By | Linda Carter
If the environment you work in is potentially hazardous, it’s important to ensure you have access to the personal protective equipment (PPE) you need to do your job safely.
A total of 142 workers were killed while on duty in Great Britain in 2020/21, with the average number of workplace fatalities over the past five years standing at 136. It’s not just workers in danger either, with the Health and Safety Executive confirming that 60 members of the public lost their lives as a result of a work-related incident.
PPE is just one way to reduce the chances of people being injured or, in extreme circumstances, killed.
But what sort of items count as PPE, whose responsibility is it to supply it, and what are some examples? Read on to find out.
What is PPE?
Clothes, helmets, goggles and other similar equipment that protect the wearer from potential health and safety risks are considered PPE.
Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, employers must provide PPE to their workers, or provide them with clear instruction of where they can obtain it, and also give training in its use. It is the employee’s responsibility to have the PPE readily available.
If there is a lot of movement around the workplace or there are regular visitors to the site, mandatory signs from RS can inform people of the PPE requirements in the areas they are entering.
Good signage does not technically constitute a form of PPE, but it is hugely important in ensuring people are aware of what items they need with them.
Why is PPE important?
Making a workplace safe limits the potential for things to go wrong, which could result in unnecessary injuries to workers or members of the public.
PPE contributes to creating that safer working environment by helping protect employees from hazards as they go about their responsibilities. Examples of those hazards include:
- Exposure to large amounts of chemicals, fumes or dust
- Using heavy machinery
- Working with chemicals
- Heavy objects falling from a height
- Working in excessively hot or cold conditions
Without PPE, the risk of injury is raised significantly. Not only does this put people in danger, but it can also impact the efficiency of the work being carried out.
What types of PPE are there?
The term PPE includes a huge amount of items designed to protect against things like chemicals, electricity, heat, biohazards and much more. Some examples of PPE include:
- For eyes: Safety spectacles, goggles, face shields/masks, visors
- For the head and neck: Helmets, scalp protectors, hairnets, hoods
- For ears: Earmuffs/defenders, earplugs, canal caps
- For hands and arms: Gloves, gauntlets, wrist cuffs
- For bodies: Overalls/aprons, high visibility clothing, harnesses, life jackets
- For feet and legs: Safety boots (i.e. steel toe caps, slip-resistant soles), wellies, anti-static footwear