Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as “PPE”, is equipment worn to minimize exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses, shoes, earplugs or earmuffs, hard hats, respirators, coveralls, vests and full body suits.
While there is no specific OSHA standard for body protection like there is for eye/face, head, foot, and hand protection, OSHA’s general PPE requirements in 29 CFR 1910.132 and criteria for PPE in 29 CFR 1926.95 require the use of protective clothing when appropriate.
Provisions for Protective (Safety) Clothing
Employees who face possible bodily injury of any kind that cannot be eliminated through engineering, work practice or administrative controls, must wear appropriate body protection while performing their jobs. In addition to cuts and radiation, the following are examples of workplace hazards that could cause bodily injury:
- Temperature extremes
- Contact with hot liquids, such as hot rubberized asphalt and other similar products
- Potential impacts from tools, machinery and materials
- Hazardous chemicals
There are many varieties of protective clothing available for specific hazards. Employers are required to ensure that their employees wear personal protective equipment only for the parts of the body exposed to possible injury. Common work performed in our industry that may require protective clothing includes hot work, handling and cutting metal, cutting with utility knives, or using hazardous products containing solvents, acids or other harmful chemicals. Examples of body protection include Tyvek suits or coveralls, jackets and aprons, full body suits, cut resistant sleeves and gloves, chemical or neoprene gloves, and leather gloves.
If a hazard assessment indicates a need for full body protection against toxic substances or harmful chemicals, the clothing should be carefully inspected before each use, it must fit each worker properly and it must function properly for the purpose for which it is intended.
Types of Materials:
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.
THINGS YOU SHOULD DO IN THE WORKPLACE:
- Wear protective equipment when other control methods cannot eliminate hazards
- Clothing must be inspected for proper fit prior to use
- Ensure protective equipment covers parts of the body which may be exposed to hazards
THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO IN THE WORKPLACE:
- Do Not wear improper or inadequate clothing
- Do Not use clothing that is not designed for the environment in which you are working
- Do Not use protective clothing that has been compromised by wear and tear
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