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The Importance of PPE In The Workplace

If you have ever worked in Canada, chances are you have done a course of sorts as part of your Health and Safety Training, that has most likely briefly mentioned Personal Protective Equipment or PPE. Personal Protective Equipment are measures such as Hard Hats, and Protective Goggles (to name two) that are put in place as a last line of defense to protect you from the hazards your job may present.

If you are out in the field, and falling overhead objects, or projectiles may present a danger to you to perform your required job, PPE is a requirement for you to wear to ensure your safety, and possibly save your life. PPE consists of 8 different categories, some may only be job specific, and others should be worn on every job. The 8 categories of PPE include:

- Head Protection

- Eye Protection

- Hearing Protection

- Respiratory Protection

- Hand Protection

- Foot Protection

- Body Protection

- Fall Protection

It is the Employer’s responsibility to ensure that the employee knows how to properly fit their PPE, and how their employee should be wearing it. The best way to do this is to ensure each employee has taken a course on PPE, as it will instruct them on how PPE should be worn, how to care for it, and the dangers associated with not taking PPE seriously. These courses are an Employer’s best course of action to protect themselves against any workplace accidents in the future. We will break down the different types of protection below:

Head Protection:

This one is a no brainer! If there is the potential of something falling from overhead, low ceilings, or the potential to slip and fall, or fall from a height, you should be wearing a hard hat, or a helmet to prevent something gravely serious from happening to your head.

Eye Protection:

If you are working with liquids, or flying objects, you are going to want to ensure that you are wearing something to protect your eyes. Depending on the job, there are different types of Eye PPE that can protect you from job site dangers. Consider safety glasses, or a full-face shield depending on the job and your line of work.

Hearing Protection:

Is it really LOUD in here or is that just us?! If you are on a job site and the level of noise exceeds 85 decibels, you should be wearing a form of hearing protection. This is especially the case depending on the length of time you are exposed to the noise for. There is an acceptable duration period for exposure based on the number of decibels. Make sure to look this up so that you are not putting yourself at risk. Some types of hearing protection include earplugs, or ear muffs. Depending on your field, be sure it can withstand heat. Always ensure you are using the appropriate class level of PPE.

Respiratory Protection:

Are you working in a dusty environment, or one with a lot of fumes? You should definitely be wearing a respirator. Make sure the proper type of respirator is worn, given the hazard in your situation. To ensure that you have adequate protection from the environment around you, your respirator must make a seal with your face. This will ensure what you are trying to keep out, is not slowly entering through an air hole in between your face and respirator.

If you are in a closed construction site, and dust is your enemy, you should be wearing a disposable respirator to keep the dust, and fumes away. These types of respirators are not to be used in an environment with a deficient amount of oxygen.

If you find yourself working in a situation where a specific gas or organic vapour is present, but you are still not in an oxygen deficient environment you should be wearing a Chemical Cartridge Respirator. These types of respirators are specific to the gas present. A filter for one gas, will not work on another type of gas. It is important you know your environment and the hazards that are within it.

A Powered Air Purifier should be used if there is excessive dust. These purifiers work with a battery and replaceable cartridges, depending on the hazard that is presented they can be changed out. These types of purifiers are not to be used in an oxygen deficient environment.

If there is a high concentration of specific gases, a gas mask should be worn. Gas masks should not be worn in a situation where there is an oxygen deficiency. These types of masks have a full-face piece, and have a canister attached to the mask. You should complete a pressure check to ensure that you have a good seal, so that there is no possibility of fumes escaping inside of the mask.

If you do find yourself working in an environment that is oxygen deficient and is highly toxic, you should be using an Air Respirator. You should be trained on how to properly use one so that you ensure your job is completed safely. There are many things to consider when using an air respirator as they include an air tank and an emergency bottle. These units have positive pressure given the environments they are intended for. The respirators are to be used in accordance to the Hazardous Atmospheres and Confined Spaces Act.

Foot Protection:

If you are in the construction industry you have probably heard of steel- toe boots. And you should definitely have listened as they can protect your feet from sharp objects on the floor, or falling objects from either your hands, or the environment around you. If you are an electrician, you should know that steel- toe boots are not safe, and should not be worn. If you are wearing steel- toe boots on a job site and you endure a shock or flash, these boots will act as a conductor. You should be wearing composite toe boots, that protect your feet the same way a steel- toe boot would without posing a risk to your safety. To be able to positively identify a composite- toe boot, there will be an Ohm symbol somewhere on each boot. It will look something like this Ω.

Body Protection:

Depending on your field, this can look very different. Dusty conditions or an environment where you are handling a dangerous liquid will call for different body protection PPE to be worn. Whether you are to wear coveralls, or an apron, the situation you are in will depict this. If you are an electrician and depending on the voltage you are working with, you should ensure you are wearing the correct class of PPE. Check out our Arc Flash Training Course for more information on this!

Fall Protection:

If you work from heights then you should be sure to have a safety belt, and harness. These tools act to catch you from a fall in the event that you slip or make a misstep. There are special courses offered for Working at Heights. If this is something you do, you should definitely consider taking a course on it to ensure absolute safety on the job.

Now that you have read a quick synopsis of the eight different types of PPE, and how they can help make the difference in how you get home to your family at the end of the work day, you should ensure that you have done a thorough check of the PPE you have, and consider actually using it the next time on a job. It could be the difference between life and death. If you are an employer, ensure all of your employees are up to date on training and safety certifications. Want more information on Arc Flash Safety Training? Reach out to us to learn more at

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