Safe Work Australia defines personal protective equipment (PPE) as anything an employee uses or wears to keep safe and healthy in the workplace. This is to be provided by the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), in addition to the appropriate training and instruction to use it.
PPE can include a range of items used or worn by workers to reduce health and safety risks. Hard hats, earplugs, goggles, and gloves are some basic items. The list also encompasses gear used for respiratory protection, protective workwear like vests and aprons, as well as safety boots. Sunscreen and lip balm are less obvious but necessary items. Everyday clothing and uniforms that are not used for personal protection aren’t considered PPE.
PPE is often the last resort to combat ongoing risks and hazards when all other higher-level measures have been exhausted. Proper use and wearing of (the right) PPE means workers aren’t exposed to risks to their health and safety, that their vision or mobility isn’t in any way restricted, and that the gear Is comfortable. PCBUs are required to select gear that is appropriate for the job and any possible hazards, consult with workers about suitable equipment, and ensure that it is used and worn properly. The workers’ responsibilities are to maintain the gear clean, use it properly, and inform superiors in the case of damage. Workers who refuse to wear PPE or intentionally misuse it could face disciplinary action.
The onslaught of the global pandemic has raised awareness of the importance of PPE and safety gear not just in the workplace, but also at home. Face masks, sanitiser, gloves, and goggles have been sold by the millions. Here, as with PPE for the workplace, quality must be at the forefront. Individuals and businesses can choose among dozens of manufacturers and retailers. Try to avoid cheap imports, as these will rarely meet the strict standards set out for each product.
Who are Paramount Safety Products?
Buying local means products that account for Australian working conditions. A major producer of PPE is local company Paramount Safety Products and their branded Pro Choice safety gear. Founded in Pert in 1992, the company expanded from a manufacturer of hand protection products to a comprehensive range of all things PPE used in the construction, mining, infrastructure, manufacturing, food, and medical industries, as well as general purpose PPE for everyday home use. Employing more than 100 people at home and abroad, Paramount Safety Products today produces protective headwear, hearing protection, protective eyewear, reusable and disposable respiratory protection products, protective workwear, and sun protection. Pro Choice safety gear also encompasses site protection, with bollards, barriers, bunting, and barricades and hazard tape. The business has extended its core product lineup of hand protection, to include gloves of varying designs and materials and used in a multitude of industries.
Pro Choice Hand Protection
There’s an extensive range of protective gloves in the Pro Choice safety gear lineup. This includes hardwearing mechanics gloves, made of durable materials like nylon or elastane, and enhanced with nitrile or polyamide in the palm and finger grip areas. Gloves must provide dexterity and reliable performance in wet and dry conditions, high levels of abrasion and tear resistance, and breathability for extended periods.
Anti-vibration gloves protect wearers from prolonged exposure to mechanical tremors. Thick padding in the palm and finger areas gives optimal cushioning, coupled with durable materials required to last the rigours of a work day. Cut-resistant gloves are used across many industries (construction, manufacturing, health services, and metal fabrication and welding) and provide protection from sharp blades, edges, and general wear and tear. Most have steel mesh padding combined with nitrile and PU coatings. Chemical-resistant gloves cover more of the arm and are designed to protect from spills, leakage, and exposure to hazardous materials. Gloves come in a range of durable materials, like latex, nitrile, and cotton, and additional protection is provided with PVC, rubber, and neoprene coatings. Designs can be for general purpose use, but there are also industry-specific gloves.
Other glove types in the Pro-Choice range include biodegradable disposable gloves made from nitrile, latex or vinyl; leather welding gloves with kevlar reinforcement, needle-resistant gloves with enhanced palm and finger protection, as well as gloves sourced in a range of materials (cotton, PVC, leather, etc.), fingerless gloves and more. All gloves need to comply with the AS/NZS 2161 standard.
A range of bump caps and hardhats by Pro Choice offers head protection in industries like construction, mining, warehousing, and electrical applications. These provide resistance against blows to the head, protection from falling objects and debris, insulation against electrical shocks, etc. They are also water, chemical, and heat resistant. Protective headwear is rated against the AS/NZS 1801 standard.
Hard hats are classified in different categories and classes regarding the level of top and side impact protection and their insulative properties against electrical shocks. Materials include High-Density Polyethylene (HDE), Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), and Polypropylene (PP) – hard-wearing and impact-resistant plastics. Designs can be ventless (where full protection is required) or vented for air circulation and better comfort. Harness and chin straps are adjustable at multiple points. Pro Choice also has a full range of head accessories. like lamp brackets, liners, brow guards, sweatbands, straps, and more.
Hearing Protection and Protective Eyewear
Safety glasses and goggles from Pro Choice are worn by workers in construction, automotive, woodworking, manufacturing, medical, agricultural, and other fields. Lenses are made from scratch and impact-resistant polycarbonate, and where splash resistance is critical acetate is used. Glasses cover a smaller area around the eyes and are the more comfortable choice for low-hazard settings. Goggles offer more comprehensive protection, covering a larger portion of the face. Like hardhats, they can be vented or sealed, depending on where they’re used. When buying protecting eyewear, consider things like UV levels, infrared and extremely bright light sources (such as in welding), heat and high temperatures, exposure to various chemicals, and hazards relating to falling objects and debris (wood and metal shavings, sawdust, etc.) Eyewear needs to comply with the AS/NZS 1337 standard.
Hearing protection is offered in the form of earmuffs and earplugs and is designed to protect workers from excessive levels of noise pollution in areas like metal and woodworking, various production facilities, automotive workshops, airport ground staff services etc. Headbands, hardhat compatible earmuffs, and disposable and reusable earplugs are just some of the hearing protection gear on offer. The AS/NZS 1270 standard rates hearing protection products into five classes according to the level of provided protection.
What Else is on Offer?
This is just touching the surface of the range of protective and safety gear Pro Choice produces. There’s a wide variety of respiratory protection (disposable and reusable face masks and respirators); a complete range of protective workwear (safety vests, coveralls, rain gear, aprons, kneepads, back support etc), and site safety equipment (bollards, barriers, traffic cones, safety tags, tapes and more).