What is PPE?

PPE has been in the news a lot lately due to COVID-19. If you’d never heard the phrase before, you aren’t alone. But PPE has always been an important part of personal safety–and will continue to be an essential part of safety once things are settled back to normal too. So what exactly is PPE and what does it include?

What does PPE mean?

PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment. Basically, PPE is anything that will protect your person from hazards in the workplace. Every workplace has some kind of hazards to deal with. But some have more than others.

There are several different classifications of hazards, and the piece of equipment will have a rating for how well it deals with a specific hazard. Some of these hazards include electrical, fire, chemical, radiation and physical (cuts etc.).

Types of PPE

PPE is all about protecting you from harm. Some of the types of PPE that you’ll commonly see are:

Head protection

The head is arguably the most important part of the body, so proper protection is crucial. Helmets or hard hats are a requirement in many types of jobs for good reason. They protect against falling objects but also lacerations, heat, and other hazards.

Eye protection

Protecting the eyes is very important because the eyes are easily damaged and that damage can be long-term. Eye protection typically includes goggles and safety glasses, but also face shields. Eye protection can protect from things like gases and vapours, flung objects and shards, and harmful light like lasers and ultraviolet.

Hand protection

For many people, hands are their livelihood. So it’s important to keep them protected. Hand protection is mostly gloves but also includes products like hand sanitiser too. The type of gloves varies widely depending on the industry. Disposable gloves are required for many health workers, and working gloves like welding gloves, chemical-resistant gloves, cut-proof gloves are used in other industries.

Every pair of gloves comes with a four-digit code, with each digit representing a different level of safety in a different area of protection. We recently had a glove expert come by and explain these safety levels in detail, check out the video below to find out more!

Hearing protection

Many workplaces have an extremely loud environment and equipment that doesn’t have a quiet mode. Hearing protection helps safeguard your ears and hearing from these noises that can become damaging over time. Basic earplugs are enough for some jobs. But others require something more robust. Radio earmuffs are an excellent double-up. They’ll provide protection from environmental sounds while still letting you hear from other people on the job.

Chest and body protection

The majority of your vital organs are in the torso, and chest and body protection helps to keep them protected. Body protection includes items like vests that are resistant to hazards. Another important thing in body protection is high-visibility. High vis clothing is essential for some jobs at night but is also good to have anywhere in low-light conditions where visibility is low.

Respiratory Protection

Respiratory protection is all about making sure that you can breathe properly. The equipment ensures that you get the oxygen you need and keeps out harmful gases and particles out of your lungs. Masks work in some instances but for more intensive purposes, a respirator filters out any harmful particles to keep your lungs safe.

What level of PPE do I need?

While it might seem like getting the highest protection is ideal, that’s not always the case. Greater levels of protection not only come with a higher cost, but they tend to be harder to manoeuvre in, slowing down movement and other tasks.

There are minimum safety requirements for different kinds of jobs. Any employer will have this information on file. If you work for yourself, you can find the requirements that were put in place by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Where do I get PPE?

You can get your required PPE at most safety shops around New Zealand. At Safety1st, we have a large range of protective gear including gloves, boots, first aid kits, safety glasses, and much more. Take a look at our shop page and order the PPE you need for your job or next project.