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Means of individual protection 

Means of individual protection are products, appliances and equipments which are used by the employee in order to protect his/her safety and health against dangerous or harmful impact of risk factors in work environment.

When choosing the means of individual protection one must evaluate all risk factors present at work place. 

Employer must provide employees with the necessary protective means free of charge.

Means of individual protection:

  • Head protection - crash helmets for protection of skull, caps, bonnets, hairnets and protective headgear, for instance, sou'westers. Used in cases if one can suffer from falling objects (construction, store-houses, etc.) at work as well as while working with mechanisms in which long and untied hair can be pulled in and similar cases.
  • Face and eyes protection- spectacles, goggles, protective screens, face shields, arc-welding masks. They protect from the impact of dust, gas, bright light, infra-red, laser and in several cases also from ionizing radiation and electromagnetic fields.
  • Hearing protection - earmuffs, earplugs, acoustic helmets. Must be used if noise in work place exceeds the permissible critical levels of exposure:
  • if noise level exceeds 85 decibels  (dBA), employer must ensure that employees use individual protective means for hearing;
  • if noise reaches level of 80 decibels (dBA), employer must ensure that employees have access to protective means for hearing.
  • Respiratory and digestive apparatus protection - respiratory devices, masks with suitable dust and/or gas filters, appliances with an air supply. Used if contact with dust, smoke, steam, gas, radioactive particles, viruses, bacteria as well as other risk factors related to impact of ambience and surrounding conditions - heat, cold, air moisture - can occur in the work place.
  • Hand and arm protection - gloves to protect from mechanic impact (protection from pricks, cuts, vibration), chemical impact (acids, alkalis, organic solvents), ionizing radiation and radioactive contamination, cold, heat, wrist protection for heavy work, dielectric gloves.
  • Leg and foot protection- safety boots, shoes with additional protective toe-cap, shoes and overboots with heat-resistant sole, vibration-resistant shoes, electric insulation shoes, protective boots for chain-saw operators, kneepads etc. Used if high temperature, sparks, splashes of acids and alkalis etc. are present at work place.
  • Abdomen and trunk protection - protective waistcoats, jackets and aprons to provide protection from machinery, for instance, when cutting, drilling, milling, melting metals, coveralls (overalls, wraps), aprons to provide protection from chemicals, x-ray, life jackets, protective aprons to provide protection from blades, body belts, etc.
  • Fall prevention equipment - safety systems and appliances to prevent falls from height, for instance, fall-prevention equipment (safety belts), body-holding devices, safety ropes, wires, coupling hooks. Used in cases when it is possible to fall from height as well as during the rescue, reparation, research works.
  • Body protection against harmful environmental impact or protective clothing - various types of clothing to protect from mechanic injuries, chemicals, molten metals, infra-red and electromagnetic radiation, dust, gas, heat as well as protective clothing for chain-saw operators, fluorescent or reflecting accessories (in road reparation, for rescue service staff).
  • Work clothing - overalls, jackets, dungarees, trousers, rain jackets, coats, suits.
  • Skin protection- barrier creams, barrier ointments. Used when hands are exposed to the large amounts of water, aggressive agents, solutions, for instance, organic solvents, oils, lubricants as well as in works where protective gloves are required. It must be kept in mind that these agents should not irritate skin and they must be easily cleaned and washed off. 

Some facts one must know about means of individual protection:

  • appropriate protection against risk factors to which employee is subjected must be ensured;
  • eyes, nose, mouth, skin etc. parts of human body must be protected;
  • they must be as comfortable as possible;
  • used in compliance with available instructions and requirements by manufacturer;
  • can be used only for designed purposes;
  • must be kept clean and undamaged;
  • must be certified regarding risk that the employee wants to prevent ("CE" marking);
  • must not lose any of its features;
  • intended for individual use (must be cleaned and disinfected if used for several persons);
  • they must not increase the risk;
  • if several protective means are used simultaneously, they should be compatible.  

If protective means given to the employee are not comfortable and suitable, for instance, they pinch if too small or other difficulties arise while using them, employer must be informed so that he/she could swap for more appropriate ones! 

Use protective means provided by the employer for your work!