Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection

Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection that means does not exempt in any case from the obligation to use a PPE. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Hierarchy of Controls, personal protective equipment is the last level of protection to prevent occupational injuries, illnesses, and deaths. In this blog, everything you need to know about personal protective equipment (PPE) and how to stay safe on the job

Personal protective equipment meaning

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a type of clothing or equipment designed to prevent or reduce employee exposure to hazards. PPE is used to protect employees when engineering and administrative controls fail to bring the hazards to an acceptable level. Control measures to guarantee a safe and healthy environment for its workers. Here are some of the benefits of wearing personal protective equipment:

  • prevent unnecessary injuries in the workplace.
  • protect employees from excessive exposure to chemicals.
  • help companies comply with regulatory requirements.
  • improve employee productivity and efficiency.

Personal protective equipment includes

Employers must ensure that each employee follows personal protective equipment guidelines and that the equipment is adequate to protect employees from hazards even when an employee provides their protective equipment.

Personal protective equipment is the last level of defence according to NIOSH. It is a false claim to believe that once an employee wears personal protective equipment they are fully protected. Personal protective equipment only minimizes the chance of exposure or may reduce the severity of the injury. Safety is paramount for all companies in all sectors.

Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection
Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection

The use of personal protective equipment is essential to protect employees from risks and hazards. Personal protective equipment includes:

  • Head protection
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Respiration protection
  • Face protection
  • Body protection
  • Hand protection
  • Foot protection
  • Fall protection

Head protection

Personal protective equipment including helmets must be necessary for tasks that may cause any force or object to fall on the head. It will include the defence of the skull, face and neck and will complete, where appropriate, the specific protection of the eyes and ears.

When there is a risk of falling or violent projection of objects on the head or blows, the use of protective helmets will be mandatory. Safety helmets may be with a full brim around them, partially protecting the ears and neck, or with a visor, on the front only, and in both cases.

Eye protection

The protection of sight will be carried out through the use of safety glasses. Goggles and other eye protection elements must always be kept clean and protected against rubbing. Eye protection means will be selected based on the following risks:

  • Shock or impact with particles or solid bodies.
  • Dust and fumes in the workplace or work activities.
  • Projection or splash of cold, hot, caustic liquids, or molten metals.
  • Irritating, caustic or toxic gaseous substances.
  • Dangerous radiations due to their intensity or nature.
  • Glare.

Hearing protection

When the noise level in a job or work area exceeds the established safety margin and, in any case, when it exceeds 80 decibels, the use of individual hearing protection elements or devices will be mandatory, without prejudice to the general insulation and soundproofing measures to be adopted. Hearing protection elements will always be for individual use. Personal protective equipment includes ear muffs and plugs and should be used for tasks that can cause hearing problems and hearing loss. Make sure the equipment fits perfectly in the ear canal.

Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection
Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection

It is recommended to use deformable earplugs that adapt to different sizes of ear canals. Use protectors that reduce noise to an acceptable level to have a space for communication. Make sure the earplugs are clean and in good condition.

Protection of the respiratory system.

Respiratory protection equipment includes full-face respirators, self-contained breathing apparatus, gas masks, N95 respirators, and surgical masks used for a task that may cause inhalation of harmful materials to enter the body. This includes harmful gases, chemicals, large droplets, aerosols, splashes, or sprays that may contain viruses and bacteria such as COVID-19, viral infections, and more.

Read the instructions carefully to determine if it is designed to help protect you against hazards you may face. Change the filters on the respirator masks frequently. Replace disposable respirators with each use. Surgical masks should not be shared with anyone. Avoid touching the surgical mask after wearing it. Please change the surgical mask in time; must be discarded after use.

The protective equipment of the respiratory apparatus will meet the following characteristics:

  • They will be of the type appropriate to the risk.
  • They will fit completely to the facial contour to avoid leaks.
  • They will determine the minimum inconvenience to the worker.
  • They will be cleaned and disinfected after use.

The use of respiratory masks is authorized only in workplaces where there are atmospheres with toxic gas or dangerous fumes poor ventilation or a marked oxygen deficit.

Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection
Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection

Face protection

For protection against radiation in the furnace and foundry work, a reflective screen must be used, with dark visor glass for filtering light radiation. In electric welding work, the welding hood and the activities of grinding and cutting the face shield will be used to prevent slags and sparks.

Body protection

All workers who are subject to certain risks of accidents or professional illnesses or whose work is especially markedly dirty will be obliged to use coveralls or disposal Coveralls that will be provided free of charge by the organization. Personal protective equipment includes safety vests and suits that can be used for tasks that can cause bodily injury from extreme temperatures, flames and sparks, toxic chemicals, insect bites, and radiation.

Make sure they are clean and free of cuts or burns. Make sure the suit is a heat-resistant garment when working with high-temperature hazards.

Coverall will generally meet the following minimum requirements:

  • It will be made of light and flexible fabric, which allows easy cleaning and disinfection and is suitable for the temperature and humidity conditions of the workplace.
  • It will adjust well to the worker’s body, without prejudice to its comfort and ease of movement.
    In jobs with the risk of accidents, the use of ties, scarves, belts, suspenders, bracelets, chains, necklaces, rings, etc. will be prohibited.

Hand protection

Personal protective equipment includes safety gloves used to protect workers’ hands from burns, fractures, amputations, harmful substances and cuts. Always replace them if you notice any signs of contamination. The protection of hands, forearms and arms will be done using gloves, sleeves, mittens and sleeves selected to prevent existing risks and to avoid the difficulty of movement for the worker.

These protection elements will be made of rubber, polyvinyl chloride, and chrome-tanned leather depending on the characteristics or risks of the work to be performed. Lead gloves for protection against X-rays will reach at least halfway up the forearm and will be no less than 0.50 millimetres thick, without prejudice to their maximum lightness and flexibility.

Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection
Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection

For manoeuvres with electricity, gloves made of rubber, neoprene or plastic materials must be used, which are indelibly marked with the maximum voltage for which they have been manufactured, prohibiting the use of other gloves that do not meet this essential requirement.

Foot protection

Personal protective equipment includes knee pads and safety boots and should be worn for tasks that could result in serious injury to the feet and legs from falling or rolling objects, hot substances, electrical hazards, and slippery surfaces. Make sure the boots have non-slip soles that can protect against compression and impact. Make sure the sole is in good condition to avoid punctures.

In jobs with risks of mechanical accidents to the feet, the use of safety boots or shoes with metal reinforcement on the toecap will be mandatory. Faced with the risk derived from the use of corrosive liquids or against chemical risks, footwear with rubber, and neoprene will be used. Protection against water and humidity will be carried out with high rubber boots.

Fall protection

Personal protective equipment includes harnesses and lanyards and must be used strictly for tasks that can cause falls from heights and serious injury or death. Make sure the straps do not have tears, deformities, or burn marks. Check if the buckles are connected securely and firmly. Dispose of equipment if used after a fall incident. Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection

In all work at heights with the risk of an eventual fall, the use of a safety harness will be mandatory. They will always be checked before use and will be discarded when they have cuts, cracks or fraying that compromise their resistance, calculated for the human body in free fall, over a distance of six meters.

Personal Protective Equipment for COVID-19

Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection

The global COVID-19 pandemic is widely affecting the economy, businesses and living standards around the world. The implementation of the use of personal protection elements such as masks and face shields in public areas is mandatory in different countries to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. However, this protocol does not guarantee that current risks have changed substantially.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have established guidelines on the correct way to wear face masks to protect against acquiring or spreading the virus.


According to OSHA employers must conduct training on personal protective equipment, including when it should be used, what proper equipment should be used, how to use and adjust it, equipment limitations, and proper maintenance and disposal of this equipment. So you will have to understand why personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection.

Health and safety topics

Personal Protective Equipment is the level of protection

  1. 5 types of workplace hazards
  2. fire extinguisher inspections requirements
  3. What is health surveillance at work
  4. Safety data sheet definition
  5. Thermal Comfort Definition



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