Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the term that refers to protective clothing like goggles or helmets to save an individual from any injury. This injury could result from electric hazards, chemicals, and blunt objects. Other hazards that occur in the workplace are flying sparks, sharp edges. The PPE reduces the employee’s exposure to hazards while carrying out their duties. The employers are required to determine the PPE that the workers need. The organizations that use PPE are required to implement PPE programs within their structures. The program has such elements as addressing all the hazards that are present at the workplace. It also entails the selection and maintenance of the PPE. The other elements within the PPE program are training the employees on how to use the PPE and monitoring the effectiveness of the entire program.
There are numerous petrochemical and heavy industries in the UAE. The working conditions in these organizations present many hazards to the employees. The industries are required by law to put into place the protective practices that will keep the workers from harm. The work practice controls are meant to control a hazard right at its source. These, however, are not sufficient to stop all the hazards that occur at the workplace. This thus calls for the use of PPE. The employers are also supposed to ensure that the employees use the PPE. The different types of PPE in these industries include gloves, foot protection, eye protection, earplugs and muffs, full body suits and respirators. The determination of their use within any given organization depends on the hazard assessment carried out.
As stated above, this is the initial step towards implementing the PPE program at the work place. It involves identifying the health hazards and the physical hazards that exist at the work place. The identification of the hazards considers the potential hazards in both categories. The physical hazards include such hazards as the fluctuating temperatures, moving objects, rolling objects and poking objects. Other hazards in this category are sharp edges and electrical connections within the work place. Health hazards, on the other hand, include overexposure to radiation, chemicals or dust.
Within the UAE petrochemical and heavy industries, a walk through survey of the facilities is done to come up with potential hazards. The basic hazard categories here are impact, compression or rollover and penetration categories. Others are heat/cold category, harmful dust, and light radiation, chemical and biologic categories. These are the basic layout points of the facility analysis. Other things that must be considered in the walk through surveys include determining the sources of electricity within the entity. The sources of motion like processes and machines, where movement may exist, are also surveyed. This is especially because it could result into the impact between the equipment and personnel. Other things looked at during the walk through survey are the sources of light radiation like welding and brazing lights. Furnaces, high intensity lights, and cutting furnaces are considered in the walk through survey. Sources of harmful dusts within the entities are also looked into. The existences of sharp objects that can poke or pierce puncture or cut are also considered in the survey. Blood infecting materials and other biologically infecting materials are looked at.
The data collected is then organized and analyzed to determine the PPE that is required within each organization. It is notable that in many of the industries the employers go for the PPE that is higher than the minimum required. This ensures that the maximum protection of the employees is looked into. They also ensure that they periodically reassess the working conditions and operating procedures. This helps the employers to know and recess any occupational hazards that could have arisen in the work place. The reassessment normally involves reviewing the injuries and the illnesses that have been reported in the work place. The condition and age of the existing PPE should also be considered in the same process. The assessment is then documented to help in the identification of the evaluated workplace, person conducting the PPE, date and document certification.
The selection of PPE is the next step after the completion of the assessment. The selection is largely based on the report from the assessment. The requirement is that all the PPE apparatus and clothing should be of safe construction. They should also be of safe design, be reliable and clean. The selection process also calls for employers to consider the comfort and fit of the employees. This is because well fitting, and comfortable PPE serves to encourage employees to wear the PPE. The PPE come in different volumes and fits in the market. The employers should always ensure that they choose the right fits for the employees. The PPE worn together should also be compatible to ensure that the employees feel comfortable. The PPE must thus meet the safety standards set among the UAE companies. These include the measures provided for eye and face protection, head protection, and foot protection.
The employers within the UAE companies also have a mandate to train employees on the need of the PPE. This mainly includes teaching them what and when PPE is necessary. The employer must also teach the employees on how to use the PPE properly. They are also taught how to switch off the PPE. The employer must also teach the employees the limitations that exist when one is using the PPE. It is also of utmost importance that the employees are trained on the proper care, maintenance, and disposal of the PPE. The regulations dictate that the employer must ensure that each worker demonstrates that he/she understands the training concerning the PPE. If proper understanding among the employees is not evident, the employer must ensure that the employees are trained about the PPE. Any time an employee changes location in the workplace, the employer should retrain them, especially when the previous training is made obsolete by the relocations. The employer is further supposed to ensure that the training of each employee is documented. This should include the date of training and identification of the subject.
Eye protection as well as face protection is also required in the UAE petrochemicals and heavy industries. In these industries employees are exposed to many hazards that can adversely affect their eyes and faces. The hazards in this category include flying particles at the workplace, liquid chemicals, caustic liquids, molten metal, vapors, and chemical gases. Light radiation is also a substantial hazard in this category. Eye injuries tend to occur in the workplaces when workers have no protection for their eyes. It also occurs when they wear poorly fitting or improper eye protection. The employers are thus required to ensure that the eye and face protection worn by workers is appropriate. The equipment within this category includes prescription lenses. It is, however, notable that the lenses do not provide the appropriate protection in the workers occupations. The employees wearing them should wear additional protection over the lenses. This additional cover should not disturb the position of the lenses in order not to affect the sight of the employee. There are types of works like welding, and chemical processes that require the use of eye protection. The other jobs within other categories determine such a need through hazard assessment.
Failure to wear the eye gear has previously resulted into dirt, dust, or chemicals entering into the eyes of the employees. This has been through such activities as grinding, hammering or even as a result of a strong wind. Other causes of eye injuries include chemical splashes from hazardous solutions. The solutions include chemicals, solvents, and corrosive substances. Radiant energy also gets in the eyes of the employees causing extremely adverse situations to them. This energy many times comes from harmful rays and radiant lights.
The employers should consider various factors when choosing the workplace hazards. These include the ability of the eye protection device to save the eye from hazards as detected in the assessment. They should fit the workers properly, and they should be comfortable to wear. The devices should also be cleanable and durable. The eye protection chosen should also allow the functioning of other PPE unrestrictedly. The devices should also clearly identify the manufacturers so that in case of faulty pieces the manufacturer is held accountable. The shared protective eyewear should be disinfected to ensure infections do not pass from one employee to another.
The employer can choose from safety spectacles, which contain impact lenses, and safety frames that are metallic in nature or sometimes plastic. Some models also have side shields. Other eye protective devices are goggles that are tight fitting, protective devices. They cover the eyes completely. The coverage offered by these devices is to the eye sockets, and the facial areas that are around the eye. They protect the user’s eyes form dangers that come from impact, splashes, and dust. Welding shield, on the other hand, is vulcanized fiber that is fitted with filtered lenses. It serves to protect the employee’s eyes from burns that are caused by intense, radiant light. It also protects the eyes form any flying sparks and metal spatter and chips that fly during welding. The law requires that the glasses should have a shade number that is appropriate to protect against some hazards. The shade thus depends on the intensity of the rays that are produced while doing the job.
The other eye protective devices are laser safety goggles that protect the eyes of employees from intense concentrations of laser-produced light. Face shields also fall within this category of PPE. They are normally sheets of plastic that are elastic in nature. They extend from the eyebrow down to the employees chin and then right across the entire width of the head. It is also notable that some of the face shields are polarized. The device serves to protect the employee against sprays of harmful liquids. In many instances, the face shields are used with other eye protective devices like goggles and safety spectacles.
This is especially essential in the heavy industries in the UAE. It is geared towards protecting employees from injuries at the work place. Much emphasis is paid to head protection because some head accidents experienced before have been fatal and have impaired the employees for life. The common PPE used are safety helmets and hard hats. They protect the employees from impact, penetration hazards, electric shock, and burns.
The employer needs to always ensure that workers have a head protection in the instances where there is a hazard of things falling from above exists. They must also wear head protection when there is the hazard of bumping their heads against fixed objects like beams. This is also the case in instances where employees can get accidental head contacts with electric hazards. In cases where conveyor belts are utilized the head protection must be used.
An employer should always consider the quality of the head protection that he gets for the employees. These include the fact that the headgear should resist penetration by objects. It should also be shock absorbent in the case of blows and burn slowly; be resistant to water. The helmets should also have instructions that are clear explaining how the headgear is dusted and how the headband is replaced. The hard hats should always have an outer shells that are extremely hard and linings that are shock absorbent. They must also incorporate straps and headbands that are suspended from the main shell.
Employees can choose from many types of hard hats. The employer must be clear of all the potential hazards that exist in the workplace before making the choice of the headgear to purchase for the employees. There are three classes of head protection available. These include class A hard hats, which provide penetration, impact resistance and limited voltage protection. The voltage protection in this category of hats is only up to 2200 volts. Class B hats provide protection against electric hazards. This category offers the highest level of voltage protection. It offers high voltage shock and protection from burns up to a level of 20,000 volts. This class also protects the workers from impact and from penetration that might occur from flying objects. The class C hard hats, on the other hand, provide lightweight comfort and offer impact protection. They, however, do not offer any protection from electrical hazards.
The employers always check inside of the hat for the manufactures and the class of the hat. This is done to ensure that they get the most appropriate hats for their work forces. The headgear must never be too small or too large for the employees. They must fit appropriately to ensure that they are efficient for the use by employees. The employers also ensure that the hats they get for the employees do no bind, fall off, slide, or aggravate the skin of the users. The headgear in some instances should allow the use of other accessories especially where there are environmental changes within the industries. Such headgear should have slots for earmuffs, face shields, mounted glasses, and mounted lights. Some have brims that protect from the sun while others have channels that drive rainwater off. There are further requirements that the headgear should be checked on a daily basis for any faults such as cracks. Paints can also eliminate the hat’s electrical resistance and thus the head protection should be checked constantly to ensure it is in order.
Falling or rolling objects could cause leg injuries in the work places. Cracking and penetrating materials also cause leg injuries. Other injuries could result from hot substances, corrosive and poisonous substances. Non-conductive footwear should also be worn in places where electrical hazards exist.
It is necessary for an employee to wear aa protective footwear in industries, where heavy objects might roll onto the feet of the workers. This is also the case in situations, where people work with sharp objects. The objects described include spikes and nails that could end up piercing the soles of normal shoes. Molten metal that could splash onto the feet of the employees should also alert the workers to wear protective material on their feet. Slippery surfaces, wet surfaces, or hot surfaces should also call the workers to wear protective clothing. They should wear leggings, which protect the lower legs from heat and such things as molten metals. Metatarsal guards are also used as PPE on the feet of the workers. These shield the instep area from compression and collision hazards. The guards are made from aluminum, steel or plastic. Others include safety shoes that have impact resistant toes and soles that are heat resistant. They serve to protect the feet from hot surfaces. The hot working surfaces are common in hot metal, roofing, and paving industries. The shoes protect the users against puncture wounds. Other safety shoes are electricity conductive, so that static electricity does not build up. Others are nonconductive to protect workers from occupational electrical hazards. The particular purpose shoes used in the workplaces include electricity conductive shoes.
In some industries, the hazard assessment reveals that the employees need to use PPE for their hands. The hazards in these cases include absorption of harmful substances by the skin. Other hazards are chemical and thermal burns. Abrasions, cuts, amputations, and fractures are also hazards that could occur to the arms. The protecting equipment in these cases includes finger guards, gloves, and coverings.
Protective gloves come in many types of hazards that the hands of employees are exposed to. The nature of hazard, therefore, largely determines the gloves selected for a particular job. It is notable that the gloves that are designed against one hazard may not work against another hazard. The type of chemicals that is handled by the workers determines the gloves selected in the UAE industries. The nature of contact that the employees have with the chemicals also matters. Duration of contact and the area of hand in contact with the chemicals also matter. Thermal protection and grip requirement when handing the chemical also matters. The size and comfort of gloves also determines their choice, as well as the material, which is used to make the PPE gloves. Some gloves are made of fabric or coated with fabric. Others are made of metal mesh, leather, or canvas. The other main materials are insulating rubber gloves and others are chemical and liquid resistant in nature.
Leather, canvas, and metal mesh gloves protect workers from burns and cuts. They also protect against any sustained heat. Fabric and coated fabric gloves are mainly made from cotton. They offer protection from dirt, chaffing, and abrasions. Chemical and liquid resistant gloves are made with rubber neoprene, fluorocarbon, and other plastics. They usually offer resistance to chemicals. They are not made very thick as this impairs the grip and it is not safe.
Other forms of protection include body protection against several hazards. These comprise temperature extremes, hot splashes, and hazardous chemicals. The clothing is inspected carefully before being used in the industries. Other protection used is hearing protection to avoid exposing employees to excessive noise. The factors that determine the use of hearing protection include the loudness of noise and the duration of each employee’s exposure to noise. The devices that are used in this category include single earplugs that are made of cotton and fiberglass wool. They also contain silicon rubber. Another type is the molded earplugs, which are fitted individually for each employee by a professional. They come in disposable and reusable types. Earmuffs also fall in this category, and they require to be perfectly sealed around the ear of the employee. Any disruption to the perfect fit affects the effectiveness of gadgets and exposes the users to harm.