The benefits of protective clothing

Irrespective of the working environment, it’s essential that contractors plan accordingly and protect themselves with the right choice of personal protective clothing (PPE). Reece Safety, a provider of life critical safety products, explains more.

Many workplaces require workers and visitors to wear personal protective clothing (PPE) while on worksite premises if there are hazards present in the area, such as open flames or chemicals which can cause harm. It is important that PPE is always worn correctly whilst in a hazardous area, as this will prevent accidents from occurring and make for a safer work environment.

By having PPE in place within the workspace, workers should not have to worry about being safe at work, which therefore reduces the likelihood of workplace injury or short-term/long-term health issues caused by a situation that protective clothing may have prevented. Below, we will discuss the key benefits of PPE in more detail, along with why investing in protective clothing for staff in all hazardous environments should be paramount.

Prevent injury from harmful bacteria and corrosives

If you’re working with chemicals, it is imperative to wear full PPE from goggles to gloves. Harmful and corrosive substances, particularly liquids, can be very dangerous if spilled or leaking occurs; often resulting in splashes which can be life-altering when contact is made with the skin or eyes.

When working in an environment that aims to control harmful bacteria such as a clinical lab or a hospital, PPE acts as a barrier between infectious materials that can cause illness and damage to the skin. In these environments, protective clothing is vital.

Reduce the risk of respiratory illness

Respiratory issues from breathing in smoke, gases or chemicals from contaminated air can be toxic, so respirators are essential to protect your lungs from both long-term and short-term gas-related illnesses.

However, on oil and gas sites, it is important to be fully equipped with eye protection, hearing protection and flame-resistant clothing. If working in oil and gas wells, this can expose workers to hydrogen sulphide, which can cause irritation and difficulty breathing in some asthmatics. One of the worst gases to inhale is crystalline silica, which is a known lung carcinogen that can cause silicosis and can, in the worst cases, be fatal.

Protect your body from extremes of heat and cold

It is imperative to keep workers safe and comfortable, even in uncomfortable and dangerous situations. Protective suits and arc flash clothing from Reece Safety are some great examples of how PPE can keep you safe from extreme heat when welding or using electricals for example, as well as extreme cold such as outdoor or underground maintenance work.

Multiple layers of PPE are to be worn for extreme temperatures, including heat-resistant outerwear for hot environments or thermal layers and wicking material to keep you warm in cold environments.

Preventing injury

Whether it’s falling rocks or slipping, make sure you’re protected with the right footwear and head and body protection when you’re entering a hazardous area.

Boots with good grip and a helmet are examples of much needed essentials to protect yourself from falling and head injuries while on the job; these injuries are some of the most common in the workplace. So be sure to wear your protective clothing until you are no longer in a hazardous area, particularly in more dangerous areas such as working underground, on building sites and in damp environments.

Top tip: Make sure your PPE is cleaned and locked away securely when not in use to avoid issues like cross-contamination or getting clothing mixed up at work, as each person requires differently sized PPE to fit appropriately.

– This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of ECN.

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