There is a whole host of injuries you can get from not wearing PPE, ranging from burns to mesothelioma. PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and covers many products such as safety gloves, trousers, boots, respirators and much more. If you do not wear the correct safety equipment, you will after reading just some of the potential injuries you could receive.
Here are some of the key facts about injuries in the workplace in Great Britain from 2014 to 2015.
- 1.2 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
- 2,515 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2014)
- 144 workers killed at work (2015/16)
- 76,000 other injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
- 611,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey
- 27.3 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
- £14.3 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2013/14)
These facts as you can see are very bad, the amount of people that have had a work related injury that could have been reduced if the correct protection was issued. For instance asbestos exposure is extremely high and wearing the correct RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) could reduce the risk of asbestos fibres from reaching the lungs. This mixed with a disposable overall can prevent the asbestos fibres from transferring onto your clothes and releasing at a late date into your lungs or the lungs of another.
Here are some of the types of protection you can use and what injuries they reduce:
Work trousers as well as other types of clothing can protect from a variety of things such as:
- Water protection
- Chemical protection
- Heavy impacts
- Broken bones
- Damaged muscles
The use of high visibility clothing can help reduce the chance of a moving vehicle hitting you causing many of the injuries listed above, by helping the driver seeing you in dark environments. Did you know in 2004-2005 1782 major vehicle related injuries occurred and they could have been reduced if every one of them was wearing the correct hi-vis clothing?
Injuries that gloves can reduce are:
- Extreme temperatures
- Chemical burns
- Electric shock
- Biological agents
- Prolonged immersion in water
Vibrations can cause serious damage to the feeling in your hands and arms, especially when you are regularly using a power tool such as a jack hammer or drill. There is a condition called VWF or Vibration-induced white finger which can give you symptoms such as: loss of sensation, loss of light touch, loss of grip, bone cysts and pain or cold sensations.
Another serious injury you can receive is a chemical burn, as unlike a normal burn, the chemical slowly seeps into the hand and you receive a cold burn. A cold burn is a burn without heat, this is particularly dangerous as you sometime cannot even see the chemical but feels like a burn from a flame. The only way to stop a chemical burn is to seek medical attention as soon as the chemical touches the stick, alternatively wear chemical burn protection gloves to stop the chemical from hitting the skin.
The use of safety hats has a broad range and depends on the injury you may receive such as some of the following:
- Impact from falling objects
- Risk of head bumping
- Hair getting tangled in machinery
- Chemical drips
- Sun and UV damage
Did you know one person dies of melanoma every hour, this can be a direct cause from extended UV damage to your skin? Imagine if you work outside all year round, remembering to protect your head you could be seriously damaging your skin.
Hard hats have saved many lives since the 1980’s when the UK government increased the legislation for Health and safety ensuring that all employees who work in dangerous environments must wear PPE. It is from that moment that the fatal deaths have reduced but there is still the risk of falling objects, this is why safety helmets are made to reduce the impact and damage tenfold.
Boots are used for many purposes within the PPE market, some of which are:
- Water protection
- hot and cold conditions
- electrostatic build-up
- cuts and punctures
- falling objects
- heavy loads
- metal and chemical splash
Falling objects can cause serious damage such as broken bones, torn ligaments and is some cases amputations. Steel toe cap boots are designed to protect your toes (usually the first place to get hit) from receiving up to 200 joules of pressure, this can reduce the risk and keep your feet and toes safe from falling objects.
Without knowing it you walk over slippery surfaces all the time, however when working in some industries you may be walking over these surfaces all day it become apparent that your risk is greatly increased. Falling over due a slippery service can be incredibly dangerous, from broken bones to cut and lacerations, the list of injuries are endless, this is why wearing non-slip shoes are vital in these environments.
Respirators are designed to help your breath healthy air whilst keeping out harmful dusts, gases and vapours. They are also used in oxygen deficient atmospheres with added oxygen lines to ensure a constant feed of oxygen gets into your body without the dangerous levels of carbon dioxide that is usually found in these environments.
There are many harmful gases that you could come across whilst at work such as carbon monoxide and high levels of carbon dioxide. Whereas harmful particles such as asbestos are harder to see yet can be twice as dangerous, asbestos when broken becomes small particles that are like barbs when inhaled. This intern causes your lungs to be filled with a barb like particle which slowly wear away your lungs and can cause serious damage. People who get asbestosis have symptoms like shortness of breath, persistent cough, wheezing and chest pain.
Glasses and goggles can reduce the risk of injury to your eyes when working in environments where the following may happen:
- Splashes from water and chemicals
- Gas and vapour
Even the smallest amount of a harmful chemical can cause extreme levels of pain and or potential blindness, temporary or permanent. This can be the same for dust and vapours, dependant the particle or gas this can cause immediate damage and prolonged contact can cause life altering effects. Projectiles can be very dangerous and when not wearing the correct protection can cause the projectile to hit your eye with 100% impact causing instant blindness and in some cases even death. Being so close to the brain this is one of the areas you need to protect as well as the head and body.
Noise can be a combination of sound level and duration of that sound level whilst both high level sounds and low level can cause severe damage with even the shortest of duration.
Wearing the correct ear protection can be the difference between having good hearing and being deaf, due to the immediate effect of some sound levels you should always wear your protection when operation loud machinery. Some load machinery such as jack hammers may not seem that load when you first use them however constant use of this can stop your hearing from recovering and cause deafness later in life.