Protective work wear in the workplace refers to garments, helmets and goggles. They are designed to protect a worker from airborne matter, chemicals, electrical, heat and biohazards. They are worn for health purposes and job-related occupational safety.
Why protective work wear is important in the workplace, is that it provides for the safety and reduces a workers exposure to hazards, when administrative and engineering controls cannot reduce the risks to acceptable levels. The practice of using protective work wear has a hierarchy of control that provides a framework that ranks the type of hazard for risk reduction. The type of hazard, area of body protected and type of accessory or garment categorize protective work wear.
A respirator protects a worker from breathing contaminated air. Respirators are a requirement when a workplace has no adequate ventilation. In the United Kingdom, the Institute of occupational medicine through research programmes has assessed why protective work wear is important in the workplace. The institute has advocated for the availability of masks in retail outlets.
Chemical agents through contaminated surfaces, aerosols, splashes or immersion in the workplace cause skin diseases such as skin cancer or contact dermatitis. Ultra violet, high temperatures and solar radiation can damage skin. Mechanical caused trauma can occur as abrasions, contusions, friction, lacerations and pressure. Parasites, plants, animals and microorganisms can also affect the skin and that is why protective work wear is import in the workplace. Strong rubber gloves that are heat or cut resistant and work coats provide protection.
Eye injuries occur in a workplace when solid particles enter the eye. Blunt force injuries, chemical burns, thermal agents and biological agents also contribute to eye injury. Eye protection with high airflow combined with face shields provides protection from all forms of hazards. For both eye and respiratory protection, a full-face piece is recommended.
Noise levels can cause damage to the ears. Why protective work wear is important to the workplace in the manufacturing sector is to minimize industrial noise. Protective work wear for ears consists of earmuffs and earplugs. Protective headgear prevents head injuries to construction site workers.
Foot injuries occur from lacerations, punctures, sprains, crushing, trips, falls and slips, and that are why protective work wear is important in the workplace. The type of floor in a workplace influences the comfort and safety of workers. A slippery floor can cause accidents resulting to broken foot bones and sprained ankles. Safety boots that are comfortable, with thick soles, steel mid-sole, and a steel toecap provide adequate protection for both men and women.
Regular risk assessments in a workplace are important to determine the nature of any available hazard and the risk involved. Consideration should be given to the worker, the level of movement, the equipment and the nature of the environment. Protective work wear should provide effective protection and be selected according to recognized standards. If a worker wears different protective pieces at once, they should be compatible and effective. Protective work wear must be maintained in good working order at all times.