As experts in industrial machinery repair and in the sheet metal machinery industry, we know the critical importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Here in Australia, we have specific laws and regulations surrounding PPE, but this has not always been the case.

We all know that safety should be the number one consideration in any workplace, especially within industries where workers encounter hazards in the course of their general work. In 2022, there are many rules and regulations that aim to protect the health and safety of people in the workplace, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 2004.

Keep reading to find out all about personal protective equipment, your responsibilities as an employer or an employee, and our special safety tip to keep everyone in the workplace safe.

So, What is PPE?

According to Safe Work Australia, personal protective equipment is anything that can be worn, applied, or used to protect against health and safety risks in the workplace. PPE is used in many industries and many different workplaces because there are inherent risks in numerous jobs and career paths.

Machinery repair is one of the industries in which PPE is absolutely essential. Working with sheet metal machinery requires proper PPE, but as Safe Work notes, PPE is the last resort when it comes to mitigating risks and protecting against hazards. This is due to the fact that, while necessary as a last resort, PPE is actually one of the least effective hazard-minimising measures. That’s because higher-level measures should be applied first, such as completely removing a hazard if possible. Visit Safe Work Australia to find out more about when to use PPE, and inform yourself all about safety in the workplace.

PPE can include, but is not limited to:

  • High-visibility clothing
  • Hard hats
  • Protective goggles
  • Respirators
  • Safety boots
  • Sunscreen

There are also guidelines to follow when it comes to PPE, including that the PPE must be suitable for the job being carried out.

Early PPE: The Beginnings

The origins of PPE can surprisingly, be traced back all the way to the Middle Ages, if not before then – think suits of armour and protective gear worn by gladiators in ancient times, for example, can be seen as a type of personal protective equipment.

Another example of early PPE can again, be seen in the Middle Ages, in the masks worn by doctors during the Black Death. These ghoulish, beak-like masks are synonymous with the bubonic plague and can be seen as a very early iteration of the surgical face mask that we are all so familiar with thanks to Covid 19.

Late in the 19th century, eye protection and foot protection began to become available, but these measures did not protect all workers in industries that needed them (like welding and manufacturing, for instance), as their use was not mandated.

Further along in history, we encounter the first world war, and it seems that this is one of the first and most well-documented cases of PPE use in the form of respirators. During WW1, there was actually widespread use of chemical gases like mustard gas, hence the need for protection against the painful and dangerous effects of this. It would be decades, however, until the use of PPE was written into law around the world.

Where Does Australia Stand with PPE?

So, where does Australia stand with PPE? Well, the answer is simple: if you are an employer, you’re required to provide it to your workers. And if you’re a worker, you’re required to wear said PPE in the correct manner.

That means that no matter your industry, job, or role if you’re a worker that has the potential to come into contact with hazards, you are subject to the Work Health and Safety Act’s laws about PPE.

Whether you’re in the medical field, manufacturing, food processing, hospitality, or even in the sheet metal industry, remember that your personal protective equipment is of the utmost importance to help ensure your safety in the workplace. In fact, if you do work with sheet metal machinery, make sure to read our guide to PPE in the metal workshop.

Bonus Round: What Else Can I do to Promote Safety?

Here at ACRA Machinery, we believe that one of the most crucial ways to promote safety in your workplace is to make sure that you keep up to date with machinery maintenance. We both maintain and repair guillotines, bandsaws, iron workers, press brakes, and laser cutters, just to name a few!

Need machinery maintenance or machinery repair in Melbourne?

At ACRA Machinery, we are proud to offer you the best in machinery maintenance and repair, as well as brilliant customer service and professional expertise. Call us on 03 9794 6675, or fill out our contact form, and we will happily get back to you!