Whether you’re in construction, manufacturing, or retail, you face a number of workplace hazards that could lead to injuries or cause damage to your business. On-the-job injuries can have an impact on your operations and your bottom line, as well as negatively impact employee morale.
An occupational health and safety plan can help keep you and your employees safe. Part of this planning requires making sure your employees have the right equipment to do their jobs safely. Personal protective equipment, also referred to as PPE, can range from hard hats to safety boots and many things in between.
PPE works quite simply by placing a barrier between the worker and the hazard. The type of equipment required varies widely, depending on the type of workplace, the kind of work being done, and the nature of potential hazards that may be present.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, PPE has become essential in slowing the spread of the virus, as masks, gloves, goggles, and face shields help prevent potential exposure. Public health officials across Canada have made it mandatory for businesses to use PPE.
To help your business choose the right protective equipment, here is a list of the most common types of PPE.
- Head protection: The familiar hard hat is designed to protect the wearer against injury to the head. Different types and classes of hard hats provide protection against impact and penetration from above or laterally, as well as provide different levels of protection against electrical contact.
- Eye protection: Protective eyewear can include a range of things including safety glasses, goggles, masks, and face shields. Any work that involves hammering, drilling, cutting, or other operations that can cause particles to fly requires eye protection. Safety glasses, preferably with side shields, provide impact protection against flying objects, while well-fitting safety googles provide protection against dust and debris in the air.
- Hearing protection: Exposure over time to loud noises can cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).That’s why workers exposed to noise in the workplace must wear hearing protection at all times. Choices include ear plugs, generally made of soft foam that fits snugly in the ear canal; semi-insert plugs, or ear bands, with reusable plugs fitted to a rigid headband to hold them in place; and ear muffs, which fit completely over each ear.
- Hand protection: Protective gloves come in many different types designed to deal with many different hazards.Chemical protective gloves are available to provide protection against exposure to many different chemicals. There are also protective gloves designed to protect against abrasions, cuts, and punctures. Others can protect against extreme heat and cold, as well as electrical hazards.
- Breathing protection: There are many types of breathing protection available, ranging from simple dust masks designed to filter out airborne particulates, to chemical canister respirators and even supplied air breathing apparatuses used where oxygen levels are low or toxic gases are present.
- Foot protection:Safety footwear comes in various types designed to protect against a range of workplace hazards. Impact and crush resistance – the familiar “steel toe” or hard cap – can be one of the key requirements, along with puncture resistance for the sole and sides of the footwear. Other safety features may include protection against electrical contact, slip resistance, ankle protection, and cut resistance, for certain types of specialized foot protection. Shopping for safety shoes? Here are some tips on finding a great fit for your feet and your safety needs.
- Specialized PPE: There are many other types of PPE that are used in specific industries and for specific applications: the welder’s face shield that protects against intense UV light, the chemist’s splash guard face shield, a chainsaw operator’s cut-resistant pants, and even high-visibility clothing or vests worn by traffic control personnel are just a few examples.
- PPE during a pandemic: Masks, gloves, face shields, and eye protection are types of PPE that can help reduce the risk of exposure to a virus like COVID-19 at your workplace. In Canada, workers must use PPE in the workplace when it is required. The Government of Canada has established a resource hub to help businesses source the PPE they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health and safety legislation requires the use of appropriate PPE in the workplace and generally spells out specific duties for employers, supervisors, and workers. Workplace policies in line with the concept of “due diligence” often need to go well beyond the legislated minimums. Every workplace where potential hazards are present should have a formal PPE program, guided by written policies and procedures that spell out what types of equipment are required for which jobs and locations. PPE also needs to be properly maintained and inspected on a regular basis.
Employers must provide instruction on what kind of PPE is needed and how to properly use it, maintain it, and clean it. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety outlines how your business can design an effective PPE Program.
Protect your business and employees with reliable coverage
PPE is not the only way you can help protect your employees and your business. The right insurance coverage can help your business recover in the event of an injury, accident, loss, or damage. At TruShield, we’ll work with you to tailor a solution that addresses your risks, at a rate you can afford. Learn more by visiting our business insurance page today!
This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information.