In this article we will talk about personal protective equipment (PPE) used in chemical plants. Each chemical plant, job or work process may require different personal protective equipments, but we will talk about it in general.
According to OSHA, personal protective equipments are devices designed to protect employees from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, and other workplace hazards. Meanwhile, in terms of hazard control methods, usage of personal protective equipment is the last hazard control.
Before deciding to use a certain PPE, the first thing that we have to do is to identify hazards associated with a particular work or job, assess the risks and then select the most appropriate control method by following hazard control hierarchy. Commonly, PPE will be provided even though other controls have been assessed to be used.
Types of Personal Protective Equipment
Below are typical personal protective equipments that are used in chemical plants. They are classified based on protected organs.
Head protection: protects head from hazards such as impact of falling or flying objects, risk of head bumping against pipe or beam, hair entanglement and risk of contact with exposed electrical wiring or components. Head protection device may come in the form of hard hat or bump cap.
Eye protection: protects the eyes from hazards such as chemical or metal splash, dust, flying particles, corrosive gases or vapors, or radiation. Example of eye protection devices are goggles, safety glasses and laser welding glasses.
Face protection: protects face from dust, splash or spray of hazardous chemicals, flying sparks, metal spatters, and slug chips and so on. Face protection devices include face shield and welding shields.
Hearing protection: protects ears from high level noise hazard. Hearing protection devices include ear plugs, ear muffs and canal caps.
Hand and arm protections: protect hand and arm from hazards such chemicals, electric shock, skin irritation, skin burn, extreme temperature, abrasion, cuts and fractures. Hand and arm protection apparatuses include hand gloves, gauntlets, armlets, mitts and so on.
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Foot and led protections: protect foot and leg from hazards of slips, falling object, hazardous chemicals, abrasion, hot and wet surface, sharp object, etc. Foot and leg protectors are safety shoes, safety boots, gaiters, leggings, etc.
Respiratory protection: mainly protects users’ respiratory system from harmful materials, which may enter the body through inhalation, and as well as oxygen deficiency. Respiratory protection types include Air Purifying Respirator (APR), Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).
Body protection: body protection apparatus are vests, aprons, full body suits, disposable overalls, boiler suits, specialist protective clothing and jackets.