When it comes to PPE, there are a lot of grey areas and confusion about: How much PPE do I really need to wear to get done with a specific task? What type of gloves should I use to have enough protection? Should I clean my personal protective equipment every time after being used?
As an employee, it’s your primary responsibility to understand how and when PPE is adequately used and adhere to the correct safety protocols of your job. To make your life a bit easier and make sure you stay safe out there, we’ve collected and listed below some of the most common myths about personal protective equipment.
Myth #1: You can continue wearing your old yellow PPE as long as it’s fit for use, even after receiving a new orange kit.
- Truth: You must stop wearing the old yellow PPE from the moment when you receive the orange one because the latter provides you with better protection than the old gear.
Myth #2: If the weather is warm, or it is summer, you are allowed not to wear gloves.
- Truth: Hand protection is mandatory and doesn’t depend on the weather conditions.
Myth #3: You are not protected against electrical burns when wearing safety goggles because they are made of plastic that will melt.
- Truth: The safety goggles will protect you against electrical burns.
Myth #4: The safety glasses are uncomfortable and not practical when outside is raining.
- Truth: The new model of safety glasses has a surface that allows a quick run off of the water.
Myth #5: The safety glasses will mist up if the surrounding environment is humid.
- Truth: The safety glasses, part of the PPE, must be scratch-resistant and anti-mist.
Myth #6: If you wear leather gloves, you cannot get cut.
- Truth: Don’t think that wearing leather gloves makes you invincible. Leather gloves are easily penetrable and can’t prevent cuts, especially if they are wet. Be very careful when handling any sharp objects and machinery.
Myth #7: Gloves don’t allow you to have a good hold on objects.
- Truth: There are different types of gloves. If you need to work with small and lightweight objects, it is better to wear gloves with a textured finish on the fingerprints. Gloves with a roughened surface are more suitable for handling heavier, more massive objects.
Myth #8: The only purpose of wearing safety boots is to protect your feet against falling objects.
- Truth: It is true that the safety boots guard you against falling objects and slips, but the essential protection they give you is against any sharp objects on-site that can penetrate your foot from below and hurt you.
Myth #9: All types of safety gloves are the same.
- Truth: There are different types of safety gloves for different kinds of jobs. Some gloves can provide you with protection against chemicals, while others can prevent cuts or help you handle very hot or cold objects. The gloves you use to perform your work duties must be able to protect your hands and fingers against the specific hazards you’re exposed to.
Myth #10: You can avoid wearing gloves if you are allergic to latex.
- Truth: Individuals with latex allergies should wear a synthetic alternative (e.g. neoprene, nitrile or vinyl gloves).
Myth #11: It is not important to regularly clean your PPE.
- Truth: You must clean your PPE every time after you use it, and this should be done according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you damage your PPE, you must report it immediately to the respective manager so the PPE can be replaced.
Myth #12: As long as you wear PPE, your safety is guaranteed.
- Truth: Your PPE will keep you safe only if you’re wearing and using it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Moreover, PPE will protect you against possible hazards only if it hasn’t exceeded its expiration date.
Myth #13: It’s uncomfortable to use PPE while working.
- Truth: The PPE’s design is according to the physiology of the body parts where it is worn.
Myth #14: Wearing PPE is only for compliance.
- Truth: The main reason for wearing PPE is not for compliance but your own protection against hazards.
Myth #15: You are exposed to risks even if you wear your PPE.
- Truth: If you wear your PPE correctly, you should not question its effectiveness. It is proven PPE is useful and provides protection.
Myth #16: PPE is not mandatory, and you can perform your work duties without wearing one.
- Truth: All employees exposed to health and safety risks must wear PPE.
Myth #17: You can avoid wearing PPE if you need to do something very quick.
- Truth: It doesn’t matter how quick you can get done with a specific task. You must always wear your PPE as long as you work in a hazardous area where your health and safety are at risk. Accidents happen all the time and don’t have a time limit. It only takes a second for something to go wrong and an accident to occur.
Myth #18: You cannot obligate your employees to wear PPE if they don’t want to.
- Truth: If PPE is required for the performance of a task, it must be worn. However, it is a good practice to let your employees select the specific PPE they want to wear. If they find it comfortable, it is more likely that they will wear it afterwards.
Myth #19: The more PPE you wear, the better.
- Truth: Don’t wear unnecessary PPE, and remember that both over-protection and under-protection threaten your health and safety equally. Wear PPE that can offer you the best possible protection against the hazards you will be exposed to.
Myth #20: Wearing one piece of PPE is enough to protect yourself against workplace hazards.
- Truth: If you are required to wear four pieces of equipment, you must wear all of them to be protected against any hazards. All areas of your body that could be exposed to risks must be covered with proper PPE. As said above, being under-protected can be equally dangerous for your health and safety as being over-protected.
Myth #21: It is your responsibility to protect yourself when performing your work duties.
- Truth: It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the protective equipment required for a specific task. Moreover, the employer must show you where the equipment is stored, give you instructions on how to use it and what to do if it needs to be replaced.