Personal protective equipment, or PPE, and tough work wear is a requirement in a huge amount of different industries – the problem is that many people in these jobs are so focused on the work in hand that they fail to protect themselves and those who work for them by providing them with the right equipment for the job. However, whatever work you do, it’s important to think not just about your legal obligations for providing protective clothing and accessories, but also your moral, social and safety obligations to those who you employ – or to yourself if you don’t have someone else to look out for you.
Some industries that require PPE are obvious; you wouldn’t expect a firefighter to enter a burning building without the correct protective clothing and breathing apparatus – but there are other less obvious roles that require tough work clothes or protective equipment too. Take a motor mechanic for example; they are coming into contact with harsh chemicals, sharp objects and heavy machinery on a frequent basis – so what types of PPE and clothing should they be considering? Obviously, overalls are always are essential to keep oil and petrol stains at bay, but there are more important items too. Steel toe capped boots, face masks, hardhats and protective gloves should all be a standard feature in the mechanics wardrobe and equipment cupboard – even if these things aren’t needed all the time, they should be easy to access when necessary.
Tough work wear such as overalls, tabards, protective jackets, gloves, safety footwear and face masks may also be required for those working in chemistry, in healthcare establishments, as archaeologists, environmental scientists, nurses, vets and zookeepers – not necessarily vocations that you would expect to have a requirement for PPE, but ones that certainly would require one or more forms of protective clothing or accessories in certain circumstances. Carpentry is another example, as are farm-based jobs, electricians, pilots, policemen and engineers.
Other jobs that require PPE or some kind of protective clothing include those working in catering, butchers and construction; even professional car and motorcycle racers must be fully kitted out with helmets, leather suits, gloves and boots while practising or competing. Even cricketers are often required to wear protective equipment around their more vulnerable areas and look at American footballers – they don’t lug all of that extra weight around for fun!
While many people won’t ever work in many of these environments, it’s important to highlight how important it is to consider exactly what kinds of protective work wear and equipment may be required, because it’s not always obvious. Remember that if you’re an employer in any of these industries, it’s your legal responsibility to ensure that your staff are protected; conversely, if you’re engaged in any of these careers or activities on a contractual or freelance basis, make sure that you’ve got the necessary tough work wear that will protect you from any potential spills or accidents and that you buy good quality PPE to keep you safe and sound.