Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is important for a variety of reasons, especially in certain work environments and situations where individuals are regularly exposed to potential hazards. As a general term, PPE refers to equipment and/or clothing specifically worn to reduce health and safety risks and help workers avoid hazards or injuries. Examples include hard hats, masks, high-visibility vests, etc.
But just because an employer provides employees with PPE doesn’t mean that it is going to keep them safe. In some cases, workers may even be inadvertently tricked into believing that they are protected when they’re not.
First and foremost, employers may provide equipment that just isn’t going to get the job done. If someone is working around asbestos, for example, they need a mask with a 100 rating, such as an N-100, P-100 or an R-100 mask. But it is much cheaper for an employer to buy dust masks. They may even tell workers to use neck gaiters or bandannas. A worker may put on a dusk mask that would be helpful in a woodshop, believing it keeps them from being harmed by asbestos. But the truth is that the microscopic asbestos particles can just fit through or around the pores in the mask’s surface, and the worker could still suffer long-term harm as a result.
In other cases, the personal protection equipment that is provided just doesn’t fit. It may not be designed for those who are using it. For example, all too often, when women are provided with personal protection equipment, it is not designed for them, but for their male counterparts, and may be ill-fitting. A mask that doesn’t fit is not going to be much more beneficial than the wrong type of mask, so women could face far greater risks than they would if they were given PPE that fit properly.
Why PPE is necessary
Workers must take advantage of using any and all employer-provided safety equipment on the job. Three that are especially important are lumbar support back braces for heavy lifting type work for a worker’s lower back,steeled-toed shoes/boots to protect your feet and toes, and finally, and maybe most importantly, goggles for eye protection.
Workers need to wear all safety equipment given to them to wear at work. For one, it may keep them from getting injured. Secondly, and equally important, sometimes employers will try denying a legitimate injury claim if the injured worker is not wearing safety equipment that could have prevented the injury if it was used. So, if they are hurt even after wearing safety equipment, the employer and their workers’ comp insurance will not be able to deny the claim because the injured worker not wearing proper safety equipment.
Have you been injured?
If you’ve been given personal protection equipment on the job, but you suffered injuries or illness anyway, it could be that that equipment was not up to the task at hand. You must understand all of the legal steps you can take to seek proper workers’ comp benefits since the injury happened while you were on the job. Depending on your circumstances, you may be in a position to seek additional forms of compensation as well.