PPE: Preventing Injuries and Saving Lives

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Personal protective equipment (PPE) is considered by some unimportant, or even annoying, depending on it only when other factors have failed to eliminate risks.  They consider PPE a last line of defense against potentially harmful substances or occasions.  They couldn’t be more wrong.

Drawing Safety Lines. For individuals employed in high-risk work areas, PPE is not their last resort it is their first line of prevention as well as defense.

Whether gloves, hard hats, hazmat suits or respirators, the PPE they wear act as a barrier against debris, chemicals and other substances. They serve as a protective layer that safeguards the safety and well-being of employees. In certain instances, they are the very means that allow workers to effectively perform their tasks.

In fact, there are situations where there are no alternatives to PPE. For most employees, it provides an alternative to more costly engineering solutions. And since accidents happen in all facilities, PPE is an integral component of an establishment’s occupational health and safety plan.

To effectively keep workers safe from the hazards of their jobs, safety equipment is required to be designed, manufactured and tested to meet safety standards. PPE equipment is designed and manufactured to withstand severe chemical reactions and the force of falling objects.

On construction sites, for instance, falling objects are a common work hazard.  As such, employees are required to wear hard hats (as well as other PPE) to keep them safe from potentially fatal accidents. Made with rigid outer shells to resist and deflect blows against the head, hard hats are also built with suspension systems that absorb the shock of impact.

Making a Choice for Safety. Employers are required by law to ensure the health and safety of their employees, by making the job and work environment as safe as possible. Workers without the proper safety equipment are exposed to serious and potentially fatal injury. Even simple items such as gloves can prevent serious injuries, by preventing chemicals from getting onto the wearer’s skin, or sharp edges from wounding the worker’s hands.

Maintaining safety equipment and developing risk-reducing business protocols are part of an establishment’s responsibility to keep its workers safe. To maximize the use of PPE, knowledge of the workplace and potential occupational health and safety hazards should go into the process of selecting the particular equipment to be used. Employees should also be trained in wearing and general maintenance.

Facilities that fail to comply with PPE regulations could be fined, legally sanctioned, or even completely shut down.  Personal protective equipment is an integral part of worker protection. Neither employers nor employees can afford to treat them as an afterthought. PPE is not just the last line of defense for employees, it’s also their first.

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