What are the different types of PPE?

Side view of woman in overalls wearing a face mask, face visor and hair net against green backdrop.

PPE (personal protective equipment) is a term that’s made headlines ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people will have been unfamiliar with the term until recently, which could cause confusion about what is and what isn’t PPE. 

As a BSiF registered critical PPE supplier for a range of organisations, we’ve used our knowledge to put together this helpful guide on what the different types of PPE are and what items fall into each of the different categories.

Eye protection

The first type of PPE is eye protection – items in this category help us protect our eyesight in potentially hazardous situations. Though many different types of organisations will use eye protection, it’s particularly important for construction workers, as they’ll often need to use heavy machinery that could cause pieces of wood, concrete and metal to ricochet into the eyes and cause damage.

Below we’ve listed some of the most common types of eye protection PPE:

Head protection

Though hard hats definitely fall into this category, head protection PPE actually incorporates many other items. Surgeons, doctors, nurses and care workers, for example, are all required to wear face masks to help prevent the spread of germs and infections – which is another example of PPE that falls into the head protection category. 

Below we’ve listed all the most common types of head protection:

Body protection

Body protection PPE is anything that helps us protect the different areas of our body, such as the torso, arms, hands, legs and feet. Again, most body protection PPE is relevant for construction workers and those working in extreme environments. Employees who work in sub-zero temperatures, for instance, will need to wear adequate thermal gear such as insulated jackets and gloves to keep themselves warm during work. 

That said, there are also other forms of body protection for industries outside of those mentioned. Healthcare workers or salon staff might wear disposable aprons to prevent their clothes from becoming contaminated with infectious bacteria or germs. Then there’s also hi-vis body wear – which is often used by road-workers, warehouse workers and site-workers to help them stay visible on sites where there’s lots of vehicle activity.

Below we’ve listed the most common types of body protection PPE:

Non-wearable PPE

Finally, not all PPE items have to be wearable, there are plenty that we don’t wear that still contribute towards keeping us safe and healthy. A good example of this is sanitisation products, such as sanitiser sprays and hand gels that stop bacteria from spreading. Items such as floor signs and a-frames also fall into this category, since they use bold messaging and eye-catching colours to help inform people of potential hazards they should avoid.

Below we’ve listed the most common types of non-wearable PPE:

Stuck trying to plan how you’ll safely integrate your employees back into the office? Make sure to check out our Safely Back to Work page to find out how we can help a variety of industries smoothly transition from home back into the office.

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