Certain kinds of work involve exposing yourself to physical risk. Walk through the middle of a construction site, and there’s a chance – however small – that you’ll come into contact with sharp blades, trailing cables, and falling objects. Of course, we can manage this risk, to some extent, through vigilance and education. But technology has a role to play, too, in the form of Personal Protective Equipment.
What is PPE?
Personal Protective Equipment is a blanket term referring to any wearable item that will protect the wearer against health and safety risks at work. In the context of a pandemic, it might mean facemasks and gloves – but it also covers a range of other items.
Why is PPE Important
Equipment of this sort, in extreme circumstances, can spell the difference between life and death. It might be a rare instance that a heavy object falls off a piece of scaffolding just at the moment that someone is walking beneath – but rare occurrences are almost guaranteed to happen, given enough time. It’s for this reason that construction sites mandate the use of hard hats. By creating a culture in which PPE of this sort is considered obligatory rather than a useful luxury, it’s possible to safeguard everyone on site.
What Types of PPE are there?
PPE comes in a range of different varieties.
High-visibility clothing will allow you to be seen at all times when you’re in a dark environment, which is essential for roadworkers operating at night, and construction-site workers during winter.
Eyes are among the most sensitive parts of the human face. Injury to them can result in catastrophic, life-changing effects. If you’re working with drills, blades, soldering or welding equipment, then protecting your face with face-shields, visors and goggles should be considered obligatory.
Your head and neck should be protected by a hard-hat or helmet whenever you’re working in an environment where objects might fall. Construction workers and firefighters are especially at-risk.
Damage to hearing can occur when workers are exposed to extremely loud work environments. This might occur when you’re operating a pneumatic drill, in which case ear-defenders are necessary to ward off deafness and tinnitus in the long-term.
Your fingers are particularly sensitive to injury when you’re operating table-saws and bandsaws. There exist specialised forms of these devices which stop near-instantaneously when they come in contact with a conductive object (like human skin). But protective gloves are a simpler solution. The same applies to jobs which require the handling of caustic substances.
Your feet should also be protected. Shoes should be robust enough to cope with sharp objects on the floor; the toes should be steel-capped to protect against heavy, dropped objects. Protection of this sort can make the difference between a lengthy layoff and a sigh of relief.