Investing in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Work

Written by | Updated August 28, 2017

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Product Guide

Every work environment involves some risk, whether it’s getting a crick in your neck or something more dangerous like inhaling fumes. Luckily personal protective equipment—also known as PPE—can help protect you from such hazards. With your health and safety in mind, we’ve put together this PPE safety product guide so you can secure yourself no matter the job.

We’ll cover common PPE types; how to choose the right PPE for your needs; and SafeWise-recommended PPE kits, PPE gloves, and other PPE clothing.

What Is PPE?

PPE is any kind of specialized equipment designed to help protect the wearer from safety risks. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide PPE to help guard employees from some of the most dangerous workplace hazards.1 But risks exist in nearly every workplace, so even if your job doesn’t require a certain type of PPE, your day-to-day health might benefit from having it.

How to Identify Workplace Hazards

Creating a safe work environment starts with recognizing your job’s hazards and identifying potential risks. A workplace risk assessment is a systematic examination of work activities that can help you do just that. SafeWise also encourages you to understand your employer’s responsibilities to provide safe and healthy working conditions, and let them know if something at your workplace doesn’t seem safe.

Types of Workplace Dangers

While some workplaces have more hazards than others, no environment is risk-free. The following list isn’t definitive, but it will help you analyze your own work environment for possible safety risks.

1. Safety Hazards

Safety hazards are any unsafe work condition that could cause illness, injury, or death. Here are a few examples.

  • Anything that can cause tripping, like cords running across the floor
  • Any situation that can cause falls, such as working from a ladder or scaffold
  • Unguarded moving machinery parts
  • Electrical hazards like improper wiring or overloaded outlets 

2. Physical Hazards

These hazards include factors in the environment that can harm you without necessarily touching you.

  • Extreme temperatures
  • Radiation, including microwaves, radiowaves, etc.
  • High exposure to ultraviolet rays 

3. Ergonomic Hazards

These hazards occur when the type of work or body position assumed while working harms the musculoskeletal system. Ergonomic hazards can cause short-term or long-term damage to your body. While trying to prevent ergonomic hazards, keep an eye out for these activities.

  • Frequent lifting
  • Repetitive motions
  • Improperly adjusted or inadequate chairs
  • Awkward movements 

4. Chemical Hazards

This hazard covers exposure to any chemical, whether it be in solid, liquid, or gas form.

  • Pesticides
  • Liquid in the form of cleaning products, paints, acids, etc.
  • Gases such as helium, propane, and carbon monoxide
  • Materials that are flammable or explosive, like gasoline

5. Biological Hazards

Biological hazards include exposure to disease or infectious materials that can produce harmful health effects. These hazards are most prevalent in workplaces like day care facilities, hospitals, and laboratories.

  • Bodily fluids, including blood and saliva
  • Fungus and mold
  • Viruses and bacteria
  • Insect bites

SafeWise-Recommended Personal Protective Equipment Brands

PPE comes in all different shapes and sizes, with each piece designed to protect you from a specific hazard. It’s vital to read product descriptions and technical specifications carefully to make sure you’re buying the right piece of PPE for your workplace and needs. Here are common categories of PPE and why you might need them.

Body protection

Best for jobs in transportation, roofing, or working with hazardous substances.
SafeWise recommendation: Ergodyne GloWear High Visibility Reflective Safety Vest

Eye Protection

Best for using power tools, welding, and handling dangerous substances that may splash.
SafeWise recommendation: Encon Wraparound Safety Glasses

Foot Protection

Best for jobs in demolition, construction, forestry, or boating.
SafeWise recommendation: Onguard Chemical-Resistant Boots

Hand and Arm Protection

Best for jobs in landscaping, food preparation, or handling hazardous substances.
SafeWise recommendation: Wells Lamont Chemical Resistant Gloves

Head Protection

Best for jobs in construction, excavation, logging, or work tunnels.
SafeWise recommendation: Amston Vented Hard Hat

Hearing Protection

Best for construction, machine operation, and situations with excessive noise or vibration.
SafeWise recommendation: 3M Under Chin Banded Ball Ear Plugs

Respiratory Protection

Best for painting, farming, demolition, or any work involving excessive dust or harmful fumes.
SafeWise recommendation: Breath Buddy Reusable Half Mask Respirator

We hope you’ll use this guide to find the best personal protective equipment for your work environment. Then you can share this article with your co-workers to help everyone stay safe.

*SafeWise conducted impartial research on these pieces of personal protective equipment, but this does not guarantee your safety. Your unique job duties and workplace must be considered when choosing personal protective equipment.

 1. OSHA, “Employers Must Provide and Pay for PPE

Written by Alexia Chianis

Wanderlust junky and mom of two, Alexia is a former police officer and U.S. Army Captain who draws on her experiences to write about a myriad of safety topics. Learn more

Share this article.