worker protective equipment

Some workplaces are more hazardous than others. From equipment malfunctions to inadequate building security, medical and factory staff suffer unnecessary injuries each year. If you’re an employer or a worker wondering if you have the personal protective equipment (PPE) your location requires, take a look at these types of protection. 

Eye and Face

Eyewear is the number one PPE in this category, with goggles being essential in so many workplaces. Depending on the work being done, there are a variety of goggles designed to protect employees’ sight. The first are general safety glasses with side shields, which offer minimum protection for labs and woodworkers. 

Second are laser safety glasses, which protect the eye from various laser wavelengths, with chemical splash glasses on level three. Next are impact goggles, which are used for protection from flying debris. These are followed by face shields for better chemical splash coverage as well as use with respiratory equipment. Face shields are common when dealing with medical contagions as well. 

Hands and Feet

Foot protection is primarily meant to prevent slip and fall accidents, but can also offer impact protection with steel-toed boots. Hand protection, on the other hand, comes in a wider variety. Latex gloves offer varying levels of protection against chemicals, eventually guarding against hazardous spills. 

There are also insulated gloved for those who work with hot liquids and open flames, as well as those that offer protection from cryogenic liquids. Finally, there are wire mesh gloves that protect against cuts from live animals or tools. 

Body Protection

Traditional white lab coats offer the body mild protection from chemical spills and radiation. These are made from a cotton/polyester blend. The all-polyester variety, which are also white, are designed to protect against infectious materials. There are also flame-resistant jackets that protect against fire and organic solvents. 


Items like surgical masks fall into the respiratory PPE category. Half- and full-face masks capable of regulating everything from fumes to mucus membranes are included, helping with hazardous waste and disease in most cases.

Masks with air purifying ventilators also require respirator cartridges. The higher the grade, the more they protect against. Lower grades are for dust and organic vapor from solvents, while higher grades are used for chemicals that can produce acidic gas. 


Finally, some workers need to protect their hearing from loud noises. Disposable earplugs are the most common and cost-effective, with an average protection of 85 decibels. Reusable plugs offer similar protection but allow the user to clean and use them again. There are also hearing bands, which use a flexible material that can be worn around the neck in workplaces where constant protection is not required.

With these PPEs, decibel protection matters. The highest protection ranges around 110 dBA protection, but always check the NRR (noise reduction rating). It’s vital that employers and employees know the levels of sound they’re working with, allowing them to buy higher quality earplugs when necessary.