There are many types of workers who work in dangerous environments where they are regularly exposed to electrical hazards, some of which are unseen. If the worker is exposed to energized equipment, an electric arc, or flash fire, the worker can be in a compromised position: he or she can find themselves completely unprotected from the electrical forces that lead to serious, if not fatal injuries.
Everyday work clothing can pose a risk for the worker. They can ignite and burn, even after the ignition source has been eliminated. When a worker is wearing regular clothing, they will continue burning until the fabric has burned away, in effect causing extremely serious contact burns on the worker’s skin. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the worker’s first line of defense in these situations.
“Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to items typically worn by a worker to provide protection from recognized hazards. Depending on the job task to be performed, PPE for the electric power industry generally includes safety glasses, face shields, hard hats, safety shoes, insulating (rubber) gloves with leather protectors, insulating sleeves, and flame-resistant (FR) clothing,” reports the United States Department of Labor.
PPE: Your First Line of Defense
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), Personal Protective Equipment is a major factor in differentiating between an electrical event a worker walks away from and one that makes them go through months of painful healing.
There are different types of PPE, including:
- Hard hats
- Safety shoes
- Flame-resistant clothing
- Safety glasses
- Face shields
- Fall protection equipment
If your job requires you to wear PPE, make sure you choose the equipment that is best for you, your particular job and your circumstances. PPE should always be appropriate considering the hazard. It should be worn correctly (zipped, buttoned, etc.), worn as the outermost layer, properly maintained, and it should be removed from service when necessary, advises the ESFI.