Personal Protective Equipment provides protection to the wearer against certain risks of health and safety at work. It covers a vast array of items including, masks, helmets, gloves, googles, footwear, ear protection and high visibility clothing. Employers have obligations relating to the procurement and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the workplace. When employees are assured that their company cares for their health and safety, the workplace will surely flourish.

You should also take into consideration that PPE does not include items such as ordinary workwear, clothing for food hygiene purposes, bicycle and motorcycle helmets, portable detection devices and weapons used for self defence or as a deterrent.

PPE is really a last resort and should only be considered where the hazard that it will be protecting you from cannot be removed or controlled in order to prevent harm. It should always be used alongside other precautionary measures.

It is worth noting that:

  • Most protective items will only protect the wearer, meaning that others around you could still be at risk.
  • It is difficult to achieve high efficiency levels from PPE protection as it can often be poor fitting, unmaintained or used incorrectly.
  • PPE can often restrict the wearer’s visibility and mobility.
  • Users can often be misled, unaware that they are not completely protected from hazards and therefore awareness of other health and safety measures may be decreased.

Why is PPE Important?

PPE is just as important as other methods of risk control even though it may be at the bottom of the priority list.  It has a critical role when it comes to protecting people, without it, in circumstances where other safety measures and interventions are inadequate, employees could be left completely defenceless.  

Here are some examples of injuries it can help to provide protection against:

  • The head and feet - from falling tools, objects and materials
  • The eyes - from debris, dust and splashes from chemicals and other harmful liquids.
  • The respiratory system - from inhaling contaminated air, airborne viruses
  • The skin - from contact with hazardous substances, contaminated materials and bodily fluids.
  • The body - from exposure to extremities of temperature.

With the current pandemic sweeping the nation, some PPE items and respiratory protective equipment are probably more essential than ever as more and more people are needing to use them.  Healthcare workers rely heavily on such equipment to protect both themselves and their patients.  They require items such as visors, face masks, gloves, gowns and aprons but unfortunately, shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers inadequately equipped.  

PPE Facts

It is easy to see how PPE plays such an important factor in prevention and reduction of deaths, injuries and illnesses in the workplace worldwide.  Just to make it clear, here are some facts:

Head Injuries

  • 9% of all injuries are head injuries.
  • 84% of employees who sustain a head injury are not wearing head protection.

Eye Injuries

  • 50% of construction workers will suffer a serious eye injury at some point in  their career.
  • 90% of all workplace eye injuries are preventable with the use of proper safety eyewear.

Ear Injuries

  • 25% of workers are regularly exposed to noise at or above the recommended limits.
  • 99% of hearing loss induced by noise is preventable if proper ear protection is used.

Hand Injuries

  • 25% of all workplace accidents involve hands and fingers.
  • Wearing gloves can reduce the risk of such injuries by 60%.

The 4 main reasons given for not wearing appropriate PPE include:

  • It looks unattractive
  • It’s too hot
  • It doesn’t fit well
  • It’s not easily accessible

Is PPE A Legal Requirement?

Yes! There is an exhaustive list of legislation relating to PPE. Some of the key ones include:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Ect Act 1974, which is the main piece of legislation that covers occupational health and safety in Great Britain.  This provides employers with an obligation of responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their staff and others at work.
  • Management of Health and Safety At Work Regulations 1999, introduced to support and reinforce the above act.  It enforces employers and those who are self employed to determine and manage potential risks in the workplace by performing a risk assessment for their employees and others who may enter the workplace.  It will assist with identifying what safety precautions are required.
  • The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, this act makes it obligatory for employers to provide suitable PPE to their staff who may be exposed to health and safety risks in the workplace that cannot be eliminated by other means.

One, single accident or injury at work could cost a company more than the price it would have cost to provide a missed piece of PPE. The costs involved are extremely high with an annual cost of £14.9 billion owing to injuries and ill health caused by working conditions and over 2 million working days are lost due to work related injuries and illnesses. This does not cover the emotional and personal costs involved with more serious accidents or even loss of life in the workplace.

However, following the correct guidance and providing the necessary PPE you can keep yourself and your staff safe and enjoy all of the rewards that come with it.

Here at SHD Medical we have a great selection of PPE for you to choose from in order to ensure that you are doing what you can to keep everyone safe. To browse our range and current offers click here.


Post By Kelly Trethewey