PPE – Definition and Role

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as the name denotes, defines protective gear (goggles, clothing, helmets, shoes, eye protection, safety harnesses) specially created to shield its wearers from injury and infection, be they mechanical, electrical, airborne, or biohazard, as well as to notify others (non-wearers) of possible dangers. Owing to their roles, PPE may be used at home or in the workplace for as long as the need to protect all vulnerable body parts arises.

Role and types of PPE

As per the definition, PPE is designed to shield its wearers from every possible form of work-related risks. For instance, in the case of rail ppe intended to protect railway workers from the dangers they are exposed to, tough and durable hats, shoes and gloves, and Hi-Vis jackets are recommended.

Grouped by the type of protection they offer, PPE can be categorized into various groups including but not limited to:

- Hearing ppe like ear plugs and muffs.

- Respiratory ppe like face masks.

- Foot ppe like solid and durable shoes.

- Eye/Vision ppe like goggles, visors, and shields.

- Head ppe like helmets and caps.

- Skin ppe like long-sleeved clothing, aprons, leather jackets, and coveralls.

- Hand ppe like gloves.

Who uses PPE and why?

Commonly referred to as the "last line of defense against workplace hazards," most industries and companies make appropriate PPE available to their workers to reduce the risks of accidents especially in cases where the workers are exposed to significant measures of danger. Such situations include medical personnel and researchers working with airborne contaminants or other infectious materials, construction workers working at great heights, and miners. In addition to being used by workers for their protection, PPE equally serves to protect the public from dangers within danger zones. For example, road construction and rail ppe like vests, t-shirts, and Hi-Vis jackets are designed to be orange in color for the protection of both the wearers and the public. This way, the attention of approaching cars, motorbikes, and trains are captured when their drivers see the orange color. This is particularly important as most accidents occur as a result of poor visibility.