PPE, or personal protective equipment, has become increasingly important in today’s society and businesses. As we learn the dangers inherent in each field and the illnesses that may be caused by exposure to certain chemicals or other debris, businesses and the government have sought ways to protect these employees.
Types of Protection
When most people think of PPE, they think of gloves and face coverings, but PPE includes much more. Head protection, including hardhats and helmets; body protection, including protective clothing and suits, steel-toe boots, aprons, surgical or lab coats and shin guards; hearing protection, including ear plugs; and gloves, including elbow-length gloves and other arm coverings, are all examples of PPE.
Various jobs have different levels of PPE (levels A-D). For example, positions that require minimal protection, such as face masks, hard hats, gloves and safety glasses, are considered Level D. Level-A employees are exposed to skin, respiratory and eye-damaging chemicals and substances and may be exposed to physical projectile or falling dangers as well. Levels B and C fall within these two extremes. For example, Level B employees may require significant respiratory protection in addition to eye and face protection. They may also require chemical-resistant clothing and steel-toe boots without outer chemical-resistant covers. Level C employees may be required to wear coveralls, face masks, respirators and chemical-resistant clothing.
Interesting Fields that Use PPE
We typically hear about PPE use in hospitals and clinics, but you may be surprised by how many professions require the use of PPE. For example, window cleaners use fall prevention equipment as well as gloves and other protective clothing. Baggage handlers in airports use high-visibility clothing, gloves, ear protection and knee pads. Kitchen staff, nail technicians or salon workers and concert or event personnel all require PPE. Even manufacturing employees require PPE for hearing, eye and skin protection, depending on the products they produce.
Employers are responsible for protecting their employees. If your position requires that you wear PPE, your employer is responsible for providing most of your PPE. For example, you may be required to purchase your own steel-toe boots, while outer boot covers, masks and shields, respirators and other equipment should be provided by your employer. However, if you are an independent contractor or are otherwise self-employed, you are responsible for providing your own PPE.
If you have a job that puts you at risk of harm from physical, chemical or other means, consider investing in PPE.