The Advocate - Hepburn

Understanding PPE: A comprehensive guide for tradies and apprentices

Photo by Shutterstock.
Photo by Shutterstock.

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In the diverse field of trades and construction, personal protective equipment (PPE) serves as the first line of defense against workplace hazards.

For tradies, apprentices, and everyone else on site, understanding and implementing the correct use of PPE is not just a regulatory requirement but a crucial aspect of everyday safety.

This guide will provide an overview of the basics of PPE, from the types of PPE to selecting the right PPE for the job and training information, to ensure you get the job done safely.

What is PPE?

PPE encompasses a range of gear that tradies and apprentices must wear to safeguard against various occupational hazards.

This gear is tailored to protect certain parts of the body as well as increase the workers' visibility on the site.

PPE is designed to mitigate risks such as physical injuries, chemical burns, electrical hazards, and other workplace dangers.

All workplaces with any physical occupational health and safety concerns will have PPE requirements. Construction companies, crane companies in Melbourne, warehouses, and manufacturing plants all require PPE.

Types of PPE

There are many types of PPE to consider.

Below is a brief list of the major kinds. Remember that this is not a full list, and it is worthwhile researching your specific application.

Head protection

Safety starts at the top. Helmets and hard hats are designed to protect your head against falling objects and bumps against fixed objects.

Remember, and this goes for all PPE, it should have a correct fit to ensure it doesn't obstruct vision or movement.

Eye and face protection

Jobs that involve cutting, welding, or handling chemicals require robust eye protection.

Face shields and safety goggles will protect against flying debris and splashes. Darkened goggles can be used to protect against bright light.

Hearing protection

Prolonged exposure to noise can lead to hearing loss. Earplugs and earmuffs are essential in environments with high noise levels, such as those involving heavy machinery.

Respiratory protection

Dust, fumes, and vapours are common in construction sites.

Masks and respirators are crucial for filtering harmful particles from the air, thus preventing respiratory problems.

It is important to remember that often toxic hazards can be both invisible and odourless, so it is best to err on the side of caution.

Hand protection

Gloves safeguard against cuts, burns, and chemical spills. The type of gloves used should correspond to the specific hazards of the job.

For example, working with blades and glass should be done with cut-resistant gloves. These come in various levels of resistance, tailored for the job at hand.

Foot protection

Steel capped boots are a staple of workplace PPE. These are mandatory in most workplaces and will protect you from being crushed.

Body protection

High-visibility clothing is vital for being seen on site, while other protective suits may be necessary for jobs involving hazardous materials.

Selecting the right PPE

With all these types of PPE to choose from, it can be difficult to know right from wrong. Ultimately, choosing appropriate PPE involves assessing the specific hazards of your workplace.

The right equipment should fit comfortably and allow you to perform your job without restriction. Poorly fitting PPE can be more of a hazard than no PPE, so trust your gut and if something feels wrong, speak out.

Training and awareness

Training plays a pivotal role in PPE effectiveness.

Everyone on the worksite should receive thorough training on the proper use, fit, and maintenance of PPE.

Moreover, creating a culture of safety in the workplace encourages everyone to take PPE seriously and to look out for one another's safety - this is especially true of new employees and apprentices who may not feel comfortable speaking up and asking for assistance.

Regular training sessions and reminders about the importance of PPE can help foster safe practices and reduce workplace injuries.

Employers must also be updated on changes in safety regulations and standards, ensuring that all safety gear meets national safety requirements.

For tradies and apprentices, PPE is not just equipment but a major contributor to safety.

By choosing the correct PPE, ensuring it fits well, and staying informed through constant training, workers can significantly mitigate the risks posed by their challenging work environments.

Always remember, the right PPE will help ensure you safely make it home from work.