The term ‘Personal Protective Equipment’ embedded itself fully into common parlance during the Covid-19 pandemic. But it’s not just facemasks and respirators that fall into this category; just about every item of clothing or headgear that we wear to protect ourselves qualifies as PPE.

Types of PPE

PPE comes in many different types.

If you’re working in a loud environment, like a heavy metal concert or a building site, then you might want to plug your ears, or wear over-ear defenders. If you’re working with hazards that might shoot out into your face, then wearing protective goggles or glasses might spell the difference between disaster and mere inconvenience. Wearing the appropriate PPE will reduce absenteeism, and also reduce the likelihood that anyone will be laid off for good with a serious injury.

What does PPE not include?

It’s worth being explicit about the items that don’t fall under this category. Ordinary uniforms don’t count as PPE, nor do the helmets worn by motorcyclists and cyclists. The same goes for sports equipment, like mouthguards, cups and shin-pads. On the other hand, lifejackets do count as personal protective equipment.

What Industries should PPE be used in?

Certain industries stand out as intrinsically more unsafe than others. In many cases, these assumptions are borne out by the statistics. Workers in agriculture and construction are more likely to be involved in workplace accidents, and more likely to face lengthy spells out of work as a result of the injuries they suffer as a result.

With that said, there are other industries that benefit from PPE.

In the automotive sector, where welding and loud noises are commonplace, workers benefit from face protection and ear protection. Gloves might also be critical, especially where workers are fiddling with potentially dangerous engines and moving components.

Healthcare is an industry we’ve already touched on, where the right PPE can make a difference not just to the employee wearing it, but to everyone with whom they might plausibly come into contact. By wearing facemasks and gloves, healthcare workers can reduce the likelihood that they’ll come into contact with a dangerous pathogen, and spread it to other vulnerable patients. This applies in the case of Covid-19, but also elsewhere.

For much the same reason, workers who are preparing food should be equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment. What’s more, procedures should be in place to ensure that the equipment in question is regularly replaced.

The extraction of raw materials can also present safety challenges, especially for workers on offshore rigs. Gloves and protective overalls can minimise the likelihood of an injury being sustained. The natural world can often be difficult to predict, and PPE can play a crucial role in controlling the danger.