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If you work within the manufacturing industry, or any role that involves heavy machinery, fast-moving parts and potentially hazardous materials, then you’re probably already familiar with personal protective equipment. Sometimes referred to simply as PPE, personal protective equipment refers to any sort of clothing, gear or hardware that is worn while on the job site. Not only is this equipment essential to your immediate health and well-being, but it may even save your life.

With that in mind, the importance of PPE cannot be stressed enough. Even if you’ve never worn such clothing or gear before, pursuing training in the fundamentals of PPE now can ensure that you’re prepared when the time finally comes.

General Usage

Firstly, it’s vital to become familiar with the general types of PPE as well as their common uses in the 21st-century workplace. Hardhats, safety goggles, gloves, boots, ear protection, respirators and even specialized suits all fall under the category of personal protective equipment.

Most of these items have an obvious usage. Gloves, for example, are put on each hand in order to safeguard against hazardous materials or dangerous objects. Other pieces of PPE, including advanced respirators, might not be so obvious. In this case, don’t hesitate to refer to the device’s user manual. Doing so in the beginning could prevent serious injury in the future.

Apart from the general usage of each particular piece of PPE, you’ll also want to know the particular hazards that you are dealing with. Electrical, mechanical and radiological hazards, for example, are all handled with different methods in mind. You’ll also want to keep in mind that certain chemicals or materials may require more stringent precautions than others, so it’s vital that you know exactly what you are working with.

Storage and Maintenance of Equipment

You’ll also want to consider training in the storage and maintenance of personal protective equipment. While you won’t necessarily be in charge of overseeing the long-term storage of such equipment in the workplace, it certainly doesn’t hurt to learn such information. Who knows, it may even set you up for additional responsibilities or a future promotion down the road.

Equipment Disposal

Finally, take some time to research the proper disposal methods of your PPE. Gear that hasn’t come into direct contact with any hazardous materials can be disposed of in the normal manner, including safety glasses, earplugs and hardhats.

On the other hand, personal protective equipment that has been damaged or exposed to harmful material may require specialized handling or disposal. If any piece of your personal protective equipment does come into contact with a hazardous substance or object, notify your safety supervisor immediately.

Standardizing and Embracing PPE

With some of today’s top safety organizations pushing for increased PPE standardization, it’s safe to say that the U.S. government is taking a proactive stance toward employee health and safety in the workplace. As such, taking a little bit of time to learn the ins and outs of personal protective equipment can work wonders when it comes to expanding your industry, maximizing your productivity and strengthening your overall career profile.

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