What is the purpose of personal protective work equipment – PPE?
PPE is one of the important elements of health and safety. They enable employees to protect themselves from dangers of various kinds. The key to proper application is a systematic approach. You need to correctly evaluate the risks and determine which risks the personal protective work equipment should protect against.
We often come across questions or requests like we need to update the PPE list. But without a complete and accurate understanding of the risks and a well-executed risk analysis, this is not possible.
However, PPE is not the only and ultimate answer to any risks. Instead, this sequence should be followed:
- risk elimination
- risk reduction
- prioritizing collective measures over individual ones
- replacement of risky jobs
As you can see, PPE are the last resort if you have no other means available. In practice, they often come to the fore at the expense of the above.
Another aspect of PPE is the cultural contribution, where they can play a positive role in occupational safety and health. You may have already met companies that use PPE like protective glasses or helmets, even if there is no obvious reason – risk. This is a significant contribution to the OSH culture.
How to choose the right PPE?
As we mentioned above, the key to PPE is correctly assessed risks. PPE can serve to protect:
- upper limbs (gloves, sleeve, jacket)
- lower limbs
- skin, body
In order to choose the right PPE, we need to know whether to protect us from physical factors (mechanical cuts, blows, electrical energy, heat…), chemical, biological, or other factors.
PPE must also take into account comfort and mutual combinability, and must correspond to the relevant regulations – standards. There are a large number of standards in the field of PPE. Let us mention, for example, EN 388 + A1 Protective gloves against mechanical risks.
This standard deals with mechanical resistance and indicates resistance class 1 to 4 or 5, and class A to F. These classes indicate resistance to abrasion, cutting, tearing, puncture, and resistance to cutting by another test according to EN ISO 13997.
As you can see, finding the right PPE can be a complex issue, so don’t hesitate to turn to experienced professionals. In addition to understanding the risks, the key is also knowledge of durability, modern materials and construction, and last but not least, the involvement of users in testing.
Watch the video how modern materials and suitable construction can also protect against such risks as a fast-moving chainsaw chain during forestry work.
How not to waste money on PPE?
When using PPE, it is also necessary to ensure their purchase, allocation, issuance and care. This can represent a complex process of ordering, tracking sizes, storage, warehouse operations, personnel management, and the like. A frequent “disease” is the purchase of the cheapest possible PPE of low quality with a short lifespan, which are then distributed massively but indiscriminately and inefficiently. They are damaged after only a short time. The key is to choose suitable, modern and durable PPE that will protect you and guarantee a lifetime. At the same time, a properly set process will ensure allocation records and prevent waste. Vending machines with RFID cards can also help you.
We hope that this article helped you to get a basic orientation in the PPE issue.
If you need help, do not hesitate to contact us