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7 Common Myths and Misconceptions About PPE

7 Common Myths and Misconceptions About PPE

20th Sep 2022

Personal protective equipment continues to evolve in an effort to make a historically dangerous industry far safer for the working individual. However, there are many common myths and misconceptions about PPE that put hundreds of professionals in danger each and every day. Let’s debunk some of the most popular personal protective equipment lies you might have heard.

Quick Job? No PPE

The most common misconception concerning personal protective equipment is that, for quick or small tasks, you don’t require PPE. Simple projects like cutting, cleaning, or supervising seem harmless, and since they’re speedy, the chances of suffering an injury are very low. Right? Wrong! Accidents almost always occur in the blink of an eye, making PPE essential for any and all job site-related activities no matter the amount of labor required.

However, many individuals working within this industry prefer to save the time it takes to change into proper personal protective equipment and attend to minor jobs without it. They feel that the inconvenience of locating and wearing each item of PPE consumes valuable minutes of the day, and it does take time. But this extra labor significantly decreases the chances of injuries, and ultimately, injuries waste the most time. Plus, the well-being of yourself and everyone around you should be the number one priority. All these factors considered, it’s always best to ensure you have all your protective equipment on before, during, and after conducting any task or job.

All PPE Is Reusable

Suppose you work primarily in roadside construction or related industry jobs. Chances are most of your personal protective gear will last you many years to come, provided you wash, clean, and store it properly (more on that later). However, certain items are only good for one use and require replacement often. These items include respiratory protective equipment (RPE) such as respirator masks and respirator filters, as well as gloves, contamination suits, inserted-ear protection, and caps and hair nets.

Respiratory protective equipment, for example, becomes less effective at filtering or blocking toxins, bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants after even one use. Attempting to wash a mask or respirator filter will wear them even faster. There are even other pieces of replaceable equipment that have a strict expiration date. As such, it’s important to recognize that all of your PPE requires regular and careful inspections to ensure every item will function properly. If you’re unsure of any PPE item’s lifespan before entering a hazardous environment, check with the manufacturer. They can provide specific requirements that guarantee maximum protection.

Washing Myths & Misconceptions

Concerning wearable PPE, such as vests, shirts, fabric gloves, and pants, many individuals clean them as if they were any other garment in their wardrobe. While it is essential that you wash your personal protective equipment often, these items do require specific methods to ensure functionality and durability. Let’s focus on high-visibility clothing like vests and shirts, especially those with fluorescent and/or reflective materials and fabrics.

You should always separate these items from other clothing before throwing them in the wash. Secondly, we recommend using a cold wash and gentle cleaning agents. This ensures that nothing is damaged during the washing process. Lastly, either hang dry or use a low-heat tumble to finish the process. Following these steps ensures that your most important personal protective equipment items stay fresh and functional.

Storing Myths & Misconceptions

After properly cleaning your personal protective equipment, it’s time to store it for the time off from work. Many people simply fold up their clothing and store it with the rest of their wardrobe since, well, it’s just like any other garment. Except PPE is most definitely not like the other clothing your own. Due to their specific design elements and overall importance regarding your well-being while on the job, you should store your personal protective equipment more delicately and thoughtfully.

Consolidate your arsenal of PPE to one specific cabinet or area in the closet. This ensures that no unrelated wardrobe item is potentially damaging your clothing and reduces the likelihood of losing or misplacing essential gear. Hang your shirts, vest, and pants, if possible. Keep clothing items and accessories (gloves, helmets, boots) in dry, dark, and cool environments to prevent mold, damage, and discoloration. Much like cleaning, properly adhering to these storage rules increases the effectiveness and longevity of your personal protective equipment.

PPE is Only Required for Workers Directly Involved With Hazardous Tasks

If you’re an individual who works each and every day on the job site, you know that PPE is mandatory at all times. If you’re an office body that merely visits hazardous working environments from time to time, you might be tempted to ditch each and every piece of required personal protective gear. In reality, any time you step foot in a dangerous, active construction zone, you must wear any and all required PPE. This includes hardhats, vests, steel-toed boots, and potentially masks, eye protection, and ear protection, even if you’re standing away from the action.

More PPE Items, More Protection

Wearing personal protective equipment can feel like donning a suit of armor. However, having more protective gear on your body doesn’t guarantee more protection. Each garment and accessory serves a specific role. A Hi-Vis sweatshirt alerts others of your presence. Meanwhile, helmets prevent head injuries, and masks protect your lungs. Just because you wear all of these items doesn’t mean you’re less likely to suffer an accident or injury. In fact, wearing more PPE than is required of you can actually increase the chances of encountering dangerous situations.

PPE is the Only Form of Protection Keeping Me Safe

While modern innovations to personal protective equipment have led to a far safer industry overall, there are many other aspects at play in your working environment that keep you and others safe. Specifically, education and training, especially for hazardous situations, ensure the well-being of everyone more than wearing protective gear. PPE is merely the last line of defense when it comes to preventing injuries. Instead, understanding how to avoid and recognize these workplace dangers can prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.

These seven myths and misconceptions about PPE are common for a reason. Many people make these mistakes! By understanding the dangers present in your everyday working environment, you can come prepared to wear all the proper personal protective equipment and ensure safety for yourself and others. 

7 Common Myths and Misconceptions About PPE