When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE) in the workplace there can be a lot of confusion.
How much PPE do I really need for a certain job? What type of gloves should I use? Do I really need to clean my personal protective equipment after I use it?
The world of health and safety management can be mind-boggling, so let's bust eight common misconceptions about personal protective equipment...
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MYTH #1: 'If my employees don't want to wear PPE, I can't make them.'
Eight common misconceptions about PPE
TRUTH: If you and/or your Safety Managers decide that PPE is necessary for a particular job, then it's not optional. Management has every right to require and insist on its use.
MYTH #2: 'The more PPE I wear the better.'
TRUTH: Both over-protection and under-protection can be equally dangerous. Over-protection can lead to heat stress by wearing too many layers. Under-protection can lead to chronic health problems after years of exposure to certain hazardous substances. The goal is to find PPE that offers the best protection against workplace hazards, while at the same time providing the greatest comfort to the wearer.
MYTH #3: 'Gloves are slippery, and don't allow me to get a good hold on objects.'
TRUTH: You can find gloves that have a textured finish on the fingertips, making it easier to grasp small and lightweight objects like test tubes and glassware. For larger, heavier objects gloves are available that have a rough surface which directs fluids away from the grip surface.
MYTH #4: 'This job will only take a few minutes so I don't need to take the time to put on PPE.'
TRUTH: It only takes a second for an accident to happen. Whether you'll be in a hazardous area for 10 minutes or 10 hours, you need to have on all necessary PPE. Exceptions lead to injuries and deaths!
Eight of the most common PPE myths continued…
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MYTH #5: 'I can't wear gloves, I have a latex allergy.'
Four of the most common PPE myths busted
TRUTH: Employees with a latex allergy can switch to a synthetic option, like nitrile, neoprene or vinyl gloves.
MYTH #6: 'As long as I'm wearing one piece of PPE that's good enough.'
TRUTH: Employees need to wear all PPE necessary for the job. Failure to do so can have serious outcomes, including injury and death. While working with chemicals they may be wearing goggles to protect their eyes from splashes. But if they're not wearing gloves or a proper jacket, their hands and body are at risk to chemical burns. When deciding what types of PPE your employees need for a job, consider all areas of the body, from the head and face to the internal organs.
MYTH #7: 'If I'm wearing leather gloves, I won't get cut.'
TRUTH: Even though it's thick, leather is still just skin. It can be cut just as easily as human skin, especially when wet. If your employees need leather gloves for a job, issue ones with the best protection, agility and physical performance based on the specific job duties. Your workers need to be careful when handling sharp objects and machinery, keeping in mind that leather gloves can't prevent cuts.
MYTH #8: 'Cleaning and storing PPE isn't really important.'
TRUTH: After each use, your employees must clean and store their PPE properly according to the label instructions. If there's just something small wrong with the PPE, it won't function the way it's meant to. And if it's not working properly, your employees are more open to the risk of injury and health problems. Employees must immediately report PPE that's worn-out or has damage so that Managers can issue replacements.
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