At work, you may be required to perform certain tasks that could cause personal injury, such as in an industrial or construction setting. Your employer is responsible for providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to perform these tasks if they are required of you. However, at home, we must take responsibility for having our own personal protective equipment. We need PPE that fits properly, is suitable for the conditions of the job, and offers the right level of protection. In order for it to be used, PPE must be easy to find and easy to access. PPE will not protect you from all foreseeable hazards, but it may help you reduce the risk of injury.
Basic Personal Protective Equipment
Eye Protection – Safety glasses, goggles, face shield to be worn when handling household cleaning products, pool chemicals, and when working in areas where particles might fall into the eyes.
Head Protection – Hard hat to be worn anytime there is a risk of items falling from overhead such as decluttering attics, upper cabinets and while doing yard work such as cutting tree branches.
Hair Protection – Hair elastics or baseball cap to keep long hair from being tangled in machinery and away from flames or chemicals.
Respiratory Protection – Dust masks or respirators to be worn anywhere dust, mould spores, and germs are airborne.
Hand Protection – A variety of gloves in different materials including:
- Dish-type gloves for protection from prolonged contact with harsh soaps, detergents, basic household chemicals
- Disposable gloves for protection from germs and household chemicals.
- Cut resistant gloves for protection when working with knives and sharp blades, scrap metal
- Leather gloves for protection from dirt, debris
Foot Protection – Shoes/Boots with protective toecaps, reinforced shank and non-slip sole to be worn when there is a risk of falling objects, cutting or punctures to the feet.
Clothing Protection – Overalls, aprons or disposable coveralls to be worn when there is risk of damage or contamination to clothing.
Storage and Maintenance
PPE must be properly looked after and stored when not in use, in a dry, clean location. If it is reusable (e.g. goggles, hard hat) it must be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions and kept in good condition. If it is disposable (e.g. dust masks, earplugs) it should be discarded immediately after use.
Store your PPE where you use it. You may wish to have several locations to store your PPE. You can have an apron, gloves, goggles and hair elastics where you store your cleaning products such as your laundry room or kitchen. Goggles can be wrapped in a soft cloth or put in an old sock to keep them from getting scratched. Reusable gloves should be allowed to dry before being stored in a bin. Aprons may require washing before being stored and can be hung on a simple hook.
Many types of disposable gloves come in cardboard boxes. If these boxes are stored in a cupboard under a sink, they can accidentally get wet if the sink leaks. Store the gloves in another location or place the box in a zipper-seal bag.
PPE can be stored in your garage or workshop. Earmuffs and hard hats can be hung on hooks in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. Disposable earplugs, hair elastics, disposable gloves and dust masks need to be stored in dust-proof containers. Plastic zipper-seal bags or small plastic bins work well.
Leather and other non-disposable gloves should be cleaned after use and allowed to dry before being stored away. A simple mitten-boot dryer hanging from the wall or on the workbench is ideal to store these essential safety items yet still have them available when they are needed.
Check your PPE regularly for signs of wear and tear. Replace broken and worn items and restock disposable items regularly.
If you have younger children, purchase smaller-sized PPE for them and place it in a specially labelled container. They are never too young to start learning how to protect themselves from injury.