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Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an important means of preventing work injuries. Ideally, the best
approach is to maintain a safe work environment and eliminate any potential hazards. PPE should only be relied
upon as a last line of defence in places where it is not practicable to control the hazards at source. The use of
PPE generally implies working in a potentially hazardous work environment and its use is a major means of injury
prevention. Therefore, it is of prime importance to ensure that the equipment chosen is both reliable and
effective, it is being properly used and maintained, and the user has undergone adequate training. The aim of this
report is to raise the awareness of occupational safety and health practices and the proper use of PPE of people
from all walks of life.

Key Points on the Proper Use of Personal Protective Equipment

Proper selection
You must first understand the nature and degree of the potential hazards, and then select appropriate PPE that
meets the relevant standards. Furthermore, some PPE (such as breathing apparatus) must properly fit the
physique of the user before they can be effective. PPE must meet the demands of the work environment and
should be as comfortable and easy to use as possible

Selection of the right type of PPE requires consideration of the following factors:
i) Nature and severity of the hazard,
ii) Type of contaminant, its concentration and location of contaminated area with respect to the source of
respirable air, expected activity of workman and duration of work,
iii) Comfort of workman when using PPE,
iv) Operating characteristics and limitations of PPE,
v) Ease of maintenance and cleaning, and
vi)Conformity to Indian/International standards and availability of test certificate.
Proper Use of PPE
You must fully understand and abide by the correct usage methods of the PPE. Examples of incorrect use
include different brands of filter being fitted to a respirator or the filters being cleaned with water. Having selected
the proper type of PPE, it is essential that the workman wears it. Often the workman avoids using PPE.
The following factors influence the solution to this problem:

i) The extent to which the workman understands the necessity of using PPE,
ii) The ease and comfort with which PPE can be worn with least interference in normal work procedures, and
iii) The available economic, social and disciplinary sanctions which can be used to influence the attitude of the
The best solution to this problem is to make wearing of PPE mandatory for every employee. At other
places, education and supervision need to be intensified. When a group of workmen are issued PPE for the first
time, clear and reasonable instructions shall be given to them as to why PPE must be worn.
Correct maintenance
PPE should be cleaned and dried after use, properly stored and regularly inspected. If you
discover any damage to the PPE, you should immediately report this to your supervisor so that it can be
replaced. Equipment is well looked after and properly stored when it is not being used, e.g. in a dry, clean
cupboard, or for smaller items in a box or case;

Equipment is kept clean and in good repair follow the manufacturers maintenance schedule (including
recommended replacement periods and shelf lives);

Simple maintenance can be carried out by the trained wearer, but more intricate repairs should only be
done by specialists; replacement parts match the original, e.g. respirator filters;

Employees make proper use of PPE and report its loss or destruction or any fault in it.

Make sure suitable replacement PPE is always readily available. It may be useful to have a supply of
disposable PPE, e.g. for visitors who need protective clothing.

Categories of PPE
Depending upon the nature of hazard, the PPE is broadly divided into the following two categories:
(i)Non-respiratory: those used for protection against injury from outside the body, i.e. for protecting the head, eye,
face, hand, arm, foot, leg and other body parts, and
(ii) Respiratory: those used for protection from harm due to inhalation of contaminated air


Head Protection (IS 2925 specification for industrial safety helmets)

Safety helmets are hard hats or headgear of varying materials designed to protect the workmans head,
not only from impact but from flying particles and electric shock or any combination of the three. These
also protect the scalp, face and neck from overhead spills of acid, other chemicals, hot liquid and also,
shield their hair from entanglement in machinery, or exposure to irritating dust. Some of the hard hats
are even provided with welding mask or face screen.

Safety helmets require proper maintenance. You must not:

The above referred types of helmets have been further broken down into four classes:
Class A - Limited voltage resistance for general services.
Class B - High voltage resistance.
Class C - No voltage protection (metallic helmets).
Class D - Limited protection for fire fighting.

Key points
The key points to note for head protection are:
(a) Use an adjustable chinstrap, if fitted, to make sure the helmet does not fall off.
(b) Clean the inside of the helmet and clean or replace sweatbands regularly.
(c) Check regularly that any damage to the outside is no more than shallow scratches or grazes and that the
internal harness is not damaged or deformed.
(d) Throw head protection away after significant impact by a fixed or falling object. Head protection is unfit for use
if the outside is deeply scratched, worn or deformed, the harness is damaged or deformed or it is beyond its
usable protective life.( As a general guide, industrial safety helmets should be replaced three years after
manufacture, but always check with the manufacturer.)
(e) Wear the helmet so that the brim is level when the head is upright. Do not wear it sloping up or down as this
may significantly reduce the protection it can provide.
(f) Do not wear head protection back to front it will not protect you if you do.
(g) Do not customise head protection, eg make your own ventilation holes, paint, and mark or put stickers on it.
(h) Do not wear a baseball style bump cap where there is a risk of falling objects wear an industrial safety
helmet instead.

Care of Helmets
Before every use, helmets should be inspected for cracks, dents or any rough treatment. Once damaged, the
helmet should be discarded. Particular attention should be paid to the condition of the suspension because of the
important part it plays in absorbing the shock of a blow. Look for loose or torn cradle straps, broken sewing lines,
loose rivets, defective lugs and other defects. The sweatband and cradle inside the hat should be easily
detachable to allow for cleansing and replacement. Cleansing should be done at least once a month by washing
in warm soapy water or any other detergent and then rinsing it thoroughly. Helmets should not be carried on the
rear window of a vehicle, as it may become a hazardous missile in case of an accident or an emergency halt.
Some organisations issue helmets of different colours for identification of different working crews, e.g. safety staff
may be issued green colour helmets.


The main types of eye and face protection are:
Safety glasses- Suitable for protection from particles, flying chips and the impact of fragments.

Goggles These are made with a flexible plastic frame and one or two lenses
with a flexible elastic headband. They give the eyes protection from all angles as the complete rim is in contact
with the face. Some goggles are ventilated and may be unsuitable for protection against gases and fine dusts.

Face shields These have one large lens with a frame and adjustable head harness or are mounted on a
helmet. Most can be worn with prescription glasses. They protect the face but do not fully enclose the eyes.

Key points
The key points to note for eye and face protection are:
(a)Make sure the eye/face protection fits the user and does not fall off easily. It should be issued on a personal
(b) Consider misting/fogging. Ventilated eye protection is available.
(c) Store eye protection in a protective case.
(d) Follow the manufacturers instructions on cleaning, not forgetting headbands and frames. Use only cleaning
and antistatic fluids and cloths recommended by the manufacturer.
(e) Do not use when visibility is noticeably reduced (e.g. the lenses are deeply scratched or worn) or the frame,
headband or harness is deformed. Throw them away and replace them.

Care of Eye and Face Protection Equipment

Goggles should be kept clean. Lenses should be wiped with a clean and soft cloth.
Goggles should be sterilised frequently.
Goggles should not be borrowed or lent unless they have been cleaned and sterilised.

Goggles should be kept in a clean case, and not carried loose in the pocket.
Goggles should be kept in proper condition. Pitted lenses should be replaced before they cause eye
Elastic or fabric headband of goggles should not be stretched. Avoid hanging of goggles on a nail as it
will result in stretching of headband.
Oil, grease, acids, or solvents should be removed from eyecups, leather, rubber or metal parts of
goggles. Oil and grease deteriorate rubber parts and reduce life of headbands. Headbands should be
occasionally washed with warm soap solution followed by thorough rinsing.
Goggles should not be dried by exposing to excessive heat.

Hearing Protection
Working under prolonged exposure to high levels of noise can lead to hearing loss.
Intermittent exposure to high noise levels can lead to irritability, a reduced ability to concentrate, hearing damage
and can even lead to accidents. Once hearing is damaged, it cannot be restored so we must protect our hearing.
Hearing protection is required when noise levels are at or exceed 85 decibels on an A scale (dBA).

Types of protection
There are two main types of hearing protection:
(a) Earplugs These fit into or cover the ear canal, to form a seal. They sometimes have a cord or
neckband to prevent them being lost. They can be permanent (indefinite use), reusable (use only a few
times) or disposable (use once).

When compressed and inserted into the ear cavity, they expand to completely fill the ear cavity.
(b) Earmuffs These are normally hard plastic cups, which fit over and surround the ears. They are sealed
to the head by cushion seals (filled with plastic foam or a viscous liquid). The inner surfaces of the cups
are covered with a sound absorbing material, usually soft plastic foam. They can be headband or helmet
mounted and some can have communication equipment built into them.

Ear muffs offer a high level of sound reduction and are suitable for high noise levels. They can be used in
combination with a safety helmet.

Frequency (Hz)







The acceptable minimum sound attenuation for each of the single test frequencies contained in Group B is as
Test Frequency(Hz)

Sound Attenuation(minimum)


The air quality of the work environment has a direct influence on the safety and health of employees. Ideal
protective measures are to control any source of pollution and reduce the amount of pollutants entering the air
supply. If circumstances do not allow such measures to be immediately taken, the best strategy is to ensure
proper selection and use of appropriate respirators.

Common kinds of air pollution

If you encounter the following hazardous situations, you may require the protection of an appropriate respirator:
(1) Inadequate oxygen supply in the air (less than 19% oxygen)
(2) Presence of toxic gases Including gases (such as hydrogen sulphide) and volatile substances (such as
(3) Harmful particles including noxious dust (such as marble, chalk etc.), pneumoconiosis causing dust particles
(such as silica and asbestos) and toxic particles (such as lead dust and acid mist)
(4) Any combination of the above

Different types of respirators

There are basically three kinds of respirators for protection from the above-mentioned hazards:

(1)Dust respirators (Filter Type Particulate Respirators. (IS: 9473-1980))

(2) Cartridge or canister (Chemical Cartridge Respirators(IS: 8522- 1977))

(3) Breathing apparatus (Self-contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) Open circuit type. IS: 10245
(Part 2)- 1982)

Essential points to consider before using a respirator:

1. Selection of appropriate respirators according to the results of risk assessment, and provision of training and
information in the proper use and care of the respirators.
2. Medical examinations should be carried out to screen which employees are suitable to carry out certain tasks
that need wearing the respirators.
3. Inspection of the respirators should be carried out before work is commenced to ascertain whether there are
any damages to the respirators and whether they are suitable for the existing work environment.
4. Checking whether the cartridge or canister works effectively.
5. Carrying out a proper fit test to ensure the respirator fits tightly against the face.

Special Precautions for Respiratory PPE

Right type of respiratory PPE should be used, as particulate filter respirators are of no use against
solvent vapours, injurious gases or lack of oxygen.
Chemical cartridge respirators should not be used where gas masks are required.
Chemical filtering-type respirators should not be used where atmospheric supporting-type or selfcontained units are required.
From the standpoint of fire hazard, pure oxygen or air containing more than 21per cent oxygen should
not be used in atmosphere-supplied respirators or in self-contained type of breathing apparatus.
Canister gas masks should not be used in areas where oxygen content is less than 19.5 per cent by
Canister gas masks should not be used for fire fighting purpose. In fire fighting operations, wear selfcontained breathing apparatus.
Each person, who is required to wear the gas mask, should first undergo physical examination,
especially of his heart and lungs. Anyone in questionable physical condition should be prevented from
entering into a work environment posing respiratory hazards.
The user of a gas mask should enter the contaminated area cautiously. If the mask leaks or the canister
is exhausted, the user will usually know by the odour, taste or irritation of eye, nose or throat. The user
should then immediately return to fresh air.
If the canister of the gas mask is exhausted, it should not be left attached to the gas mask; but removed.
A new canister should be selected and fastened in place.
When a respirator is worn in a gas or vapour that has little or no warning properties like carbon
monoxide, it is recommended that a fresh canister should be used each time a worker enters the toxic
Filters of particulate filter respirators should be replaced whenever breathing becomes difficult due to
plugging of filters by retained particulates inside.
No one should wear self-contained breathing apparatus unless he is physically fit and well trained.
Refresher training should be provided at least every six months.
No one wearing self-contained breathing apparatus should work in an irrespirable atmosphere unless
another person, similarly equipped, is in attendance, ready to give assistance.
A canister or gas mask with broken seals should not be kept in service for more than one year,
regardless of how little it has been used.
In atmospheres with a high concentration of hydrogen cyanide or any other contaminant, which are
absorbed through the skin, the user need to be protected by appropriate type of respirator and clothing.

Using your hands is an almost indispensable part of any job and thus there is always the risk of getting your
hands injured. You must therefore select appropriate hand protection. Furthermore, if your hands are likely to
come into contact with harmful or corrosive chemicals resulting in rashes or skin inflammations, products such as
protective ointments can be used to provide extra protection. The regulations also expressly state that proprietors
shall provide sufficient supply of protective skin ointments to workers involved in electrolytic chromium processes.
Common protective gloves:
(1) Gloves for common tasks (Leather and Cotton Gloves [IS: 6994 (Part 1)-1973])

(1) Gloves for handling chemicals

(2) Welding gloves

(3) Cold-resistant gloves

(4) Cut-resistant gloves

(6)Gloves for electrical work (Rubber Gloves for Electrical Purposes (IS: 4770-1991))

Protective gloves must have a good tactile sense, elasticity and dexterity. They must not be slippery and must be
easy to put on and take off. They can be made of materials such as cotton, latex, nylon or leather. The
appropriate kind of gloves should be selected according to the nature of the work. The only places gloves may
not be used are situations where the gloves might get tangled up in moving parts of machinery such as drill
spindles and revolving cutting tools.

Materials for Selecting Proper Gloves:



Synthetic rubber material offers the highest

Penetration resistance to acid, gases and water
vapours e.g. acetic acid, ammonium hydroxide,
hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, sulphuric acid.
Synthetic rubber material has excellent tensile
strength, heat resistance, ability to withstand most

acids, caustics and remains flexible at low

temperature, e.g. ammonium hydroxide, hydrochloric
acid, hydrofluoric acid, sodium hydroxide, and
sulphuric acid.
Synthetic rubber material offers superior chemical and
abrasion resistance; suggested for use in oils, fats,
acids, caustics and alcohol.
Synthetic thermoplastic polymer provides excellent wet
grip and abrasion resistance. It is chemically resistant
to oil, grease, acids and solvents.
Water-soluble synthetic material cannot be used in
water or water based solutions; it is highly
impermeable to gases; it has excellent chemical
resistance to aromatic and chlorinated solvents, e.g.
benzene, trichloroethylene.




Accident statistics from the Labour Department reveal that there are many accidents annually caused
by stepping on objects and slips. So how can we reduce the risk of foot injuries to employees?
Wearing appropriate safety footwear is one of the easy and effective ways.
Selection of suitable safety footwear
Before making a selection, you must understand the major hazards causing direct or indirect foot
injuries to employees.
(1) Being struck by hard, rolling or falling objects.
(2) Sharp objects piercing the sole or body of the shoe.
(3) Being scratched by sharp objects, resulting in epidermal laceration.
(4) Slipping on wet floors.
(5) Contact with chemicals, molten metals and hot or cold surfaces.
(6) If electrostatic discharge is inadequate, explosions may be triggered in environments containing
flammable gases. Furthermore, the electrical conductivity of the feet can also affect the risk of
electrical shock.
Specifications for Different Types of Safety Shoes

Leather Safety Boots and Shoes [IS: 1989 (Part-1 & 2)-1986]
Firemans Leather Boots (IS: 4128-1980)
Electrical Safety Shoes IS 15298-2 (2011): Personal Protective Equipment, Part 2:Safety
Chemical Safety Shoes (IS:5557-1969 gives specifications for rubber knee boots for use on
floors, which are covered with oil, grease, etc.)
Electrical-cum-Chemical Gum Boots (PVC full gums boots with stockinet lining inside and
conforming to IS:12254-1988 can be used both for chemical and electrical purposes)

Use and maintenance of safety footwear

Safety footwear can only work effectively and protect the feet if they are properly used and looked
(1) You must not alter the structure of the safety footwear yourself.
(2) You must wear safety footwear of a suitable size.
(3) You must pay attention to personal hygiene and keep your feet and footwear clean and dry.
(4) Regularly clean your safety footwear. In addition, the soles of safety shoes must also be cleaned
regularly to avoid the build-up of grime. This is because the grime on and texture of the sole of
footwear can affect the electrical conductivity of the soles and may also reduce their anti-slip
(5) Store your safety footwear in a shaded, dry and well-ventilated place.


IS 3521 : 1999 (Reaffirmed 2002)
For working at heights, the safety regulations require employers to adopt basic safety precautions including the
provision of suitable working platforms, safe access and egress and the erection of suitable guardrails at
hazardous locations. If these safety precautions are not feasible, safety belts must be used.
These can be of following types:

Fall protection system for working at heights

(i) Body Belt:

To limit movement and positioning

To restrict the worker to a safe area

To help prevent a fall

This is used where freedom of movement is most important and where only limited fall hazards exist. This is not
recommended where vertical free-fall hazards exist.

General purpose safety belt and its lanyard

(ii) Body Harness:

This is used when the worker must move at dangerous heights. In a fall, the harness distributes impact force over
a wider body area than does a belt, reducing the possibility of injury to the wearer.

(iii) Suspension Belt:

This is used at those work situations where it is not possible to work from a fixed surface and the worker must be
totally supported by a suspension harness, as in the case of stack maintenance, tree trimming, shipboard
painting, etc.

Care of Safety Belts and Harness

Each wearer of safety belt/harness should inspect this PPE daily before use. In case of fabric belts, if the
considerable portion of outer fibres is noticed to be cut or worn, the belt should be rejected. Leather belts should
especially be observed for cuts or deep scratches on the strap. Any deep cut of considerable length, in a
direction across the width of the belt, calls for discarding of the belt. Within 30 to 90 days each belt should be
thoroughly examined by a trained inspector. Belt hardware should be checked and the worn parts replaced .
Each belt rivet should be examined to be certain that it is secure. Safety belts in service should not be tested, as
it may damage the belt, making it unsafe. Therefore, only sample belts or worn or doubtful belts should be

tested for destruction to determine their safety. Belts subject to the maximum impact in an accidental fall should
not be reused because the fittings might have been over stressed and weakened. The safety belt should be
securely buckled and worn tight enough to prevent any possibility of the worker slipping out of it.

Protective clothing provides physical protection and can increase comfort levels while on the job.
The following kinds of protective clothing are available, affording protection from different hazards.

(1) General purpose protective clothing(Including raincoats)

2) Heat-resistant work clothing/aprons- Used for welding to prevent burns from sparks, fragments and flying
molten metals

3) High-temperature work clothing - For employees working around smelting furnaces, firemen etc.

(4) Low-temperature work clothing- For employees working for long periods in refrigerated conditions

(5) Anti-electrostatic work clothing- Suitable for workplaces where flammable materials are handled or
where static charges might affect the quality of electronic products.

(6) Impermeable work clothing for protection against chemicals- Chemical spill handling and asbestos
handling etc.

(7) Life jackets- Reduce the risk of drowning when an employee falls into water

(8) Reflective clothing- Such as for working in busy traffic; brightly-coloured reflective clothing can
increase the visibility of employees and reduce their chances of being struck by vehicles or machinery.