Personal Protection Equipment
Personal protection in harsh environments
Employees working in industrial workplaces are exposed to many environmental influences, including noise, dust, chemicals, light, gases and more. Protective equipment is required in such areas.
EU Directive 89/391/EEC sets out general principles for risk assessments, provision of protective equipment and health protection. To help ensure compliance with these regulations, Distrelec offers a broad range of products suitable for personal protection in the field of electronics and maintenance.
The European standard for personal eye protection, EN 166:2001, specifies the functional optical and physical requirements for various types of eye protection. Open-sided goggles are approved for protection against particles travelling at high speeds up to 45 m/s. To ensure protection against particles travelling faster than 45 m/s, drops of fluid, gases and hot solids, workers are required to wear safety goggles or even a face protection shield. Protection against radiation, in particular UV, sunlight and laser light, may also be required. Finally, there are coated goggles that improve vision.
Motors, compressors and other moving parts in machinery and equipment all generate noise. Without protection, employees risk permanent hearing damage. Hearing protection products are classified according to their attenuation value (single number rating, or SNR). Light/medium attenuation: SNR <20 dB. Medium to high attenuation: SNR >20–30 dB. Extreme attenuation: SNR >30 dB.
There are two main types of work gloves, classified according to electrical risk:
Special electrical safety gloves with a high degree of insulation and excellent tactile sensitivity are worn for maintenance and installation work on live conductors above the low-voltage range.
When working with semiconductors and assemblies in the low-voltage range, gloves with ESD protection may need to be worn instead of conventional gloves to prevent any damage resulting from electrostatic charge.
Personal protective equipment features highly in most industries, but due to the highly specialised requirements of the electrical world, some of the priorities are slightly different. Clothing is a prime example of this and although most workers require clothing to offer protection from the elements, along with resistance to impact, dirt and contamination, the electrical engineer often has to consider the likelihood of electrostatic discharge. Most protective clothing, therefore, is designed to be ESD suitable. Most common items of clothing are provided, including T-shirts and fleeces. Footwear also puts ESD as a primary consideration and a wide range of shoe styles is available, including safety shoes, ESD socks and insoles. Protective headgear includes safety helmets and caps, and eye protection is provided by goggles and safety glasses. Many types of gloves protect the hands and of course most are ESD suitable. Face masks and visors protect the face and respiratory tracts, and earmuffs and earplugs provide hearing protection. Overalls not only protect the wearer from dust and splashes but are also essential to prevent contamination of the workplace, and needless to say, are designed to be suitable for ESD-sensitive environments. High-visibility clothing is also available for those involved in fieldwork.