Personal protective equipment (PPE) substantially reduces fatalities and injuries among workers. Approximately 20 million workers use PPE on a regular basis to protect themselves from job hazards. PPE protects workers from death, disabling injuries, illnesses, and specific exposure threats to airborne biological particles, chemical agents, splashes, noise exposures, fall hazards, head hazards, and fires. A lot of grey areas and confusion surround PPE, making it important to understand when and how to properly use PPE while adhering to the correct safety requirements for your job.
Some of the most common myths about PPE include:
Myth #1 – You can continue to wear old PPE once you’ve received new PPE if it is more comfortable.
Truth – The truth is PPE begins to break down and becomes worn over time. New gear will provide you with better protection since it has not been worn, scratched, or damaged by the sun’s UV rays.
Myth #2 – Safety glasses are uncomfortable and not practical when it’s humid or raining outside.
Truth – Safety glasses have come a long way over the years. You can now purchase scratch-resistant and anti-fog safety glasses. You can also purchase sprays that reduce fogging.
Myth #3 – If you wear leather gloves, you cannot get cut.
Truth – Leather gloves are not cut-resistant and are easily penetrable. If you are performing a task where you could be cut, it is best to use cut-resistant gloves. Cut-resistant gloves can also still be penetrated, so use extreme caution when working with sharp objects.
Myth #4 – Safety boots are worn to protect your feet from falling objects.
Truth – While safety boots do protect your feet from falling objects and slips, they are designed to protect against sharp objects that can penetrate your boot and hurt your foot from below.
Myth #5 – I cannot wear chemical-resistant gloves because I’m allergic to latex.
Truth – Individuals who have a latex allergy can wear a synthetic alternative glove, such as nitrile or vinyl.
Myth #6 – It is not important to clean your PPE.
Truth – Cleaning your PPE according to manufacturer’s instructions every time you use it is a must.
Myth #7 – Wearing PPE guarantees your safety.
Truth – PPE should be your last line of defense when engineering and administrative controls could not reduce the risks associated with a hazard. PPE will keep you safe only if you’re wearing and using it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and you have taken the required steps to eliminate or reduce any hazards by implementing engineering and administrative controls.
Myth #8 – You cannot make your employees wear PPE if they don’t want to.
Truth – If PPE is required for performing a task, it must be worn. However, it is good practice to get your employees involved in the safety process by asking them to try out various PPE styles and types, allowing them to select the specific PPE they prefer. If the worker finds it comfortable and feels more invested in the process, they are more likely to comply with wearing the equipment.
Myth #9 – It is your responsibility to protect yourself when performing your work duties.
Truth – It is the employer’s responsibility to provide the PPE required for a specific task. The employer must show you where the equipment is stored, give you instructions on how to use it, and what to do if it needs to be replaced.
Myth #10 – This job will only take a few minutes, so I don’t need to put on my PPE.
Truth – It only takes a second for an accident to occur. Whether you’ll be in a hazardous area for five minutes or five hours, you must use all required PPE. Failing to do so leads to injuries and death.
RETTEW’s safety consultants offer PPE training and fit testing services, and can assist with identifying and developing engineering and administrative controls to help keep your employees safe. Please contact Kelly Kramer, CECD, HEM, at 800.738.8395 for more information.
Safety training and consulting are only some of RETTEW’s 600+ services. Our safety team works hand in hand with engineers, scientists, project managers, and other technical experts at places such as manufacturing facilities, drill pads, and commercial construction sites. We are well respected in many industries and known for ensuring workers and equipment remain safe, which keeps your projects on track and your bottom line growing.