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Personal Protective Equipment: Protecting Workers from Occupational Injuries

Non-fatal injuries are the most common types of injury industrial workers usually encounter. Slipping on liquids, tripping over objects or getting cut by sharp tools are some of the accidents that happen within the workplace. These accidents may lead to broken ankles or wrists, open wounds and burns that need immediate medical attention. Injuries such as these take time to heal. Decrease in manpower decreases a company's productivity and profits will stagger. Furthermore, the company will be liable to compensate for their injured workers.

To avoid these accidents, companies are required to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that promotes workers' safety. OSHA mandates the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect workers from immediate dangers (29 CFR 1910.132). PPE is any type of protective gear that workers need to wear or use before handling any equipment, materials or wastes. They help lessen the employees' risk of being exposed to accidents and hazards.

Here are some of the PPE that protects workers from occupational hazards:

Hard hats - these are made of hard plastic which protect the head from impacts of falling debris, hard objects, electric shocks, and penetration of sharp objects leading to head trauma.

Body Suits - full-body suits with breathing apparatus are donned when workers are exposed to extremely hazardous areas or situations such as excessive chemical and oil spills, radiation, gas leaks, biohazard wastes and infectious organisms. Body suits with no breathing apparatus are used as regular body protection against less hazardous conditions such as fixing water leaks.

Gloves - these are worn to minimize hand injuries from lacerations, chemical burns, hot surfaces, electrical shocks and skin infections.

Boots, safety shoes, foot guards and leggings - these foot and leg gears protect workers' feet from injuries caused by slippery floors, extreme temperature conditions, infection and sharp debris.

Goggles and spectacles - these shield the eyes from dangerous glass shards, saw dust, hot glares, metallic pieces, chemical liquids, radiation, smoke and toxic fumes which can cause severe eye injuries, resulting to blindness.

Face shields - these are transparent or tinted masks used to cover the face to prevent burns from hot sparks, chemical splashes or any harmful fragments.

Earplugs and earmuffs - these are used to protect the ears from deafening sounds created by heavy machinery or explosives that may cause hearing impairment.

Personal Protective Equipment or PPE help prevent non-fatal injuries among industrial workers. These protective gears increase employees' safety means against potential hazards in the work field. Although, wearing them do not necessarily mean a person is fully protected in all aspects of danger such as fires, explosions, and other industrial disasters. They are merely preventive measures that directly give immediate security to certain body parts. Proper maintenance and handling of PPE must also be practiced by the workers for better utilization.

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