If you were to read anything related to employees and the workplace, the word PPE is a common word you would come across very often. This is the occupational jargon used to describe one of the most important aspects of the workplace.

PPE is an abbreviation that stands for Protective Personal Equipment. PPE can refer to a variety of things as long as they serve the purpose of safeguarding employees from occupational hazards.

PPE can be equipment or clothing designed to protect employees from workplace hazards. Workplace hazards include injuries, incidents and accidents. The ever-changing working environment has seen many workplaces getting more and more sophisticated and in the process, getting more and more hazardous. It was to this effect that, PPE became a vital need in the workplace to ensure that work is performed effectively but not at the expense of any employee's health or safety.

Where engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain. These include injuries to:

  • the lungs, e.g. from breathing in contaminated air.
  • the head and feet, e.g. from falling materials.
  • the eyes, e.g. from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids.
  • the skin, e.g. from contact with corrosive materials.
  • the body, e.g. from extremes of heat or cold.

PPE refers to equipment and clothing like hard hats, safety boots, coveralls, gloves, safety glasses and goggles, earplugs, high visibility vests, lifejackets, fall protection, respirators to mention but a few. These various PPE are used in different industries, in a specific way and their design, shape, material and features are in place for a reason. For example, high visibility vests are used in industries where employees should be clearly visible to anybody in an activity that may pose as a safety hazard for other employees.

Another example is fall protection which is used to catch employees that are working at a height if it happens that they accidentally fall. Despite the provision of other safety equipment like safety harness and belts, the fall protection is still used in case those mentioned above become dysfunctional during an operation.

PPE is equipment or clothing provided to the employee by the employer to help safe-guard his life against workplace safety hazards. PPE has a way in which it should be stored, maintained and assessed for hazards. PPE is equipment that has special features and needs for it to serve its purpose correctly. Some PPE is resistant to extreme temperatures while some should not be used in high temperature zones.

PPE is equipment or clothing that is supplied along with either a data sheet or an attachment with useful information on handling, use and maintenance of that particular PPE. This is vital information as some equipment should be maintained according to the stipulations of the manufacturer. It is vital for employers to keep the data sheet at an accessible or visible place so that employees can constantly refer to it in case of doubts or uncertainty about how to handle or use their PPE. Correct use and handling will help elongate any PPE's life span.

Employers are encouraged to be careful when selecting PPE for their employees to ensure proper fit, comfort and compliance with the law. This will ensure that PPE serves its purpose. Some employer-provided PPE may cause allergic reactions or other adverse health effects, such as latex gloves thus; an employer is responsible for providing an appropriate and equally protective substitute.

Protective personal equipment is a step towards achieving increased productivity attained with confidence and as less incidents as possible. Provide, handle, store and maintain protective wear effectively!

Posted date: 12th Oct 2014
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