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What is PPE in Health and Safety?

Jun. 23, 2022

Chemical Protective Coverall

Chemical Protective Coverall


PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and protects users from health and safety risks at work. PPE equipment can provide protection for the eyes, body, respiratory systems. Much of PPE equipment is designed for single use by only one user.

In this article, we will cover the different types of PPE available, the reasons why PPE is important and how PPE is used by those working in healthcare settings.


Types of PPE equipment

There are types of PPE to protect different areas of the body, including:


1. Protection for hands

PPE such as gloves should be worn when there is a risk of coming into contact with body fluids, unclean instruments and harmful substances such as chemicals.


2. Protection for feet

Protective footwear should be worn to provide protection from injuries and to support the user. Instances, where you might need to wear PPE for feet, include:

ㆍWhen working in laboratories, workshops and field trips

ㆍWorking with chemicals

ㆍStanding or walking for long periods of time for support


3. Protection for skin

PPE for skin will need to be used where employees are at risk of damaging their skin from sunlight or harmful chemicals. This includes gloves, sun cream and clothing which covers the skin.  


4. Head Protection

Head protection such as helmets will need to be worn in workplaces where there is a risk of falling objects, knocking your head on surfaces or electrical hazards.


5. Protection for hearing

Ear defenders or plugs should be worn where there is a risk of damage to hearing.


6. Protection for eyes

This can include protective goggles, shields and visors and should be worn when there is a risk to the eyes such as dust or chemicals.


7. Protection for respiratory systems

This can include face masks and respirators. This type of protection is used when there is a risk of contamination in the air or deficiency of oxygen. PPE such as surgical face masks have been used by those working in hospitals and care homes as it helps to reduce the risk of spreading airborne infections such as the coronavirus.


Why do we need PPE?

It's very important to use PPE when keeping the workplace safe for staff and visitors and has also played an instrumental part in keeping the public safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

PPE is important to use where required in order to avoid any injuries in the workplace and to reduce the risks of developing health issues. Here are just a few benefits of wearing PPE:

ㆍProtection: PPE is designed to keep people safe in the workplace and helps to avoid injuries and health issues.

ㆍAffordable: you can find PPE equipment even on a low budget, and you can save money by buying in bulk for the workplace.

ㆍComfort: PPE is designed to be comfortable for the user so that they can carry on with their workload.

ㆍIt's made to a high standard: PPE must undergo thorough testing to meet health and safety standards before it hits the shelves.

ㆍMinimises risks to health: To prevent the spread of airborne viruses such as COVID-19 respirator masks can help by protecting you from inhaling dust into your lungs. Other forms of PPE such as gloves can also prevent the spread of disease.

Hooded Protective Coverall

Hooded Protective Coverall

How to use PPE equipment for COVID-19

The need for PPE has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic as it helps to prevent the virus from spreading. PPE is used mainly by those working in healthcare. Medical-grade masks and PPE can be worn by the public. Here is how those who are required to wear PPE put on their PPE equipment:

ㆍFirstly they find the correct form of PPE to wear (such as gowns, masks and face shields).

ㆍHand sanitiser is applied to cleanse hands thoroughly.

ㆍA protective gown is put on.

ㆍRespirator or filtered face masks are put on which will cover both their nose and mouth.

ㆍThey put on goggles or face shields which will provide them with more protection for the face and eyes.

ㆍGloves are worn.

ㆍAt this stage, they will now be ready to take care of patients


Sharing PPE

PPE is designed for single-use and by one user before being correctly disposed of. There are some items, such as goggles that when properly disinfected they can be re-worn but the majority of the time, PPE is not shared. For the cases of single-use PPE, it is especially important not to re-use these items as it will pose a risk to employees – they must be properly disposed of.


Who is responsible for PPE?

Purchasing, stocking and enforcing the use of PPE where necessary is the responsibility of the employer. Employees must be provided with a safe environment to work in but should also be responsible for their own safety. To ensure safety in the workplace employees should follow health and safety precautions provided.


Looking for PPE?

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