If you, as an employer, have identified a hazard at your workplace that cannot be eliminated, then the answer is a resounding “yes” – your industry needs PPE…
Before Turning to PPE
While PPE is there to offer your employees protection, it shouldn’t be used as a cure all for hazardous workplace situations. It should be worn in conjunction with other safety measures. For instance, when a hazard cannot be eliminated, perhaps the process can be substituted for a safer one, or, if possible, control the hazard. And, if all else fails, reduce employee exposure with appropriate PPE.
Some PPE-Worthy Industries
Chemical – When working with corrosive materials – whether solid, liquid or gas – it’s important to reduce or eliminate exposure altogether. PPE ideal for this sort of workplace hazard includes safety glasses (to protect the eyes), gloves (to protect the hands while handling corrosive chemicals), respirator (to prevent the inhalation of hazardous gases), and clothing/footwear (to protect the skin).
Industrial/Construction – In these industries, there typically are moving hazards as well as insidious dangers like loud sounds, infrared and UV rays. The protective wear for these kinds of workplace risks will generally protect employees from falling objects (that may have accidentally slipped), flying objects (like wood chips and saw dust), or even the actual body falling, let’s say, from scaffolding. This sort of protection includes goggles, hard hats, earmuffs, harnesses, etc.
Medical – In this industry, infectious materials are the workplace hazard. PPE used here acts as a barrier between healthcare workers, patients and visitors against potential bio hazards such as body fluids, bacteria, etc. These protective garments include masks, gloves, gowns, head coverings, and shoe covers.
Food – physical, chemical and biological hazards are ever-present in the food industry. For instance, salmonella and hepatitis A are easily contracted when handling meat and fish. While hazardous activities like lifting, weighing, cutting and mixing are commonplace, PPE here is not only to protect the employee, but also the customer. This is because there is a high risk of contamination and infection stemming from the people handling the food.
Even if it only takes a few minutes to complete a job, it only takes a second for an accident to happen. Be safe. Boot, strap, buckle and zip up with PPE… always!