PPE can be categorized by the part of the body it protects, the type of hazard it protects from, and the type of garment or accessory. Designed to protect from head to toe, different body protection equipment can include:
- Skin protection: This is any type of barrier between the hazard and the worker’s skin. Common forms of skin protection are safety gloves, lab coats, shields for the face and neck, arc-rated body suits, balaclavas, and much more.
- Eye protection: Safety glasses, googles, and face shields are all appropriate forms of equipment to protect the worker’s eyes from extreme levels of light, heat, radiation, etc.
- Respirators: These provide clean, contaminant-free air for breathing. The two most commonly used are gas masks and self-contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA.
- Hearing protection: Ear muffs and ear plugs are both forms of PPE that work to protect against auditory hazards. Hearing protection is often overlooked, but industrial workplaces can have high levels of noise that is damaging to hearing.
- Foot protection: An average work boot may not be suitable for all job sites. When it comes to protecting worker’s feet, steel-toed boots can protect toes from falling objects or leather footwear can protect from fire or arc flash.
PPE can also be categorized by the hazards it protects from. These different options include:
- Arc-rated clothing: Including gloves, work shirts, pants, coveralls, etc. are specifically designed to be fire resistant and protect from arc hazards.
- Personal fall arrest systems: These systems are usually comprised of a full body harness, a shock absorbing lanyard, and an anchorage attachment and are there to “catch” the worker before they hit the ground.
- Hi-vis clothing: High-visibility clothing provide a different type of protection for the worker. Instead of adding a protective layer between the worker and the hazard, hi-vis clothing like safety vests alert drivers or forklift operators of their presence immediately.