Tips for choosing personal protective equipment
Choosing personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the key steps you can take to keep yourself injury-free on the job. One way to shop for PPE is by considering what body part you need to protect and what type of risk you're protecting it from. Some common types of risk that PPE can protect you from are cuts, blunt force impacts and chemicals.
Protect your eyes
Safety glasses come in a variety of styles and with many different features. To choose, begin by selecting between prescription and non-prescription, and then consider the following:
- You can choose prescription styles based on the degree of magnification you need. Bifocal safety glasses are also available if you need readers for close work but not for distance visibility.
- Other features to look for in safety glasses include scratch resistance and the type of side-eye protection you prefer. Wraparound styles have the eye protectors integrated into the arms of the glasses, which is ideal when you're working around certain chemicals. Others require goggles.
- There are also styles that offer optional side shields you can put on your own prescription glasses to protect the sides of your eyes and face.
- If chemical splashes are a potential risk, safety goggles provide the snuggest fit all the way around your eyes for better protection. Depending on the job you're working on, your employer may specify the type of eye protection you need to have.
Protect your hearing
Hearing protection is available in styles that go inside your ear canal or over your entire earlobe. In-ear protection provides a comfortable way to block noise. There are several things to look for in product descriptions for hearing protection that covers your earlobes. First, check the dimensions for the overall size of the headset you're considering. If you're in doubt about fit, measure around your head or look for either "adjustable" or "one-size-fits-all" in the product description. Noise-cancellation is another feature to consider. This feature lets you hear if someone is talking to you, but it also blocks ambient noise.
Protect your hands
Our wide selection of glove styles available makes it easy to choose the type you need. Consider the type of protection your hands need and the size of your hands to find effective protection. Leather gloves and heavy synthetic gloves offer protection from light impacts and from light cuts. Disposable gloves guard against chemicals and fluids that may otherwise get on your skin while you're working.
Protect your lungs
Mouth masks are designed to fit over your nose and mouth, and they come in disposable and washable styles. For more extreme filtering needs, respirator face masks can keep you from breathing in particles of various sizes. Respirator face masks cover your face and also have replaceable filters. Ensure your air quality stays high by replacing filters on the schedule that the manufacturer recommends.
Protect your clothes
Protective outerwear keeps unwanted substances off your clothing. It also comes in styles that offer extra protection for your body, such as bulletproof vests and knee pads, so you can make a purchasing decision based on the body part you need to protect in any given situation. High-visibility options are also available. If you work in low-light conditions or around heavy traffic, you can look for features like reflective tape and neon fabrics.
Protect your head
Helmets are available with full brims and half brims that cover only the front part of your face. Full brims offer a bit of extra protection for the back of your head and neck, while front-brimmed hard hats focus on covering the top of your head and eyes. Other features to consider include hard hats with attached face masks to protect your eyes from projectiles. You can also shop for these by color if you have a preference or if a certain hue is required at your job site.
Fall protection products include harnesses, lifelines and anchoring systems. Harnesses come in optional high-visibility colors and adjustable styles. Check the dimensions noted in product descriptions to make sure the harness you choose is the size you need. It's important to find a snug fit. Lifelines and anchoring systems also should be rated for the weight of the person using them. Look for a harness and harnessing system made with the type of clasps you prefer. Check the weight rating on each component of your fall-protection system to be sure it's going to keep you safe.