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Personal protective equipment Essay


Hazards exist in every workplace in many different forms: sharp edges, falling objects, flying sparks, chemicals, noise and a myriad of other potentially dangerous situations.

Controlling a hazard at its source is the best way to protect employees. Depending on the hazard or workplace conditions, the use of engineering or work practice controls to manage or eliminate hazards to the greatest extent possible.

When work practice and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to their employees and ensure its use. Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury and other hazards.

The Requirement for PPE
To ensure the greatest possible protection for employees in the workplace, the cooperative efforts of both employers and employees will help in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthful work environment. In general, employers are responsible for: ■ Performing a “hazard assessment” of the workplace to identify and control physical and health hazards. ■ Identifying and providing appropriate PPE for employees. ■ Training employees in the use and care of the PPE.

Maintaining PPE, including replacing worn or damaged PPE.
■ Periodically reviewing, updating and evaluating the effectiveness of the PPE program.

Employees should:
■ Properly wear PPE,
■ Attend training sessions on PPE,
■ Care for, clean and maintain PPE, and
■ Inform a supervisor of the need to repair or replace PPE.

The hazard assessment should survey of the facility to develop a list of potential hazards in the following basic hazard categories: ■ Impact,
■ Penetration,
■ Compression (roll-over),
■ Chemical,
■ Heat/cold,
■ Harmful dust,
■ Light (optical) radiation, and
■ Biologic.

In addition to noting the basic layout of the facility and reviewing any history of occupational illnesses or injuries, things to look for during the survey include: ■ Sources of electricity.

■ Sources of motion such as machines or processes where movement may exist that could result in an impact between personnel and equipment. ■ Sources of high temperatures that could result in burns, eye injuries or fire.

■ Types of chemicals used in the workplace.
■ Sources of harmful dusts.
■ Sources of light radiation, such as welding, brazing, cutting, furnaces, heat treating, high intensity lights, etc. ■ The potential for falling or dropping objects.
■ Sharp objects that could poke, cut, stab or puncture.
■ Biologic hazards such as blood or other potentially infected material.

Some of the most common types of eye and face protection
include the following:
■ Safety spectacles. These protective eyeglasses have safety frames constructed of metal or plastic and impact-resistant lenses. Side shields are available on some models.

■ Goggles. These are tight-fitting eye protection that completely cover the eyes, eye sockets and the facial area immediately surrounding the eyes and provide protection from impact, dust and splashes. Some goggles will fit over corrective lenses.

■ Welding shields.

Constructed of vulcanized fiber or fiberglass and fitted with a filtered lens, welding shields protect eyes from burns caused by infrared or intense radiant light; they also protect both the eyes and face from flying sparks, metal spatter and slag chips produced during welding, brazing, soldering and cutting operations.

■ Laser safety goggles. These specialty goggles protect against intense concentrations of light produced by lasers. The type of laser safety goggles an employer chooses will depend upon the equipment and operating conditions in the workplace.

■ Face shields. These transparent sheets of plastic extend from the eyebrows to below the chin and across the entire width of the employee’s head.

There are many types of hard hats available in the marketplace today. In addition to selecting protective headgear that meets standard requirements, employers should ensure that employees wear hard hats that provide appropriate protection against potential workplace hazards. It is important for employers to understand all potential hazards when making this selection, including electrical hazards. This can be done through a comprehensive hazard analysis and an awareness of the different types of protective headgear available.

■ Class A hard hats provide impact and penetration resistance along with limited voltage protection (up to 2,200 volts).

■ Class B hard hats provide the highest level of protection against electrical hazards, with high-voltage shock and burn protection (up to 20,000 volts). They also provide protection from impact and penetration hazards by flying/falling objects.

■ Class C hard hats provide lightweight comfort and impact protection but offer no protection from electrical hazards.

■ Leggings protect the lower legs and feet from heat hazards such as molten metal or welding sparks. Safety snaps allow leggings to be removed quickly ■ Metatarsal guards protect the instep area from impact and compression. Made of aluminum, steel, fiber or plastic, these guards may be strapped to the outside of shoes.

■ Toe guards fit over the toes of regular shoes to protect the toes from impact and compression hazards. They may be made of steel, aluminum or plastic.

■ Combination foot and shin guards protect the lower legs and feet, and may be used in combination with toe guards when greater protection is needed. ■ Safety shoes have impact-resistant toes and heat-resistant soles that protect the feet against hot work surfaces common in roofing, paving and hot metal industries.

The metal insoles of some safety shoes protect against puncture wounds. Safety shoes may also be designed to be electrically conductive to prevent the buildup of static electricity in areas with the potential for explosive atmospheres or nonconductive to protect workers from workplace electrical hazards.

■ Leather gloves protect against sparks, moderate heat, blows, chips and rough objects.

■ Aluminized gloves provide reflective and insulating protection against heat and require an insert made of synthetic materials to protect against heat and cold.

■ Aramid fiber gloves protect against heat and cold, and abrasive-resistant.

■ Synthetic gloves of various materials offer protection against heat and cold, cut and abrasive-resistant and may withstand some diluted acids. These materials do not stand up against alkalis and solvents.

Protective clothing comes in a variety of materials, each effective against particular hazards, such as:

■ Paper-like fiber used for disposable suits provide protection against dust and splashes.

■ Treated wool and cotton adapts well to changing temperatures, is comfortable, and fire-resistant and protects against dust, abrasions and rough and irritating surfaces. ■ Duck is a closely woven cotton fabric that protects against cuts and bruises when handling heavy, sharp or rough materials

■ Leather is often used to protect against dry heat and flames. ■ Rubber, rubberized fabrics, neoprene and plastics protect against certain chemicals and physical hazards. When chemical or physical hazards are present, check with the clothing manufacturer to ensure that the material selected will provide protection against the specific hazard.

Some types of hearing protection include:
■ Single-use earplugs are made of waxed cotton, foam, silicone rubber or fiberglass wool. They are self-forming and, when properly inserted, they work as well as most molded earplugs.

■ Pre-formed or molded earplugs must be individually fitted by a professional and can be disposable or reusable. Reusable plugs should be cleaned after each use.

■ Earmuffs require a perfect seal around the ear. Glasses, facial hair, long hair or facial movements such as chewing may reduce the protective value of earmuffs.

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