Protective Clothing and Personal Protective Equipment
Engineering controls, which eliminate the hazard at the source and do not rely on the worker’s behavior for their effectiveness, offer the best and most reliable means of safeguarding. Make engineering controls your first choice to eliminating machine hazards. But whenever engineering controls are not available or are not fully capable of protecting the employee, ensure that protective clothing or personal protective equipment is worn.
For adequate protection, the clothing and equipment selected must always be:
§ Appropriate for the particular hazards;
§ Maintained in good condition;
§ Properly stored when not in use, to prevent damage or loss; and
§ Kept clean, fully functional, and sanitary.
Protective clothing is, of course, available for different parts of the body. Hard hats can protect the head from the impact of bumps and falling objects when the worker is handling stock; caps and hair nets can help keep the worker’s hair from being caught in machinery. If machine coolants could splash or particles could fly into the operator’s eyes or face, then face shields, safety goggles, glasses, or similar kinds of protection might be necessary.
Hearing protection may be needed when workers operate noisy machines. To guard the trunk of the body from cuts or impacts from heavy or rough-edged stock, there are certain protective coveralls, jackets, vests, aprons, and full-body suits. Workers can protect their hands and arms from the same kinds of injury with special sleeves and gloves. Safety shoes and boots, or other acceptable foot guards, can shield the feet against injury in case the worker needs to handle heavy stock which might drop.
It is important to note that protective clothing and equipment can create additional hazards. A protective glove can be caught in rotating parts, or a respirator facepiece may hinder the wearer’s vision. For these reasons, selecting the appropriate equipment is essential.
Other parts of the worker’s clothing may present additional safety hazards. For example, loose-fitting shirts may get entangled in rotating spindles or other kinds of moving machinery. Jewelry, such as bracelets and rings, or a belt buckle could catch on machine parts or stock and lead to serious injury by pulling a hand or the body into the danger area.
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