The pandemic months with COVID-19 reinforced the importance of having personal protective equipment (PPE) available to everyone. Healthcare workers during that time had an almost 12-time higher risk of testing positive for the virus, and those without PPE were 23% higher than that.
Although we often think of PPE as something for healthcare or food-related settings, every business and industry can benefit from this resource. When worn correctly, personal protective equipment functions as a barrier between you and infectious materials, including bacterial and viral contaminants.
Proper PPE protection prevents unwanted items from contacting your skin, eyes, nose, or mouth.
What Is Personal Protective Equipment?
The best way to describe PPE is that it is a tool that prevents work-related illnesses, injuries, or death. Businesses use it in commercial and industrial settings, but you can also experience home-based benefits in certain situations when personal protective equipment is available.
Several types of PPE are available to use to meet today’s complex needs. Here are a few examples of the protective gear that businesses are using today to keep employees safe.
- Face shields and masks that protect the nose and mouth.
- Respirators that prevent dangerous fumes and odors.
- Gloves that stop fluids and prevent cuts.
- Helmets, goggles, and work boots that prevent transfers.
Some workers find that a full-body suit is the best form of PPE because of their professional responsibilities. Although you don’t always see this option used in the construction industry, you would want to use it for tasks like asbestos removal.
Another PPE option that doesn’t get as much attention involves fall protection. When construction workers wear a harness or tie-off while working in risky situations, they operate with personal protection devices to keep them safe.
When you work with today’s best PPE suppliers, you’ll get the personal and professional equipment needed to be safer in virtually any environment.
How Important Is It to Have PPE Equipment?
People in every occupation face several risk factors that could trigger an illness or injury. The most common reasons for an unwanted exposure involve chemical, physical, mechanical, or electrical hazards.
In healthcare settings, you could add radiological and medical exposures to that list of potential risk factors.
Several organizations have established specific safety regulations that involve personal protective equipment based on standards set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA).
If you want to be more proactive about controlling hazards, the first step is to invest in high-quality PPE for each employee or person in your home. After that, these four steps can help you manage the environment better.
- Start by physically removing potential hazards from the environment. Something dangerous that has already caused injuries should be taken away by an experienced professional.
- Replace the hazardous item with a safer substitute. If a construction site experiences an issue with a specific tool, it would be appropriate to bring in a safer or more effective one that accomplishes the same tasks.
- Look for ways to complete the work without exposing others to the potential hazard. Avoidance is always the best policy.
- Ensure that everyone has the appropriate PPE available to complete their tasks without an increased injury risk.
Personal safety equipment can look different in various professional settings. To stay safe, a healthcare worker might wear a full-body suit with a face shield, mask, and shoe coverings. Someone working in the construction industry might need a hard hat, respirator, and work boots with steel reinforcements.
Even when you work in the garden at home, you might wear gloves and use knee pads when pulling weeds. That’s also PPE!
When everyone can understand and recognize how necessary PPE is in each setting, the risk factors for each person can be substantially mitigated.
Have You Created a PPE Management Plan Yet?
It is highly recommended that all businesses create a risk assessment that identifies potential hazards to analyze what might happen if an incident occurs. This evaluation allows managers to determine the adverse impacts that could impact a large-scale plan.
Several hazards are easily identifiable and seem like common sense, but they should still be included in a PPE management plan. Here are some examples.
- Natural disasters, such as a flood, hurricanes, or earthquakes.
- Power outages that last for more than a few minutes, especially in care-critical scenarios.
- Issues with job site water access, gas leak risks, or sewage problems.
- Spills that include hazardous materials or mixing chemicals that create hazardous combinations.
An overlooked area of a corporate PPE plan involves technical issues. What would happen if your business had a software or hardware issue? Would there be risk factors to mitigate in that situation that personal protective equipment could solve?
Some businesses feel that completing a risk assessment eliminates the need for PPE equipment, but that’s not the case. If anything, it shows you the areas where the most support is needed so that you can stay safe.
As the management plan develops, setting goals for the workplace is crucial. These outcomes can also apply to residential settings. Consider looking at how individuals receive protection, where PPE adheres to company guidelines, and understand your budget limitations for this investment.
Some businesses may need to comply with local, regional, state, or national regulations. PPE choices that work in one environment might not be suitable for another, so think about what is feasible when creating these plans.
Do You Have the PPE Needed for a Safe Workplace?
Personal protective equipment provides a proactive resource that prevents worker illnesses and injuries. It is usable in numerous settings, and the benefits even extend to the home.
It only takes a second for an emergency to develop. You only need a few extra seconds to put on the PPE that could keep you safe during that situation.
Although nothing is 100% infallible, workers with PPE face significantly fewer risk factors than those without this resource. Invest in the safety and protection devices your workplace and home need today to ensure everyone can work safely.