Personal protective equipment, or PPE, has become an unlikely buzzword in the new era of pandemic and personal safety. However, for many different fields of work, it’s been a common practice for quite some time. PPE in the workplace is an effective tool and it has many different definitions, depending on the type of work you’re in. Whether you’re a doctor, firefighter, or even a server/bartender, PPE is key to a successful and safe work experience.
PPE in the Workplace: Not a Passing Fad
Quite obviously, those medical grade masks that we’ve been asked to wear in public spaces do have their origins in the medical field. When performing surgery, working with immunocompromised patients, or performing other duties— most nurses and doctors will have their handy dandy masks, gloves, and other equipment at the ready. PPE in the workplace for these doctors can often be the difference between life and death for others.
Speaking of life or death, PPE in the workplace for firefighters? That means protecting themselves more than others. Think oxygen masks, fireproof suits, and the like. While your definition of PPE has likely been reserved to what we are being asked to use ourselves, it has a pretty broad definition.
Another field where this gear has more impact on yourself than others is in construction. Steel-toed boots, glasses or eye shields, a harness, and gloves— these are all forms of personal protective equipment. When you’re working with heavy, slippery, sharp materials up on scaffolding, having PPE in the workplace is important. Not to mention when you are welding or working with chemical agents of some kind, protecting your eyes and skin can be a matter of serious injury or death. But, not only is it important, it is also (in many cases) a requirement.
Under OSHA regulations, you must have the necessary gear in certain work spaces. Furthermore, you must also provide training as to how they should be used properly. So, as an employer, you must address hazards to prevent accidents, provide training, and provide necessary equipment to make your workspace safe. In short, PPE in the workplace has many faces and purposes— each one as valuable as the next. When used properly they might just save an arm, a leg, or an eye.