Types Of PPE You Can Use
Hazards – Chemical or metal splash, dust, projectiles, gas, and vapor, radiation
Options – Safety spectacles, goggles, face screens, face shields, visors
Note – Make sure the eye protection chosen has the right combination of impact/dust/ splash/molten metal eye protection for the task and fits the user properly.
Head and Neck
Hazards – Impact from falling or flying objects, the risk of head bumping, hair getting tangled in machinery, chemical drips or splash, climate or temperature
Options – Industrial safety helmets, bump caps, hairnets and firefighters’ helmets
- Some safety helmets incorporate or can be fitted with specially-designed eye or hearing protection.
- Don’t forget neck protection, eg scarves for use during welding.
- Replace head protection if it is damaged.
Hazards – Noise – a combination of sound level and duration of exposure, very high-level sounds are a hazard even with short duration
Options – Earplugs, earmuffs, semi-insert/canal caps
- Provide the right hearing protectors for the type of work, and make sure workers know how to fit them.
- Choose protectors that reduce noise to an acceptable level, while allowing for safety and communication.
Hands and Arms
Hazards – Abrasion, temperature extremes, cuts and punctures, impact, chemicals, electric shock, radiation, biological agents and prolonged immersion in water
Options – Gloves, gloves with a cuff, gauntlets, and sleeving that covers part or all of the arm
- Avoid gloves when operating machines such as bench drills where the gloves might get caught.
- Some materials are quickly penetrated by chemicals – take care in selection, see HSE’s skin at work website (www.hse.gov.uk/skin).
- Barrier creams are unreliable and are no substitute for proper PPE.
- Wearing gloves for long periods can make the skin hot and sweaty, leading to skin problems. Using separate cotton inner gloves can help prevent this.
Feet and Legs
Hazards – Wet, hot and cold conditions, electrostatic build-up, slipping, cuts and punctures, falling objects, heavy loads, metal and chemical splash, vehicles
Options – Safety boots and shoes with protective toecaps and penetration-resistant, mid-sole wellington boots and specific footwear, eg foundry boots, and chainsaw boots
- Footwear can have a variety of sole patterns and materials to help prevent slips in different conditions, including oil- or chemical-resistant soles. It can also be anti-static, electrically conductive or thermally insulating.
- Appropriate footwear should be selected for the risks identified.
Hazards – Oxygen-deficient atmospheres, dust, gases, and vapors
Options – Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
- Some respirators rely on filtering contaminants from workplace air. These include simple filtering facepieces and respirators and power-assisted respirators.
- Make sure it fits properly, eg for tight-fitting respirators (filtering facepieces, half and full masks).
- There are also types of breathing apparatus which give an independent supply of breathable air, eg fresh-air hose, compressed airline, and self-contained breathing apparatus.
- The right type of respirator filter must be used as each is effective for only a limited range of substances.
- Filters have only a limited life. Where there is a shortage of oxygen or any danger of losing consciousness due to exposure to high levels of harmful fumes, only use breathing apparatus – never use a filtering cartridge.
- You will need to use breathing apparatus in a confined space or if there is a chance of an oxygen deficiency in the work area.
- If you are using respiratory protective equipment, look at HSE’s publication Respiratory protective equipment at work: A practical guide (see ‘Find out more’ below).
Hazards – Heat, chemical or metal splash, spray from pressure leaks or spray guns, contaminated dust, impact or penetration, excessive wear or entanglement of own clothing
Options – Conventional or disposable overalls, boiler suits, aprons, chemical suits
- The choice of materials includes flame-retardant, anti-static, chain mail, chemically impermeable, and high-visibility.
- Don’t forget other protection, like safety harnesses or life jackets.
Careful selection, maintenance and regular and realistic operator training are needed for equipment for use in emergencies, like compressed-air escape breathing apparatus, respirators, and safety ropes or harnesses.