What is Personal Protective Equipment? 5 Main Types and 4 Levels of PPE


With a lot at stake, employee safety is paramount. Sharp edges, corrosive chemicals, hazardous fumes, falling objects noisy environments name them…depending on your niche, your employees are prone to either of the above life-threatening situations. Some working environments like power plants, oil refinery sites, constructions, and productions lines are naturally risky, accidents are inevitable. To ensure that your staff members are injury free and avert perilous experiences, providing your team with the ideal personal protective equipment is vital.



Part 1
What Is Personal Protective Equipment?

Typically known as PPE, personal protective equipment is a range of standardized gears worn to reduce chances and minimize the impact of injury causing situations while on the line of duty.

Part 2
Types of Personal Protective Equipment

Inclusive of a wide collection of attires that are designed using quality materials and cutting-edge technologies, these essential tools protect each and every inch of your employees if worn properly.

Generally, personal protective equipment comes in different types and models to protect various sections of the body. Common types of PPE include:

1. Head Safety PPE

Typically, there are a number of tools you can employ to combat head injuries and they include:

  • Helmets
  • Bump caps
  • Accessories
  • Hard hats
  • Guards

Tip: For additional comfort consider stylish designs with soft sweatbands and flexible interior binds

2. Personal Protection Equipment Against Eye Injuries

There are a number of PPE to employ to protect your employees against eye injuries. They include:

  • Eye shields
  • Face shields
  • Over specs
  • Safety goggles
  • Visors

3. PPE for the Ears

Another vital type of personal protection gears is those designed to protect the ears from getting damaged especially when working in highly noisy environments. Generally, earplugs are some of the commonly used tools employed. The main reason why most individuals prefer earplugs is that of their sheer comfort. For convenience, however, earmuffs should be ideal as they can be quickly removed or worn. For that reason, earmuffs and communication sets are perfect protective equipment for noisy workplaces that demands some level of flexibility when working as a team.

Other ideal types of ear PPE include:

  • Ear defenders
  • Noise meters
  • Acoustic foam

4. Respiratory PPE

While some workplaces put your employees at the risk of getting injured by falling objects as well as damage of sensitive body organs like the eyes and ears, others feature inhalable elements like irritating chemical fumes and pathogen carrying dust.

In addition to that, smoke and hazardous powders are also a major cause of respiratory-related infections. For that reason, supplying your workforce with ideal equipment that will protect your taskforce from inhaling these toxic particles emanating from gases and fumes is essential. To achieve this, there are a number of tools that you can employ.

Dust masks are vital personal protection tools perfectly designed to filter out the very fine dust particles that may evade other equipment.

Other ideal PPE to protect your respiratory system include:

  • Lightweight respirators
  • Powder respirators
  • Gas detectors
  • Filter respirators
  • Gas monitors

Tip: For highly toxic fumes and gases like chlorine, consider using a full-face mask as it protects not only the nose but also all the sense organs around the face (e.g. mouth and eyes).

5. PPE Against Hand Injury

While other body parts gain contact with hazardous materials accidentally, employees’ hands are tasked to manipulate perilous environments and materials.

Essentially gloves protect hands against a lengthy set of injurious situations like

  1. Extreme vibrations
  2. Sharp edges
  3. Hot surfaces
  4. Splashing chemicals and other corrosive materials

Other ideal types of personal protective equipment include:

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  • Safety footwear like gumboots
  • Workwear like overalls
  • Elbow and wrist support
  • Safety harness
  • Back support

Part 3
Different Levels of Personal Protective Equipment

There are four main levels of personal protective equipment:

1. Level A

Typically, this level deals with cases of respiratory, eye and skin exposure to corrosive chemicals and hazardous fumes such as chlorine and ammonia.

For protection against level A injuries, a number of PPEs can be used including:

  • Outer and inner chemical resistant gloves
  • Long pants made from chemical resistance materials
  • Chemical resistant boots
  • Filter respirators

2. Level B

Unlike level A which focuses on keeping the skin free from chemical spillages, level B PPE tackles more critical situations like contact to toxic gases and fumes.

While tools used in level A can be employed for these circumstances, it is important to note that sophisticated full face-piece breathing apparatus should be employed. Besides that, positive pressure supplied air respiratory equipment can be ideal.

3. Level C

In logic, there is an obvious similarity between level A and B. In practice, however, the two stages of PPE are virtually different.

While level B deals with unknown toxic gases and fumes, this incredible level of PPE helps protect your workforce against known substances. For that reason, specific tools are employed to purify the air thus ensuring long-lasting results.

Common equipment to consider for level C PPE purposes includes:

  • Air purifying masks
  • Biochemical resistance gear preferably with a hood
  • 2-piece biochemical splish-splash suit that should be worn alongside a chemical resistance clothing.
  • Biochemical resistance boots designed with reinforced steel toes

4. Level D

Among the various stages of workforce protection listed, level D guarantees to offer the least amount of protection. Typically inclusive of basic gadgets like gloves, safety glasses, and face shields, this stage helps protect your employees against harmful workplace situations like:

  • Chemical splashes
  • Immersions
  • Unexpected inhalation of toxic gases
  • Skin exposure to harmful surfaces (hot surfaces)

Part 4
Importance of Personal Protective Equipment

In any workplace, employee safety is imperative. Some of the incentives towards investing in personal protective equipment are:

  1. Improves workday quality by keeping all your workforce in the best working condition
  2. Protects vital and irreparable body organs like the eyes
  3. Protects your workforce from long-term illnesses that may result in early retirement
  4. Increases productivity by reducing cases of employee absenteeism due to injury
  5. Through protecting your employees from getting injured, these vital tools save your business from unnecessary budget-draining medical bills
  6. By wearing ideal protective gear, chances of injury greatly reduced thus reducing your expenses on mandatory insurance plans
  7. Boost employee motivation and willingness to work as their safety is assured

Part 5
Best Practices for Personal Protective Equipment

Some of the dos and don’ts of personal protective equipment include:

  1. Consider Perfectly Fitting Gear

    Besides safety, while working employee comfort is essential not only for better results but also concentration and professionalism. Whether wearing safety boots or eye shields, make sure that they are comfy and does not cause additional inconvenience.

  2. Avoid Loose Sleeves

    Especially when operating machinery, loose sleeves may get caught in the moving parts thus resulting in injury. For that reason, consider folding up all the loose sleeves on your overalls as well as other safety clothing.

  3. Avoid Safety Boots with Lases

    Classically, laced boots were fashionable. Apparently, however, since it was realized that most factory workers ended up getting up tripping over them, consider safety boots that are not designed with lases.

Other PPE Best Practices Include:

  • If possible wear double gloves for additional protection
  • Full face masks are recommended as it protects your whole face against corrosive elements
  • Consider a highly impermeable gown
  • For enhanced flexibility, consider rubber boots to closed shoes
  • After chemical spillage, it is good to consider a full PPE change

Personal protective equipment is an essential tool, especially when working in a risky environment. PPE ensures maximum workforce safety thus benefiting both the enterprise and individual employees, and therefore investing in ideal safety gear is essential.

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