Everyone wants to avoid a workplace injury. Workers would rather not be disabled for long periods of time–often to the point where their disability and worker’s comp dries up. Employers want to avoid a situation where they lose a worker, their ability to produce, and have to pay worker’s compensation for a time. And no one wants a casualty on their hands.
That’s where personal protective equipment comes in. Here are some statistics:
- Thousands of workers are blinded each year from work-related injuries that could have been prevented with the proper use of eye and face protection.
- Those eye injuries cost U.S. companies more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation.
- In 2015, the private industry employers in the United States reported approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses.
- And finally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 20 million workers use personal protective equipment (PPE) on a regular basis to protect them from job hazards.
There are many types of jobs that require the use of personal protective equipment.
Manufacturing jobs and construction related jobs often have the requirement of steel toed boots, protective gloves, and eye protection, such as clear goggles. The same goes for workers on oil rigs, who are constantly and consistently are hazards, such as hot flames and oil spikes.
Research positions in laboratories require the use of protective equipment such as protective gloves, clear goggles, and other lab gear. This other lab gear can include hazmat suits if the individuals are dealing with a hazardous material.
And there are those that must be in full on protective gear, whether they are dealing with toxic chemicals, a hazardous chemical spill, air born agents, rampant deadly disease, life threatening bacteria, human killing viruses, and so forth.
In fact, the natural gas and petroleum industries may be some of the largest that require the use of personal protective equipment. For instance:
- Petroleum refineries contributed $462 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015.
- The oil and natural gas industry employs about 2.6 million Americans.
The manufacturing industry is there as well, having created $5.3 trillion worth of goods in 2016, which makes up a third of the United States Gross Domestic Product, more than any other sector or industry.
Personal protective equipment adheres to certain rules and guidelines for creation, the manufacturing, and the use by employees. For instance, it is important to be aware of the purposes of the equipment and to not stray or deviate from any of the rules.
For instance, there are some pictures that show a man wearing full on protective covering but leaving a gap between the glove and the sleeve, exposing the wrist to toxic chemicals. Other people have at certain times loosened their eye covering, thereby exposing their eyes to chemicals or hazards in their environment.
Of course, while it is the wearer’s responsibility to keep all the personal protective equipment in line with what the guidelines dictate, and each comes with instructions as well as employer instructions on how to use them, the protective personal equipment can oftentimes make a job more difficult.
This is especially the case with the more personal protective equipment the person has on. A full body suit is likely to be more constraining than just having on gloves and some steel-toed boots. Each job will have its own requirements for the amount of personal protective equipment the person needs to have on.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
- No garment guarantees 100% safety. Even flame resistant fabrics burn at the point of ignition, though they do prevent flames from flowing from the ignition point.
- Breakthrough resistance is related to the temperature of the material and the environment and the thickness of the barrier. A higher than normal temperature will result in a faster breakthrough.
Finding the right chemical garments, such as chemical protective bibs, chemical protective coveralls, and chemical protective jackets, will help immensely if a situation were to arrive.
For an employer to provide a safe workplace, they must attempt to remove all the hazards from the workplace. However, safe workplace means providing equipment that will protect workers. A safe workplace means instructing workers on how to hand equipment. And a safe workplace will enable workers to function at their job while still being safe.