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What is PPE, personal protective equipment? How does it affect the safety conditions in my work environment?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed to protect workers from getting seriously injured while working. PPEs can be face shields, hard hats or safety glasses. They can also be garments such as gloves, vests, coveralls, earplugs, or devices such as respirators.

Even though PPE requirements will vary depending on the industry and materials each industry handles, both employers and employees are responsible for using PPEs properly. Employers are required to identify workplace hazards and use PPEs, as well as other methods, to reduce hazards. Employers must also train and require workers to use PPEs. Meanwhile, it is the employees’ responsibility to report problems with the equipment to employers.

It is important to know that using a PPE doesn’t eliminate work hazards. It only helps prevent injury due to work hazards. For example, hard hats on a work site are required to help prevent head injuries from falling equipment. Requiring workers to wear hard hats doesn’t eliminate the risk of equipment falling but it can help prevent injuries.

So, employers need to implement methods like using PPEs to help reduce risks of serious injuries in a given work environment. Make sure your work environment is up to standards. This could help prevent you from a life-changing injury.

Here are some of the organizations that published guidelines for standards of care for workers, PPE requirements, and more:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an organization that created standards of care for workers. Besides OSHA’s PPE requirements, the American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI), ASTM International (ASTM), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) also publish standards for the manufacture, testing and use of PPE.

If you know someone with a serious work injury or have questions about workers compensation in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, order one of our free guides on workers compensation or the book, Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers’ Compensation or by calling (202) 393-3320.