All about PPE - How does PPE protect you?
How does a PPE protect you?
PPE is an acronym that stands for Personal Protective Equipment. As the name suggests, it is the equipment used for personal protection. PPE has been used in factories & industries for over 75 years. Now, the question arises, Why are they used? The obvious answer would be to protect the personnel. How does PPE protect you? This is exactly what we would be discussing in this article.
More about PPE -
PPE is used when there is a risk. As industries are a hub of risks, certain PPE is mandatory. PPE minimizes exposure to any possible hazard. They may even restrict the possibility of the hazard happening. The risks & hazards may be related to or caused by electrical, radiological, physical, chemical, and other types of hazards. PPE differs based on the risk or hazards it needs to protect the wearer from.
Check out our blog on PPE for industries.
PPE includes safety wearables & equipment, a few examples are hard hats, helmets, coveralls, bodysuits, PPE gowns & aprons, hand gloves, safety goggles, earmuffs, earplugs, respirators, face masks, safety boots, safety harnesses, and many more. These PPE provide higher efficiency (related to the effectiveness of protection). Overall, there are different PPE that protect different parts of the body.
How does PPE protect you?
Generally, there are three major ways of ‘How PPE protects you?’ The first way is that PPE either shields the body part (which it intends to protect). The second way is that it doesn’t allow the accident to happen. The third is that the PPE reduces the damage or the impact of the accident. In some cases, all these three ways may co-exist.
Safety hand gloves are the best example that follows the first two ways of protection. They cover the hands and act as a shield between external agencies & human skin. They also provide grip to the hands which don’t allow slipping which may cause injuries. For example, while operating any machine, without any grip, there may be a chance of slippage. Safety harnesses prevent mishaps to happen, while hard hats & helmets protect the head from any external agencies. Helmets reduce the impact of the accident (if it happens). Let’s discuss each type of PPE protection mechanism in detail.
- The protection capabilities of PPE depend upon the donning of the PPE, maintenance & storage of PPE.
- Protection of PPE depends upon the rating of the PPE. This rating may even impact the protection mechanism of the PPE.
Interested ones can check out our blog on the maintenance & storage of PPE.
Hand protection PPE
Safety hand gloves are the most preferred hand protection PPE. The disposable ones are usually used to prevent any direct contact of hands with the external agencies. These external agencies can be pathogens, bodily fluids, or any other toxic material. The non-disposable ones are usually used to provide grip as well as a shield restricting contact with the external agencies.
Different materials of gloves are used based on the risk assessment of the occupation. There are a few materials like latex that can cause harm to the wearer (due to allergies). Flame-resistant hand gloves are used in high fire risk situations that protect the wearer’s hands from fire. This is possible due to the flame-resistant material they are made up of.
While there are insulating gloves or electrical resistance hand gloves which protect the wearer’s hands from an electric shock. The protection is achieved as the material acts as an insulator. Based on their electrical rating, the number of layers of the material may be increased, or the thickness of the material increases.
There are cut-resistant hand gloves that protect the wearer’s hands from any scratches, cuts, piercing, and punctures. The mechanism behind the cut resistance of these hand gloves is due to the properties of material fibers. These fibers move loosely with a rolling motion that absorbs the impact of the cut or piercing.
Curious ones can check out in detail how cut-resistant gloves protect the wearer.
Foot protection PPE
Safety shoes are of different types based on their design, structure, and material of construction. Steel-toed safety shoes shield toes from external agencies as well as reduce the impact of the mishap. There are non-slip (or slip-resistant) safety shoes that prevent the accident from happening. There are two major types of these shoes, oil-resistant & water-resistant. Based on these, the material differs such that it holds the surface.
Flame-resistant safety shoes are used in high fire risk situations. This is possible due to the flame-resistant material they are made up of. Electrical shock-resistant shoes protect the wearer from electric shocks. They are made of insulating material like leather and are provided with a non-metallic fiber toe. The sole is usually made up of polyurethane (PU).
Head protection PPE
Hard hats and helmets are mostly used for head protection. Both these head protection PPE provide two ways of protection. They act as a shield and restrict contact with external agencies. They also reduce the impact and reduce the damage if any mishap occurs.
Respiratory protection PPE
The most commonly used respiratory protection PPE are respirators & face masks. There is a wide range of types of respirators & face masks. While face masks are just barriers between the external agencies and respiratory system, the respirator can function just more than being a barrier. The provision of filters allows these PPE to keep the air free of certain pollutants.
Certain respirator types like SCBA (Self-contained breathing apparatus) & ELBA or ELSA (Emergency Life Breathing Apparatus or Emergency Life Support Apparatus) are used when there is a fire accident. They can be used in a confined space, for rescue operations, and escape as they have a self-contained air supply.
Eye protection PPE
Based on the operations involved, there are many types of eye protection PPE. While most of them act as a barrier and protect eyes from splashes, fumes, sparks, and many more. For example, there are chemical splash goggles that prevent contact of the chemicals with the eyes if the mishap happens. Another example is the welding hood that acts as a barrier & protects the welder’s eyes from the sparks that arise while welding operation.
For more information, check out our article on eye protection PPE.
Ear protection PPE
Earmuffs & earbuds are the most commonly used ear protection PPE which reduce or restrict loud noise. They use the mechanism of noise cancellation by reducing or restricting the noise energy from reaching the sensitive ear parts as well as causing any damage to the ear.
Body protection PPE
These PPE work by acting as a barrier from external agencies. The protection mechanism is highly dependent on the material of construction. For example, flame-resistant suits don’t catch fire, while electrical shockproof suits reduce the impact of the electric shock.
PPE is well-known for protecting the lives of workers in the industries. The protection mechanism of PPE varies depending upon majorly two factors that are material of construction & risk assessment. The protection mechanism of a PPE plays a major role in the selection of PPE. Based on the protection area of PPE, there are three different ways of ‘How PPE protects you?’