If you work in the oil and gas industry there’s a good chance that the right boots for the job, and a hard hat are part of your daily uniform. In fact, personal protective equipment (PPE) is important in any high risk industry – and getting the best equipment for the job can be a matter of life and death.

To clarify, PPE is any clothing or equipment that protects you from specific health or safety hazards in any particular job.

Those hazards could include physical hazards such as the potential for trips and falls, or falling objects; the use of heavy machinery or equipment; chemicals; gases or airborne particulates; electricity and more.

Examples of PPE include clothing such as boots, hard hats and safety gloves, through to more specialized equipment such as goggles, ear protection and respirators.

Woman wearing PPE

The responsibilities of the worker

In this blog we’ve talked about how important it is for workers to take responsibility for their own personal safety. If you spend your days working in the field, or in a plant or warehouse, you know how important it is to come to work wearing the right clothing. Depending on what you do, you might need pieces such as:

  • Weather-appropriate clothing.
  • Safety footwear – such as steel-toed boots, rubber boots etc.
  • Hard hat.
  • Protective gloves.

Other, more specialized safety equipment, such as respirators or fall prevention gear will be provided by your employer, and it is their responsibility to ensure that you understand what equipment to use for different situations, and that you receive the proper training in its use.

But just having the right clothing isn’t very helpful if you don’t use it right. It’s just as important for you to make sure that your PPE is well-maintained, and that you use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The responsibilities of the employer

If you have workers engaged in high risk occupations, it’s your responsibility to ensure that they have everything they need to be as safe as possible. When it comes to PPE, your responsibilities include:

  • Conducting a hazard assessment.
  • Providing specialized equipment such as respirators, safety eyewear, high visibility vests, hearing protection, aprons, fall protection gear etc.
  • Providing appropriate training to ensure that all employees are clear on what equipment they should use when, and how to use it correctly.
  • Ensuring that equipment is maintained and in good working order.
  • Ensuring that the age of equipment is within its recommended worklife.

Whether you’re a manager in your organization, or an employee out in the field, it’s important to know your own responsibilities. Because when workers don’t wear the proper protective equipment, it can have tragic consequences.

You can read more about PPE in the latest issue of Frontline Magazine. Look for some great articles on boots, respirators, cold weather gear, head injuries and more.