Your safety is your business - wear PPE at work!

When an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit the northern part of Japan in March 2011 followed by a devastating tsunami, no one had predicted the monstrous effects of natures' wrath to the nuclear plants based in Fukushima where the reactor cooling systems became disabled causing radiation leakage. Eight months have gone past and scientists all over the world are still gauging the effects of the radiation leaks into the atmosphere. Recently, the Japanese science ministry has released its findings that 8 percent of the country's surface area are affected with radiation.

This catastrophic experience is beyond anyone's control. But in the days when workers in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant (considered to be one of the 15th largest nuclear plant stations in the world) dared to report on duty to assist and maintain safeguards and prevent further leaks of radiation from the nuclear plant, images of these workers shown around the world wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed to prevent radiation contamination to themselves.

Indeed, not a day goes by where news coverage of  nature related calamities or work accident strikes a chord in each one of us. Whilst there is no doubt that natural calamities or accidents happen when least expected and wearing the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will not stop or prevent these situations to occur, it is comforting for a worker to know that when accidents strike, they have the necessary PPE that can minimise the level of injury that they may sustain.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is clothing, equipment or substances designed to protect workers from risks of injury or illness.  PPE is not the control measure to prevent the accidents at work; merely it is a protective gear or tool for the workers in conjunction with other control measures put in place to avoid the hazard and minimise the risks.

PPE comes in different forms depending on the industry. As a general guideline, workers body parts are protected by the following:

  • goggles for eye and face protection
  • ear muffs and ear plus for hearing protection
  • respirators for breathing protection
  • gloves and safety boots for the hands and feet
  • safety helmets and sun hats
  • high visibility clothing or protective boiler suits

Employers have the obligation to provide and issue PPE to workers and visitors under their Duty of Care.

Primary considerations of employers when selecting and issuing personal protective equipment for their workers range from suitability for the type of work, adequate protection, right fit, comfort, easy to handle and use and not creating additional health or safety risks. PPE should also pass the strict Health and Safety Standards of the country where it is being used. 

In turn, each worker is expected to wear the issued PPE when performing their duties at all times.

Your S-A-F-E-T-Y at work begins within yourself!


Fukushima Daiichi workers
Credit: Courtesy of Ho/AFP Getty Images