Personal Protective Equipment: Safety Topics - July 2018 - Week 4


Personal Protective Equipment is often a last resort for injury prevention but is what we have the most direct control over. Every day, we make a conscious decisions about whether or not to use PPE. Sometimes we may brush it off because a task may be minor and quick; however, if you don’t think you can get hurt, think again, you can get hurt at any time.

If you didn’t know you needed PPE, we’ll get you up to speed. Make it part of your routine to put on PPE. If your PPE doesn’t fit well or it’s uncomfortable, we can get it sized right. If you forget to wear your PPE, it’s up to all of us to remind you.

This week we’ll talk about the 5 categories of PPE: Respiratory, Eye & Face, Hearing, Foot, and Hand. When you’re familiar with them, you’re more likely to help others remember to use them too.

Monday – Respiratory Protection:

Respirators are generally used in a hazardous environment where you are exposed to dangerous airborne substances. To ensure the correct mask is used for the job, do a hazard assessment of your operations, processes, and the environment that these tasks create.

Particulate Respirators:

These are the most common and simplest protection at an inexpensive cost. These protect against particles such as dust but do not work against chemicals, gases, or vapors, and should only be used in low hazard situations. These are normally disposable or have disposable filters. They need to be replaced if they become discolored, damaged, or clogged.

Chemical Cartridge/ Gas Mask Respirator:

These are usually a strap-on mask with interchangeable cartridges used for air purification. There are specific types of cartridges for them depending on the types of chemicals or biological hazards you are working with. Cartridges are usually color coded to help you select the right one.

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus:

This is most commonly used by firefighters; however, are also common in the oil and gas sectors. These have air tanks which require no filters and supply clean air. Make sure to test these to ensure the mask fits correctly. These are generally heavy and can weigh about 30 pounds and require special training to use them.


Tuesday – Eye and Face Protection:

There are 6 Classes of Eye & Face protection. The diagram is from the CCOHS Website.

The first step is to hazard assess your work to decide what protection is best suited for the job.


(Does not cover all possible hazards and combinations – examine each situation carefully and over-project if in doubt)

  • Class 1 (spectacles) – Flying dust or wood particles, bright sun and lights
  • Class 2 (goggles) – Casting or pouring molten metal, laser radiation
  • Class 3 (helmet) – Optical radiation such as soldering and spot welding
  • Class 4 (handshield) – Temporary large optical radiation such as stud welding and hot-dipping
  • Class 5 (hoods) – Acid splashes, glass breakage, chemical sprays, welding sparks
  • Class 6 (face shields) – Sand blasting, electrical arc flashes

Fit: You must always make sure your eye wear fits properly. A good guide line is to have it cover your eyebrow and cheek bone and across the nose to the bone on the outside of the face and eyes. There should be minimal gaps between your face and the device being used. You should also be able to see in all directions with no obstruction to your vision.


  • Clean your eyewear according to manufactures guidelines
  • Avoid rough handling of your device as scratches can cause weak points in the lenses
  • Keep your devices safe and preferably in a case to avoid stepping or sitting on them
  • Replace if they become damaged
  • Only replace parts with identical parts, never try to improvise and make them work with other parts
  • Do not modify in any way

Wednesday – Hearing Protection:

People working in noise or a sound level that exceeds 85 decibels should wear hearing protection to reduce the risk of hearing loss. Make sure to do a job safety assessment (JSA) and contact your safety professional for the safety legislation in your jurisdiction for proper information on the requirements needed. Consider these factors when selecting hearing protection:

  • Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the right protection.
  • Are they comfortable to be worn?
  • Are they right for the temperature and humidity in your work place?
  • Are you able to hear alarms and warning sounds while wearing?

Types of Hearing Protection:

  • Ear Plugs: These are normally disposable, reusable or custom molded earplugs and are inserted into the ear canal.
  • Semi-Inserted Ear Plugs: These are the earplugs that are held together by a head band that partly insert into the ear canal.
  • Ear Muffs:  They are made of sound-attenuating material and have soft cushions that fit around the ear with a hard outer cup which are held together by a headband.

Care for your hearing protection:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Check regularly for wear and tear
  • Dispose of earplugs that get squeezed to fit the ear and no longer expand
  • Make sure to disassemble earmuffs when cleaning
  • Never get the sound attenuating materials in earmuffs wet
  • Use a soft brush to remove skin and oils from the ear cushions

Thursday – Foot Protection

When picking out the proper foot protection, comfort should be the most important priority. The wrong fit of a work boot can make the task of walking extremely painful and uncomfortable.

Tips for finding the correct fit:

  • The steel toe cap should cover the whole length of the toes.  If the toecap cuts into the foot then the size and style are wrong for your foot.
  • When choosing the type of sole, look at material and thickness. Again a hazard assessment should be performed when deciding what type of protection is needed.
  • A steel midsole protects the foot against sharp objects penetrating the shoe’s sole but flexible enough to help your foot bend.
  • Remember even if a shoe says non-slip, no footwear can prevent slipping on every type of surface you may come in contact with.

Friday – Hand Protection

Picking the right glove for the job:

  • Cotton or Fabric Gloves: These types of gloves help keep your hands clean but will not protect against rough or sharp materials.
  • Coated Fabric Gloves: These gloves can be used for some types of chemical handling.
  • Rubber, Plastic, or Synthetic Gloves: These are good for protecting skin from oils, solvents, and other chemicals.
  • Leather Gloves: These are great gloves when welding and handling sharp materials as they can with stand some heat, protect from sparks, and also protect from cuts and lacerations as they are thick and hard to tear.
  • Aluminized Gloves: These are good for foundry, welding, and furnace work as they have a reflective and insulating protection.
  • Kevlar Gloves: These can be used in many industrial applications. They are cut and abrasion resistant and provide protection from heat and cold.

Pay particular attention if you need Chemical Liquid Resistant gloves:

  • Butyl Rubber:  Nitric/sulfuric/hydrochloric acids and peroxide
  • Natural Latex: Water solutions, salts, alkalis, and ketones
  • Neoprene: Hydraulic fluids, gasoline, alcohols, and organic acids
  • Nitrile Rubber: Chlorinated solvents

Tags: safety topics , injury prevention , osha compliance , osha training basics ,

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