What goes where? Personal protection equipment per body part

Protection equipment

There are many pieces of personal protection equipment (PPE) and each has been designed to protect a specific part of the body such as eyes and face, head, feet and legs, and hands and arms. All PPE gear should fit the wearer well, not just for comfort – which does encourage the use of protective devices – but also because ill-fitting equipment cam make a huge difference between safe coverage and dangerous exposure. PPE is not one size fits all, and there is a variety of sizes from which to choose from.

Eyes and face

It’s all fun and games until someone loses and eye, and therein lies the importance of eye protection. First of all, prescription glasses do not offer optimum protection against the majority of occupational eye and face hazards, which include:

·         Dust, dirt, metal, or wood chips from chipping, grinding, sawing, hammering, the use of power tools or even strong wind forces.

·         Chemical splashes from corrosive substances, hot liquids, solvents, and other solutions.

·         Tree limbs, chains, tools, ropes, and other objects swinging into the eyes or face.

·         Radiant energy from welding, harmful rays from the use of lasers or other radiant light.

Having established that, eye and face protection should be able to:

·         Protect against specific hazards.

·         Fit adequately and be comfortable.

·         Offer unrestricted vision and movement.

·         Allow unrestricted function of other pieces of PPE.

It is possible that a single pair of protective eyewear is used by more than one person. In that case, the item should be cleanable and disinfected after each use. One exception to this would be if the user also wears corrective glasses, in which case the protective eyewear should incorporate the prescription – rendering exclusive to that one person. Alternately, that individual could wear protective glasses over his or her prescription lenses – as long as it does inhibit or limit their vision. Types of eye and face protection include:

·         Safety goggles

Have metal or plastic safety frames and impact-resistant lenses.

·         Goggles

Tight-fitting and completely cover the eyes, eye sockets, and facial area around the eyes. Protect from impact, dust, and splashes.

·         Welding shields

Made with vulcanized fiber or fiberglass and fitted with a filtered lens. Protect from burns, flying sparks, metal spatter and slag chips.

·         Laser safety goggles

Protect against intense concentrations of laser-produced light.

·         Face shields

Transparent plastic sheets that extend from the eyebrows to below the chin and across the head’s entire width.



Helmets and hard hats are used to ensure protection against:

·         Objects falling from above.

·         Bumping the head against fixed objects.

·         Accidental head contact with electrical hazards.

Additionally, head protection should be:

·         Resistant to penetration by objects.

·         Shock-absorbing.

·         Water resistant.

·         Slow burning.

There must be a space of 1 to 1 1/4 inches (2.54 cm to 3.18 cm) between the hard hat’s hard outer shell and the wearer’s head to guarantee shock absorption during an impact and ventilation during normal use.

Classes of hard hats


Offer impact and penetration resistance, and voltage protection up to 2,200 volts.


Highest protection level against electrical hazards, and high-voltage shock and burn protection (up to 20,000 volts).


Lightweight comfort and impact protection but no electrical hazard protection.


Feet and legs

Foot and leg protection is a must, though it may vary depending on the environment. For example, non-conductive shows should be worn when the feet may be exposed to electrical hazards, but conductive shoes may be used if there is exposure to static electricity.

Foot and leg personal protection equipment includes:

·         Leggings

Protect lower legs and feet from heat hazards.

·         Metatarsal guards

Aluminum, steel, fiber or plastic guards protect instep area from impact and compression.

·         Toe guards

Placed over toes of regular shoes to protect from impact and compression. Steel, aluminum or plastic.

·         Combination foot and shin guards

Protect the lower legs and feet.

·         Safety shoes

Impact-resistant toes and heat-resistant soles.

·         Special purposes shoes

Electrically conducive.

Electrical hazard.

Foundry shoes.


Hand and arms

The upper extremities are protected with gloves. The type of glove used depends on the type of chemicals to be handled.

Chemical- and liquid-resistant gloves



Protective against


Resist oxidation, ozone corrosion and abrasion.

Remain flexible at low temperatures.

Acetaldehyde, acetic acid, acetone, ammonium hydroxide, butyl alcohol, etc.



Tensile strength.


Temperature resistance.

Acetic acid, acetone, ammonium hydroxide, ethyl alcohol, formaldehyde, etc.



Finger dexterity.

High density.

Tear resistance.

Acetaldehyde, acetic acid, ammonium hydroxide, dioxane, formic acid, etc.





Acetic acid, ammonium hydroxide, castor oil, cyclohexanol, diesel fuel, etc.