What Types of Personal Protective Equipment Are There? 

The term ‘Personal Protective Equipment’ PPE refers to a large group of products, which one can use to safeguard users against many hazards. The range of products in the PPE category includes gloves, high visibility clothing, safety footwear, and more.

The PPE that exist in the category mentioned above are suitable for use in both work and home environments. They can also be used during leisure and sporting activities. Any situation where the body is exposed to high impact, heat, high velocity, or heavy items requires some form of PPE.

Such activities can bring harm to the user’s body in various ways. For optimal safety when engaging in such activities, owning a set off PPE equipment can be highly beneficial. Simply put, PPE is required whenever that are dangers present. Even if PPE equipment helps to reduce the risk of injury, its main limitation is that it does not eliminate the source of the injury in the first place.

Challenges in Using PPE

Any product that falls under the PPE category helps impose a barrier between the user and the working space. This, can lead to additional strains on the wearer and comprise their ability to work without discomfort. Any of these can easily affect the ability of the wearers to use PPE correctly, thus increasing their risk of injury. Factors such as good design ergonomics are, therefore crucial, in mitigating any risks associated with PPE products.

According to OSHA, every worker who works in a setting with risks should have access to the correct PPE. More so, each organization has to provide the proper training for using these resources to help reduce any negligent hazards. More so, the organization has to review such protocols, and the injuries experienced by employees when working.

The employees also have the right to file a complaint with OSHA if they feel marginalized or mistreated when it comes to treatment. It’s also crucial for each employer to implement a safe work environment, to mitigate any risks presented to employees. It’s up to you to determine when you need PPE and the types of devices that are suitable for your needs. Also, the organization has to come up with proper training protocols, and ensure that every reasonable party gain access to this information.

All these are challenges experienced when implementing the correct PPE protocols. In this regard, there are several types of PPE equipment categories that one should learn about.

Common Types of Head Protection

Head and Head Protection

Wearing head protection helps to avoid any injury that may occur from falling or swinging materials that might harm your head. Also, the head protectors help to reduce any injury that can happen when you knock against stationary materials. Some types of head protection, such as hairnets, even help to protect against issues such as entanglement. The typical activities where one would get head injuries include construction, sports, building, and more.

The ideal head PPE products include:

  • Heavy-duty Helmets
  • Hard hats
  • Bump Caps
  • Ergonomic guards
  • Earmuffs
  • Hand Protection

The hand is a part of the body that has several components, and it’s vital to choose the correct PPE for the same. The arms, fingers, elbows, wrists, and more, the hands have many facets. Usually, the PPE used in this category has the aim of protecting against cold, vibrations, heat, cuts, sharp objects, and more. The various situations the hand requires protection include construction, working in cold/warm environments, working with chemicals, and more.

The typical examples of hand protection products include:

  • Durable gloves
  • Wrist cuff arm nets
  • Elbow guards and sheaths
  • Eye and Face Protection

Eye and Face protection

The numbers are staggering when it comes to eye injuries that occur in workplaces. In fact, every day, well over 2000 workers in the US require medical attention for eye-related injuries. Most of these injuries occur in various ways. Some occur when solid particles such as wood chips, sand or cement chips penetrate the eye. Furthermore, small particles in smokes and large particles such as broken glass also contribute to a large number of eye injuries.

Other factors, such as blunt force trauma to the eye, when exposed to excessive force, are also common. Products such as chemicals, thermal agents, and sources from welding are also known to cause eye-related injuries.

The everyday PPE products in this category include

  • Goggles – to protect the eyes, thus stopping liquid splashes and debris from getting to the eye.
  • Face shields – these provided added protection to the eye and can be worn over the conventional types of eye ware
  • Full face respirators – these types are the best for eye protection, and when respiratory protection is also required.

Respiratory Protection

Respiratory protection covers a large group of products. They serve to protect users from contaminants in the air while also maintaining their health. The products in this category are many include half masks, detectors, monitors, and more. Similar to most types of PPE, adequate training is required before making use of these tools. They help to protect individuals from contaminants that exist in the air, thus helping to maintain the respiratory tract health.

There are several types of respirators. The common type functions by removing harmful chemicals and gases from the air. The filtration might either occur as a passive or active process. Furthermore, using gas masks are a typical example in this category. The other common type helps to protect users by delivering clean and respirable air from a new source. Usually, such systems are useful when there is no adequate ventilation in a given area.  Factors such as design ergonomics are crucial when choosing proper ergonomics for respiratory tools. It should fit well around the space, and never let any air in through the spaces.

Hearing Protection

Hearing protection is vital when working in places that produce large amounts of noise or sound. Aside from protecting users from ear damaging sound, the equipment should also be comfortable. A typical workplace practice is to provide employees with several ear protection options and choosing the best. The common types of hearing protection include noise meters, earplugs, communication sets, acoustic foam.

Industrial noise is often overlooked as an occupational problem, mainly because it’s not easy to prevent. On overage, millions of workers in the USA are exposed to potentially harmful noise leaves each year. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides useful information on noise exposure regulations. According to the organization, any sound level higher than 85Dba for more than eight hours, is an occupational hazard.

PPE resources for hearing protection might include earmuffs, earplugs, and more.

Foot protection

Foot protection equipment help to protect the feet and legs from many hazards. These include electricity, slipping, high impact forces, chemicals, and more. Usually, these types of safety equipment are used when users have to work in places such as construction environments. The typical examples in the foot protection category include safety boots, conductive footwear, and anti-static shoes.

According to one survey, many workers today who get foot injuries fail to apply the correct safety protocols. Also, most of their employers failed to get them to follow through with company safety regulations. The typical foot injury occurs due to falling objects, with most workers getting them when working on job activities.

To protect the feet and legs from such dangerous objects, tools such as safety shoes, footguards and leggings should be used. The leggings help protect the lower section of the leg and feet from high-temperature materials such as welding sparks. You can even wear fiberglass or galvanized footguards, which are perfect for people working in metal industries. Heat resistant shoes are also beneficial, with some being made using durable metal or steel.

Body Protection

Body protection equipment helps to protect the body from various forms of injury. Usually, body protection is applicable when working outdoors, in areas with extreme temperatures, chemical-laden environments, and more. The common types of body equipment include life jackets, high visibility clothing, harnesses, and more. Body protection might also include height protection resources. These types are highly specialized tools and might require some training before you can use them effectively. The typical height protection resources include lowering harnesses, fall arrest systems, energy absorbers, and more. Also, people who tend to be tall, might also require added height protection, especially when moving around compact work spaces.

Finally

There are various risks associated with working or being exposed to specific work environments. Even if we have to work in such settings with uncertainty, there are several safety protocols available to ensure you never get an injury. Your organization should provide the proper resources, including gear and training, for your needs. Any injury due to negligence on the organization’s part is liable for review by the OHSA organization and even the court of law.

Thus, employees have to get the correct safety resources and training at all times. With such resources, the risk of getting injury reduces significantly, thus improving the performance and productivity of the organization.

Sarah Shawman

is the webmistress of Footwear 4 Workers.

She started this website out of displeasure with the fact that there are so few good online resources especially dedicated to the 99%: working people. Having suffered from work related plantar fasciitis herself, she set out on a mission to help others.

She updated this page on and will continue to update it as time goes on.

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