Every day, countless people around the world put themselves at risk in the workplace. Construction workers are surrounded by weighty objects. Tractor and forklift operators work with heavy machinery. Employees of chemical manufacturers are constantly surrounded by hazardous substances.
To do their jobs efficiently and safely, all these workers rely on PPEs, or personal protective equipment, to reduce risks. But what are these equipment pieces made of?
Made of extremely fine glass filament woven into a binding agent, fibreglass is one of the most commons substances in PPEs. In its clear, plastic form, fibreglass is often employed to protect the eyes and face.
Tinted fibreglass goggles protect your people’s eyes from irritants and particles. These types of goggles are indispensable to welders. Fibreglass face shields are resistant to heat as well, protecting the wearer’s face from heated particles, like sparks and molten metal. Fibreglass can also be used to create or reinforce hardhats.
The importance of neon dyes to personal protection cannot be overstated. Thanks to the fluorescent qualities of these dyes and paints, workers can easily spot each other and avoid accidents.
For example, high visibility vests ensure drivers and other operators of heavy machinery can see the wearer, protecting them from getting run over. Aside from their importance in protective clothing, neon dyes are also integral in paints. Strips of neon paint designate lanes in warehouses and loading docks. They’re also used to demarcate hazardous areas, such as deposit zones for heavy loads and places with high-voltage components.
Rubber is an incredibly versatile substance. Aside from its flexibility and elasticity, different types of rubber also resist different kinds of chemicals. Basic rubber gloves and aprons can resist household cleaning chemicals and solvents. Specialised types of rubber gloves and aprons handle more specific chemicals.
For example, butyl rubber gloves can resist different types of acid including nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid. Meanwhile, nitrile rubber gloves are resistant to chlorinated solvents. Finally, natural rubber or latex PPEs are suited to handling water-based acids and solutions, as well as alkali and salts.
Natural leather, once properly cured and processed, is suitably resistant to fire and dry heat. There’s a reason that for centuries, blacksmiths and people in similar professions used it to make their gloves and aprons. Leather also offers basic protection from wounds, such as abrasions and incisions.
Although they’re not as strong and resilient as most synthetic materials, natural substances still offer a measure of protection against harm. This is because some synthetic materials, particularly some kinds of plastics, are even more flammable than natural materials.
For example, with special treatment, cotton and wool become fire-resistant not to mention they’re more comfortable and breathable than synthetics. Disposable paper suits are often used to protect people from irritants, like dust.
Now more than ever, we need to understand PPEs. These materials are often the only things standing between people and grievous harm. Thanks to these assorted substances, hardworking men and women can continue to provide society with the products and services it needs.