Personal Protective Equipment
The Last Line of Defense
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the equipment you wear to reduce exposure to hazards. Of course, that's after all attempts have been made to control or eliminate hazards at the source. This can be done by:
Redesigning the work station
Substituting a non-hazardous material for a hazardous material
Adding safety features to equipment
Purchasing new equipment
During work, it's important to:
Follow safe work practices and procedures
Use appropriate engineering controls
Wear the correct PPE
Remember - PPE shouldn't be the only or first source of protection - it's a last line of defense.
Why Should I?
Why should you wear PPE? Just look at the facts. PPE has saved thousands of limbs and lives. If you don't wear it, you run the risk of:
Loss of sight or hearing
Burns and abrasions
Permanent brain damage
Eye and Face Protection
There are many types of eye and face protection - safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and hoods. They are all designed for protection against different hazards. Make sure you use the right protection for your job.
Use the Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety Legislation as a minimum standard. As well, look for the CSA imprint. Wearing the right eye and face protection can save two important things - your sight and your smile.
Your feet can be impacted, severely compressed, or punctured if you don't wear safety footwear. Pick your foot protection according to the specific job you're doing and hazards you're facing - or you may be in for a painful, crushing experience. Approved construction footwear is verified by a green CSA triangle on the side of the boot.
Always make sure it fits and is in good condition. Use the right protection for the job - it can save your mind and your life.
What did you say? Don't let this be your most common phrase - use the hearing protection you need - whether its ear plugs, ear muffs, or both.
Clothes and Gloves
Clean, fitted work clothes and gloves are your skin's defense. Some jobs require long sleeves and gloves. In other jobs these might be a hazard - dress for success and safety.
Every trade has its own hazards. Logging requires leg protection and the construction industry often uses fall protection.. As well, many jobs use controlled products (refer to the material safety data sheet for PPE information). Whatever the job, know what PPE you need.
There is a wide range of respiratory protection - from dust masks, cartridge respirators, to self contained breathing apparatus and work packs. This equipment should never be used without proper training and work procedures. Misuse can be deadly.
Always inspect the PPE you are about to use - it won't do you much good if it's damaged or broken. Keep maintenance records for specialized PPE.
While working with PPE, take care of it and clean it after you are done. Then store PPE in a safe place where it will not get damaged - away from sunlight or contaminants.
Do you know what you are doing? Do you know how to fit, wear, and maintain your PPE? If you don't you are rendering it useless.
Use it Right!
Incorrect use of PPE can lead to incidents by actually impairing your performance. Make sure your PPE fits you and fits the specific job. Remember to re-evaluate your use of PPE on a regular basis - just as working requirements change, so do requirements for PPE.
Wear it at Home
People who are extremely careful at work sometimes forget to act the same way at home. Homes can be just as hazardous as workplaces. For example, do you know what controlled products you have in your home and what precautions to take when using them?
Before you do a job at home, evaluate the risk. Maybe you shouldn't even be doing this job. It may be less costly (in terms of money and potential injury) to hire a professional to do the job.
If you decide to do a job at home, assess your need for PPE.
Probably the most important message when it comes to PPE is match your PPE to the specific job you're doing - at work and at home. That means to wear the right protection - eye, head, hearing, foot, respiratory, and specialized.
Many types of PPE are used for protection against unexpected incidents; but unexpected doesn't mean impossible, and each industry has different hazards - so protect yourself. Even as the last line of defense, PPE may be the one that counts, so use it correctly.
For more information, refer to current applicable Occupational Health and Safety Legislation.