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Safety Moment #65: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

May 6, 2020

PPE process safety management

We are writing a series of posts to do with the ‘New Normal’ and the effect of the current pandemic on industrial safety, particularly process safety. (We also have a series for people of faith and the New Normal. This week’s post is The Parable of the Green Car.)

This week we will take a break from that discouraging topic and publish another Safety Moment. You will recall that these Safety Moments can be used for those situations where you may be called upon to start a meeting with a few words to do with safety. The first 52 Safety Moments (one for each week) were collected and are available as an ebook. We are working on a follow-up ebook, 52 More Process Safety Moments. These are temporarily available at no cost here. The most recent of these are,

This week I would like to look at an important safety topic, one that is currently in the headlines, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

PPE is the last line of defense for keeping a person safe. Every effort should be made to protect the wearer ahead of time. (We see a simple example of this approach today when we visit a doctor’s office; before entering the office they check our body temperature. If the temperature is too high then the patient is denied entry, regardless of the PPE that everyone is wearing.)

The Irish Health & Safety Authority provides the following precautionary statements with regard to PPE.

  • PPE only protects the wearer.
  • It is ineffective if not working or fitted properly.
  • Theoretical levels of protection are seldom reached in practice.
  • The use of PPE always restricts the wearer to some degree.
  • The psychological effect of PPE may be such that the individual wearing the PPE feels more protected than he or she actually is.
  • In Europe the PPE should carry the ‘CE’ mark.

It is generally the responsibility of the employer to provide, maintain and repair the PPE that workers need. In the United States, for example, OSHA’s 29 CFR 1926.95 OSHA states,

. . . the protective equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE), used to comply with this part, shall be provided by the employer at no cost to employees.


Further information to do with PPE can be found in the book Plant Design and Operations.

Book Plant Design and Operations

The following is an extract from Chapter 14 of that book.


Standard PPE typically includes:

  • Hard hat.
  • Full cover shoes. They should have non-slip soles. Many companies require that shoes always have toe protection — often in the form of a steel toecap.
  • Safety glasses with side shields.
  • High visibility clothing that may also be fire resistant in areas where flammable materials are being handled.
  • Life jackets when working around ships or on docks.

Gloves and hearing protection should be readily available, even if they are not used all the time.

The second type of PPE is situation-specific. For example, if a worker is catching a sample of a hazardous chemical he or she must wear protective gloves that are resistant to that particular chemical.

There are many regulations and standards to do with PPE. Some of them are listed in Table 14.1 of the book, the first page of which is shown below.

PPE for process safety management PSM

From → PPE, Uncategorized

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