Workplaces today generally are safer than ever, thanks largely to the widespread use of personal protective equipment, or PPE, designed to help protect workers from many workplace hazards.

Know the different types of safety equipment and how to use it:

• Eye Protection: There is no such thing as a second chance when it comes to accidents involving eyes. That is why it is important to wear the right eye protection for the job. Examine eye protection equipment regularly and before each shift to ensure it is clean and free from scratches that could hamper vision.

• Foot Protection: Proper safety footwear can help avoid twists and strains, prevent slips and protect feet from falling objects and boot sole punctures. Inspect footwear regularly to ensure it continues to provide the traction and protection feet need. If the steel toe insert is exposed, the threads are worn or any part of the boot is cracked, worn or has holes, get a new pair.

• Hand Protection: Inspect gloves before each shift and replace them if they are torn, cracked, worn or damaged. Make sure gloves are the right size and type for the job. Gloves that are too small will wear out quickly and make hands tire quickly, while over-size gloves may hinder dexterity or become caught in equipment. Workers who deal with any hazardous substance should consult the applicable material safety data sheet or speak with their supervisor to determine which gloves are best for the job.

• Face Protection: Full face shields protect the eyes and face and are recommended for workers who may come in contact with splashing liquids or flying objects. Inspect face protection gear regularly for dirt and scratches and clean or replace it accordingly.

• Head Protection: Hardhats are standard issue in many workplaces. To work properly they must be fitted securely on the top of the head with the brim facing forward and the bands adjusted to ensure the suspension system distributes the load evenly over the entire head. Hats must be inspected regularly and should be replaced when the suspension system is worn or the shell is punctured, split or cracked.

• Hearing Protection: Exposure to excessive noise may create permanent hearing loss. To
protect hearing, wear earplugs that are comfortable and fit well.

Always consult the manufacturer's instructions before cleaning personal protective equipment. Clean equipment on a regular basis to protect against skin ailments and mold and mildew growth.

If PPE is broken, cracked or compromised in any way, replace it with equipment that is in good repair. Keeping PPE in good shape will not only improve its life and possibly save money; it will also ensure workers are getting all the protection their equipment was designed for.

Personal protective equipment is armor against workplace "war wounds." Wear it with confidence.