Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - What You Need To Know
Did you know employers are legally required to supply workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) in Oz? Specifically, PPE needs to be:
- suitable for the nature of the work
- maintained and hygienic
- properly sized to fit the person.
But what types of PPE are needed for what kinds of environments? While there's lots of government literature out there (that we’ve linked to below) if you want a quick summary of what PPE is required when read below. You might be surprised at what's required!
Types of PPE
High Visibility Garments
The most common PPE associated with tradespeople, labourers and builders! High vis garments are required to be used basically all the time (not just in low light conditions).
If a worker is at a worksite or plant operation, exposed to traffic, water, or are instructed by their supervisor, high vis garments must be worn. Examples include the classic high vis vest, t-shirts, overalls and wet weather clothing.
Head and Hand Gear
For situations where there is any risk of head injury, protective headgear including safety helmets and broad-brimmed hats must be provided.
Glasses, goggles, shields, hoods, helmets and protective gloves should also be considered. Situations where these types of protective items should be worn include when there’s dust, airborne debris, radiation, hazardous substances etc.
Skin & Foot Protection
Skin protection involves everything from high collars and long trousers to UVA/UVB sunscreens and insect repellents.
Enclosed footwear to help with heat and solar radiation can also be required when working in extreme heat environments such as roofing. See our ‘Protective Gear’ category for an idea of protective clothing that can help with everything from heat management to antibacterial.
When there’s a risk workers are going to be exposed to oxygen deficiencies or contaminants it’s incredibly important to consider specialised equipment including air-hose respirators, air-line respirators or self-contained breathing apparatuses.
Noise and Vibration Protection
WHS procedure requires that when continuous noise levels exceed 85dBA and/or impact noise levels approach or exceed 140dBA noise control measures need to be taken including and not limited to ear plugs, ear muffs and noise-occluding helmets.
For vibration protection energy absorbing gloves and liners, footwear and matting may need to be used.
Remember Safety Is Not Just PPE!
Of course, it takes a lot more than clothing and sunscreen to make a worksite safe. Look below for the rules and documentation around worksite safety but ultimately, it will take the employer and employee working together thoughtfully to create true workplace safety.
Whether it’s adding a work light to illuminate a dark area or suggesting a compact cooler fan for extra hot weather conditions, using common sense and communication along with the right equipment will go a long way to creating workplace protection.
Roads and Maritime Services provide a comprehensive document on 'WHS Procedure On PPE'
For up to date information, also visit safework.nsw.gov.au.