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Personal Protective Equipment
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is equipment worn to minimize exposure by creating a barrier between you and a hazard. Personal protective equipment is not a substitute for good engineering, administrative controls, or good work practices. PPE is used in conjunction with these controls to ensure safety and health. Examples of PPE include respirators, gloves, aprons, as well as fall, head, eye and foot protection. PPE does not reduce the hazard itself, nor does it guarantee permanent or total protection. PPE is merely used to reduce or minimize the exposure or contact to injurious physical, chemical, or biological agents.
PPE Responsibility - Each department is responsible for assessing work areas to determine if hazards are present that would necessitate the use of personal protective equipment. When such hazards exist, the department is responsible for defining what PPE is required and for communicating the requirements to those who are affected.
If you need any assistance regarding PPE, consult your supervisor, instructor, or contact Safety and Environmental Health at 777-3341.
Arm and Hand Protection - Arm and hand protection is required when injury can be prevented by their use. Supervisors are to evaluate tasks and make arm and hand protection available when needed. There is a wide assortment of gloves, hand pads, and sleeves for protection from various hazards. Hazards can include, but are not limited to, skin absorption of harmful substances, severe cuts or lacerations, severe abrasions, punctures, chemical burns, electrical shock, vibration, amputation, or harmful temperature extremes.
Follow these guidelines when arm and hand protection is necessary:
- Verify that your gloves are compatible with your specific applications, processes, and materials before using. Your glove manufacturer or the Safety and Environmental Health Office can help you with glove selection.
- Inspect gloves and arm barriers for defects before using. Never use defective or altered arm and hand protection.
- When performing processes during which gloves will receive prolonged, direct exposure to chemicals, use a glove specifically designed for chemical handling.
- To avoid the risk of chemical cross-contamination, immediately remove gloves after use.
- Double gloving provides additional barrier protection and allows the outer glove to be disposed of after contact with chemicals without exposing the hand.
- Do not use powdered gloves with substances known to pose inhalant hazards.
- If you develop any allergies (for example latex) or have problems with glove use, report them to your supervisor or instructor.
Examples of gloves that are available:
Disposable Gloves: Usually made of lightweight plastic, can help guard against irritants and biohazards and are often used for food-handling and health care operations.
Fabric Gloves: Gloves made of cotton or fabric blends are generally used to improve your grip when handling slippery objects. They also help insulate your hands from mild heat or cold.
Chemical Resistant Gloves: May be made of neoprene, nitrile, rubber, or vinyl. Help protect hands from corrosives such as organic acids and petroleum-based products.
Leather Gloves: Used to guard against injuries from sparks or scraping against rough surfaces. They are also used in combination with an insulated liner when working with electricity.
Metal Mesh Gloves: Used to protect against accidental cuts and scratches. Primarily used by persons working with cutting tools or other sharp instruments.
Thermal Gloves: Designed to insulate your hands from intense heat or cold. Most often used by persons working with molten materials or cryogens.
Body (torso) Protection - Many hazards can threaten the torso: heat, splashes from hot metals and liquids, impacts, cuts, chemicals, and radiation. A variety of protective clothing is available: vests, jackets, aprons, coveralls, and full body suits. Fire retardant wool and specially treated cotton clothing items are comfortable, and they adapt well to a variety of workplace temperatures. Other types of protection include leather, rubberized fabrics, and disposable suits. You must wear body (torso) protection if it is required in your area.
Ear and Hearing Protection - Exposure to high noise levels can cause irreversible hearing loss or impairment. It can also create physical and psychological stress. You must wear hearing protection if it is required for the task you are performing or if it is required in the area. The OSHA personal exposure limit is 90 decibels for an eight-hour time weighted average. As a good rule of thumb, if you cannot hear your normal speaking voice over a particular noise, you likely should be using hearing protection.
There are many different types of hearing protection available. Earmuffs are attached to a band (or to a hardhat) that fits around the top of the head and cover the entire ear. Earplugs fit in the ear. A professional should individually fit preformed or molded earplugs. Waxed cotton, foam or fiberglass wool earplugs are self-forming. Disposable earplugs should be thrown away after each use; non-disposable ones should be cleaned after each use.
Eye and Face Protection - Eye protection must be worn if required in your area and/or when performing operations with a potential for eye injury. Protection should be based on kind and degree of hazard present and should be:
- reasonably comfortable
- fit properly
- in good condition.
Protective eyewear must be in accordance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Look for ANSI labeling on the protective eyewear you plan to use. If you need assistance, ask your supervisor, instructor, or contact Safety and Environmental Health.
The types of eye and face protection vary. Some common examples are as follows::
- Safety glasses - look very much like normal eyeglasses, but are designed to protect against flying particles. Safety glasses have lenses that are impact resistant and frames that are far stronger than normal eyeglasses. Safety glasses must be worn whenever there is the possibility of flying particles entering the eye. Normal eyeglasses fitted with side shields are not sufficient, although it is possible to get prescription safety glasses.
- Goggles - must be worn when there is potential of a splash from a hazardous material. Like safety glasses, goggles are impact resistant. Chemical splash goggles should have indirect or no ventilation so hazardous substances cannot drain into the eye area. They may be worn over prescription glasses.
- Face shields - appropriate when working with large volumes of hazardous materials, either for protection from splash to the face or from flying particles. Face shields must be used in conjunction with safety glasses or goggles.
Contact lenses may be worn in conjunction with eye and face protection, but are not designed to offer any protection from chemical contact. If a contact lens becomes contaminated with a hazardous chemical, the lens should be removed immediately and discarded. Use the emergency eyewash as appropriate.
Foot Protection - Footguards, safety shoes or boots, and/or leggings must be worn as necessary to protect the feet and legs from falling or rolling objects, sharp objects, molten metal, hot or cold surfaces, and wet or slippery surfaces.
Aluminum alloy, fiberglass, or galvanized steel foot guards can be worn over regular work shoes. Be aware that they may present the possibility of catching on something and causing you to trip.
Safety shoes must be sturdy and have an impact-resistant toe. In some shoes, metal insoles protect against puncture wounds. Additional protection, such as metatarsal guards, may be found in some types of footwear. Heat-resistant soled shoes protect against hot surfaces like those found in the roofing, paving, and hot metal industries. Safety shoes come in a variety of styles and materials, such as leather and rubber boots and oxfords.
Leggings protect the lower leg and feet from molten metal or welding sparks. Safety snaps permit their rapid removal.
Safety footwear is classified according to its ability to meet minimum requirements for both compression and impact tests. These requirements and testing procedures are found in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. Protective footwear must comply with the ANSI standards.
Head Protection - Head injuries are caused by falling or flying objects, or by bumping the head against a fixed object. Head protection must do two things - resist penetration and absorb the shock of the blow. Protective helmets are also used to protect against electrical shock.
Protective helmets come in different types and classes that provide protection against specific hazards. When selecting head protection, please consult the Safety and Environmental Health Office on the appropriate type and class of head protection.
Appropriate head protection is required for all construction work where there is the potential for head injury from impact, falling or flying objects, or electrical shocks. In non-construction areas, the appropriate head protection must be worn when working in areas where there is the potential for injury from falling objects or overhead hazards. Helmets used in electrical work applications must be non-conductive. For information on what work areas require head protection, consult your supervisor, instructor, or the Safety and Environmental Health Office.
Observe the following general requirements for the selection, use, maintenance, and inspection of helmets:
- Must meet ANSI standards.
- Adjust headband to the proper size in order to provide sufficient clearance between the shell and the headband.
- Chinstraps should be kept in place and adjusted so that the helmet stays in place on the head.
- In very cold weather, helmet liners may be used.
- Drilling or punching holes in the helmet shell in an attempt to get additional ventilation is not allowed. This lessens the helmet's ability to sustain impact.
- Visually inspect helmets and all components daily for signs of cracks, penetration, or any other damage that might reduce the degree of safety originally provided.
- Never alter a helmet such that the performance of the helmet is compromised.
- Helmets should not be stored or carried on the rear-window shelf of an automobile, since sunlight and extreme heat may adversely affect the degree of protection.
Where the possibility of hair or head contamination (with chemical, radioactive, or other undesirable agent) exists, a close-fitting head cover is to be worn. Where hazardous liquids may fall or drip from overhead, the head cover must be resistant to the hazardous chemical. When both contamination and contact hazards exists, head covers must be used in conjunction with helmets.
Respiratory Protection - Respiratory protection is designed to provide acceptable employee protection against respirable dusts, toxins, vapors, fumes, mists, radioactive air contaminants, and oxygen deficiency when engineering controls are not adequate, feasible, or applicable.
The use of a respirator can help to prevent overexposure to hazardous substances or atmospheres that may adversely affect a person's health or safety.
All persons who are required to wear a respirator must participate in the University's Respiratory Protection Program. Certain exemptions apply for the voluntary use of dust masks: please refer to the Respiratory Protection Program.
Supervisors are responsible for informing persons under their direction of the respiratory protection required in the performance of their jobs.
Respirator users are responsible for wearing the appropriate respiratory equipment according to proper instructions and for maintaining the equipment in a clean and operable condition.
Departments are encouraged to develop additional procedures applicable to their specific operations and to correlate them with the requirements of the University Respiratory Protection Program. These additions should be approved by the Respiratory Protection Program Administrator.
For further information on respiratory protection, please refer to the Respiratory Protection Program or contact Safety and Environmental Health.