Protection information

What is PPE?

Many business sectors, such as construction sites, pharmaceutical industries, mechanical workshops and food companies, require their employees to wear PPE for safety at work. However, what is personal protective equipment? How are they categorized and how do you choose the appropriate equipment for the occupational risks that differ according to the workplace and the tasks?

PPE: definition

According to the Labor Code, PPE is “any device or appliance designed to be worn by an individual when exposed to one or more health and safety hazards”. This equipment, which is recommended or even compulsory for certain tasks, can take several forms: helmets, protective masks, earplugs, work gloves, safety shoes, harnesses, work clothes, etc. There is a whole range of protective products for the whole body to deal with different types of risks linked to the work environment. PPE thus becomes a real field of protection against threats to the health and safety of its user. It intervenes in risk prevention.

Different categories of PPE

As there are various types of occupational risks, PPE is classified into three categories, depending on the severity of the risk:

Category 1: against low risks and superficial injuries, This may involve slight shocks or vibrations that do not cause any irreversible damage to the body. Work gloves fall into this category of minor risks.

Category 2: against medium risks and severe injuries. On the contrary, these injuries could affect vital parts of the body with and therefore some health damages. This category includes cut protection gloves for example.

Category 3: against serious risks, irreversible injuries and deadly hazards.

These are situations that can lead to death, such as falls from heights during construction work. For example, the safety harness intended to be worn on a scaffold is category 3 PPE.

List of mandatory PPE

When collective protection is no longer sufficient, the employer must provide each of his employees with appropriate PPE against the risks involved in order to guarantee their safety and health at work. These can be:

  • Thermal risks (exposure to very low temperatures in cold rooms, splashing of molten metal, etc.);
  • Chemical risks (inhalation of toxic fumes) ;
  • Electrical hazards (handling live parts) ;
  • Mechanical risks (cuts, falls, splashes into the eye) ;
  • As well as, the risks induced by laser or UV radiation, and noise.

The employer is responsible for assessing the risks beforehand in order to provide the appropriate PPE, in sufficient quantity and according to the wearer’s body type, so that the wearer is safe at his or her workstation and in full ergonomics.

Therefore, the PPE concerns :

  • Head protection : construction site helmets for the head, caps with visors, masks or goggles for eye protection, earplugs for hearing protection and filter cartridge masks for effective respiratory protection in case of risk of inhalation of toxic fumes.
  • Hand protection : protective gloves should be worn if the hands are particularly exposed and protective sleeves can be added for the forearms.
  • Foot protection : safety shoes.
  • Body protection : coveralls. A wide range of multi-norm protective workwear is available today.

Nevertheless, the employer must apply the general principles of prevention by taking all the necessary measures to protect the employee using suitable personal & collective protective equipment.

How do you measure the performance of PPE?

In addition to the information leaflet, the performance of PPE can be verified by its CE marking. Indeed, this corresponds to a standard. European standards define the test conditions and performance requirements for PPE before it is placed on the market. Depending on the results, different levels of performance are attributed to certain PPE. Naturally, these levels must be taken into account when choosing PPE, depending on the risk to which the worker is exposed. However, performance level should not be confused with protection level. Indeed, not all conditions of use in a work situation are necessarily met in the context of a test; performance is not necessarily equivalent to protection time.

LEBON®, your committed manufacturer of personal protective equipment

LEBON® has been designing and manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) since 1973. Specializing in protective gloves, we put our expertise at the service of operators to ensure their safety when facing various risks that may occur in the industrial sector. Certified Oeko-Tex®, Clean PU®, or Dermatest®, we also strive to design our equipment ranges with a CSR approach.

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