Everything you need to know about PPE, mandatory equipment in the workplace
Your employer requires you to wear safety shoes and gloves in the workplace. They talk about "PPE" and the rules that must be followed, but these concepts can be unclear. We explain everything about PPE (personal protective equipment): the regulations that surround it, its usefulness for each part of the body and the dangers it counters.
The ABC's of PPE
Definition and regulations
According to article R.233-83-3 of the French Labor Code, personal protective equipment is a "device or means intended to be worn or held by a person in order to protect him or her against one or more risks likely to threaten his or her safety and health. In addition, Article L. 230-2 states that "the head of the establishment shall take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and protect the physical and mental health of the workers in the establishment, including temporary workers." It should be noted that PPE is normally used as a last resort, i.e., after collective protection measures have been put in place.
Despite the proliferation of regulations concerning the safety of employees at work, none of them clearly defines the PPE to be worn according to the activity performed. It is therefore up to the company to carry out a risk analysis beforehand, in order to determine the risks involved and thus the most suitable equipment for each situation. It is also possible to consult the occupational medicine department to obtain the opinion of occupational health experts.
In addition to having to properly equip its employees, according to article L.230-2, the employer must in particular:
- provide PPE free of charge,
- adapt the equipment to the risks to be prevented and to the work,
- periodically check and maintain the equipment,
- change it as soon as it has passed its use-by date or after deterioration,
- check compatibility with other PPE if the work situation requires the combined use of several pieces of equipment,
- ensure that the equipment is certified as compliant and accompanied by instructions for use.
Even though it is the employer's responsibility to provide PPE to its employees, the latter are also required to respect certain obligations such as
- respecting the conditions of use, storage and maintenance notified in the notice issued by the manufacturer, but also in the instruction defined by the employer,
- report defective or outdated PPE.
Useful at all times, for the whole body
The purpose of personal protective equipment is to protect the entire body, from head to toe. It is intended to protect the user from the risk(s) incurred at the workstation. These may include skin or respiratory exposure to a chemical or biological agent, heat, radiation, noise, crushing, shock, or electrocution.
The different types of personal protective equipment
PPE has been classified into 3 categories, according to the degree of severity of the risk incurred. Category 1 corresponds to superficial mechanical aggressions (or minor risks). This is followed by the intermediate category. And finally, category 3 covers very serious or even fatal risks.
A complete protection
Protecting the upper body
Many jobs are considered "risky" and require special equipment. Whether you are working on a construction site, next to a production line in a factory, in a laboratory or elsewhere, your head, ears and face can be exposed to serious dangers. The following PPE is therefore mandatory depending on the area to be protected:
- the helmet protects the head from falling objects or shocks;
- the earplugs and helmetsheadphones protect the ears from high and potentially dangerous noise levels by blocking continuous and impulsive noise from tools and machines (jackhammer, chainsaw, press, etc.);
- the glasses prevent the projection of debris, dust or chemical products;
- the masks protect the respiratory tract from dust, smoke, gas, steam, fog, aerosols, etc;
- es gloves must comply with certain standards to protect the hands from mechanical, chemical and/or thermal hazards.
Protecting the lower body
The feet are also parts of the body exposed to risks. Thus, some safety shoes (low or high), shoes safety sneakers or boots can be a mandatory PPE item to be worn upon arrival at the workplace. Their protective sole and shell make them ideal for protecting all areas of the foot, regardless of the hazard.
Protecting the rest of the body
Some situations require additional PPE, such as protection from the weather, fire or cold. From clothing (pants and jackets) have been designed for this purpose. In addition, the risks of falling or loss of balance must be countered by equipment such as harnessescarabiners, lanyards, etc.
In search of more and more protection and comfort for users, PPE manufacturers do not hesitate to innovate. Materials such as Teflon, Kevlar, or neoprene are now preferred to the materials initially used. These materials are at the cutting edge of technology and are more lighterlighter, more resistant and more aesthetic. This is our leitmotiv at Ultrabold: to offer you innovative, modern and ultra-resistant safety shoes.