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Various personal protective equipment

  • Personal protective equipment protects employees from one or several hazards that endanger their safety.
  • An employer shall provide an employee with personal protective equipment at his or her expense.
  • Employees shall be provided with hearing protection if the noise level exceeds 85 db.

Ear muffs and earplugs

Hearing impairment or loss can occur suddenly and quickly. For example, if a person is in the immediate vicinity of the runway of a jet plane, or it can develop slowly and over time. For example, by working without hearing protection in an industry or other noisy place for several years. Even daily work with a petrol-powered lawnmower or lawn tractor is noisy enough to cause hearing damage if appropriate personal protective equipment is not used over a long period of time.

Identifying the need for hearing protection begins with an enterprise’s risk assessment. The noise level in the place of work is measured in the course of the risk assessment and protective equipment with an appropriate level is identified. There are two aspects to consider when mapping noise as a risk factor:

  • noise level
  • and the time spent exposed to it.

Example: the dose of spending 15 minutes exposed to noise of 100 dB(A) is equal to working with noise of 85 dB(A) for 8 hours.

Employees shall be provided with hearing protection if:

  • the noise level exceeds 80 dB (A) and the employee requests it;
  • the noise level exceeds 85 dB.

In the first case, an employee may use protective equipment if he or she so wishes, in the second case its use is mandatory.

The use of hearing protection is mandatory for all work where the noise level exceeds 85 dB (A), such as when working with a metal forming machine or pneumatic hammer and pile ramming.

An employer shall mark the sources of noise and if the noise level exceeds 85 dB, the mandatory sign “Wear hearing protection” shall be installed in a visible place.

When selecting hearing protection, the other extreme should also be kept in mind. If noise is excessively reduced, the employee is cut off from his or her co-workers and working environment and he or she may not hear important acoustic signals. Reasonable level of noise reduction should be up to 70 dB.

The selection of hearing protection equipment starts with answering the following questions:

  • how high is the noise level at the workplace, i.e. noise intensity (dB) and noise frequency (Hz);
  • what is the required damping capacity to bring the noise level to the permissible level (preferably less than 80 dB but not less than 70 dB) – different items of hearing protection equipment have different damping capacities;
  • what is the working environment like (cold, hot, humid, work with chemicals, work with food, dirt, whether the employee needs to communicate with other employees or hear acoustic signals);
  • how long the equipment is used/worn (there is a big difference between needing hearing protection a few times a day, i.e. twenty minutes, or throughout the entire working day;
  • it is important to know whether the noise is temporary or continuous; whether the noise is stable, variable, intermittent, occurs in waves); what the user prefers (there are users whose external part of the ear canal is more sensitive to pressure and they find it more comfortable to wear preluded earplugs, for example, and there are users who wear prescription glasses and therefore constant pressure on the ear lobes causes discomfort or pain, there are occupations and jobs where different items of personal protective equipment are used simultaneously, which shall not interfere with each other or make work and the use of personal protective equipment uncomfortable).

All hearing protection equipment, both ear muffs and earplugs, shall comply with standard EN 352.

If headband ear muffs are used, the connecting band shall not apply too much pressure on the head. The headphones shall fit snugly over the ears, as this is the only way that they are beneficial.

If disposable sanitary ear muff covers are used (these do not impact the sound reduction capacity of the ear muffs and are especially used in a dirty or warm environment), it shall be made sure that they are clean and dry.

 Personal protective equipment shall be replaced with a new set if needed or if it becomes dirty.

After use (usually at the end of the working day), ear muffs shall be cleaned according to the manufacturer's recommendations (the noise reducing part of the most commonly used ear muffs can be washed or replaced if necessary).

Earplugs are items of protective equipment that are used inside the ear (or inserted into the external part of the ear canal) and fall into four different categories:

  • disposable earplugs;
  • reusable special-shaped or premoulded earplugs;
  • metal detectable earplugs;
  • earplugs with a headband or handle.

The cheapest solution is earplugs made of polymer, foam rubber or another foam material that are mainly intended for single use that slowly expand after being inserted into the external part of the ear canal and close the ear canal. They can be conveniently used over a longer period or for an entire working day. Certain models are also reusable.

Earplugs that become dirty after prolonged use can be cleaned of dirt and ear canal irritants by washing them with a mild detergent in warm water. Excess water should be squeezed out and then the earplugs should be dried. If the elasticity of the plugs has changed or they do not return to their original shape, they shall be replaced with new ones.

For use, the earplugs are rolled between two fingers into a thin cylinder and the earplug is firmly placed in the ear canal, pulling the earlobe slightly out and up to widen the ear canal.

Durable, washable, reusable so-called premoulded earplugs are made of silicone and equipped with a slightly longer “tail” for a comfortable fit. They also have a connecting cord attached, which allows you to remove the protective equipment from your ears during breaks in noise and let them hang around your neck, for example. Such earplugs usually come with a storage box or container where you can conveniently store them or carry them in your pocket.

They are used in the same way as disposable earplugs, but the difference is that they do not need to be rolled up.

So-called metal detectable earplugs should also be mentioned. They are used, for example, in the food industry or another field or under conditions where the risk of contamination needs to be taken into account and where foreign objects cannot come in contact with the production. These earplugs can be found with a metal detector

In situations where noise is temporary and/or the user of the protective equipment cannot or does not want to insert the earplugs deep into the ear canal, the most convenient solution is protective equipment made of soft foam that is connected with a headband and which have noise-reducing parts that can be washed and quickly replaced, if necessary. They are comfortable and provide the same level of protection as the earplugs already described. The headband can be used in three ways: over the head like ear muffs, on the back the neck or under the chin. When in use, it is important to keep in mind that the foam rubber muffler shall be pressed tightly against the ear canal.

No matter which earplugs are chosen, they are only useful if they are used as intended.

Safety shoes

Safety shoes are designed to protect the wearer’s feet. In principle, ordinary rubber boots could also be called safety shoes if their properties are marked with the symbol SB and they have a reinforced part, at least in the toe area. In the past, safety shoes were often uncomfortable and heavy. This was mainly due to the metal toe protection and metal used to ensure that the sole is puncture-proof. Modern safety shoes can be worn comfortably throughout the working day (and longer), look very chic and are significantly lighter, as composite material is used for the nose and puncture-proof soles are made of Kevlar or similar material.

Safety shoes are mainly classified as:

  • footwear with puncture-proof soles to be used, for example, in road construction, on-site work (scaffolding work, concrete work, installation of prefabricated parts, construction and demolition of formwork, etc.) and roofing work;
  • protective shoes with regular soles to be used, for example, for steel structure installation, in a mast, tower and crane and in works related to a large tank and pipeline, furnace construction, heating and ventilation system installation, metal assembly work, earthworks, shipbuilding, tree felling, transport and railroad work.

Protective shoes with insulating soles (designated HIheat-insulating and CI – cold-insulating and HRO high-temperature resistant) shall be worn when working on hot and/or cold surfaces, and quickly removable safety shoes shall be worn for work where there is a risk of a melted substance penetrating the shoe.

Safety shoes with acid-proof soles shall be used in an acidic environment (the soles shall comply with standard EN-13832-1) and shoes with electrically insulating soles shall comply with standard EN-50321.

The markings that should be kept in mind when buying safety shoes are listed in the table below.


safety shoe with basic safety which withstands an impact of 200 J and can withstand a load of 15000 N, + oil-resistant sole


SB + heel shock absorption and antistatic properties


S1 + waterproof top (up to 4 hours)


S2 + puncture-proof sole

P = puncture-proof sole, E = heel shock absorption, WRU = waterproof upper, HRO = heat-resistant sole, HI = heat insulation, CI = cold insulation, A = antistatic

The unit of energy joule (J) used in the above-mentioned standard indicates the impact energy, which depends on the mass of the falling object and the height of fall, i.e. a heavy object falling from a low height on the reinforced nose contains less energy than a light object falling from a large height. 200 J means that about 20 kg falls from a height of 1 metre.

Low work shoes are mostly used in Estonia and do not protect the ankles or support the foot sufficiently, and therefore foot injuries and dislocations often occur. In some parts of the world, in general construction, infrastructure and other similar work, either half-boots or boots are required, and low safety shoes are only allowed in indoor work and light industry.

When purchasing protective shoes, consider the risks arising from the specifics of the work and think about if, for example, sandals, offer sufficient protection and are suitable to be used in field work.

Finding proper non-slip shoes is quite difficult, as a large variety of products are offered in stores as non-slip shoes. Often, the product description contains phrases such as “improves grip” or “non-slip”, but there is no explanation or reference to situations where these shoes are non-slip.

It is first necessary to specify the situation where slip resistance needs to be improved when working. Whether there is ice and snow or the surface is greasy, oily or otherwise slippery.

Some universal non-slip shoes are not suitable for certain conditions. For example, footwear that serves its purpose on a wet surface may not be suitable for an oily surface. The grips used on snow and ice may increase the risk of slipping on a smooth and hard floor.

The pattern of the sole is important in ensuring slip resistance, but this is not the only factor. A robust and deep pattern may provide a good grip outdoors, on muddy or snowy surfaces, but may not be sufficient indoors on wet surfaces or floors soiled by chemicals, where a soft sole and small pattern are a better choice. It is very important to remember that if the sole is excessively worn, it may significantly impact the slip resistance.

“Oil-resistant” does not have the same meaning as “non-slip”. The former means that oil does not damage the soles, the latter refers to the non-slip property of the shoes in certain conditions. Additives are added to the sole material of the shoe that ensure slip resistance in contact with certain substances.

The slip resistance of work shoes is tested in accordance with EN ISO 20344:2004. Shoes that have passed the slip resistance test are marked with the code SRA, SRB or SRC. Pay attention to this when purchasing shoes.

The codes indicate that the footwear meets the prescribed requirements as follows:

  • SRA – slip resistance is tested on a ceramic tile which has been saturated with soap,
  • SRB – tested on a steel plate which has been saturated with glycerol,
  • SRC – tested on both of the abovementioned surfaces.

If the assessment of the workplace and the conditions reveals that an employee has to use safety shoes with non-slip soles suitable for the specific conditions (for example, in a workplace where floors have to be washed and disinfected frequently), then such shoes shall be purchased (for example, class SRA). However, if it is revealed that the employee also needs to go outdoors, which is slippery in winter, purchasing removable non-slip soles could be considered.

Suitability of safety shoes:

  • Walk around in the new shoes to make sure they are comfortable.
  • The shoes or boots should have enough room for your toes.
  • When purchasing safety shoes, also take into account wearing thicker socks.
  • The boots should be comfortable around the heel and ankle.
  • Tie the laces (zips, hoop and loop fasteners, etc.) of the shoe completely.
  • Tall boots support the foot better and help prevent ankle injuries.

Maintenance of safety shoes:

  • Footwear shall be kept clean and dry during the non-working hours;
  • In the case of field work, a footwear protection spray (for leather footwear) should be used to ensure water resistance and stability;
  • If necessary, safety shoes shall be disinfected;
  • Footwear should be checked regularly. As different safety shoes are used in different work environments, there is no single procedure for checking all of them. Above all, the manufacturer’s recommendations shall be followed.
  • In the case of footwear with a reinforced nose, make sure that the toe protection is intact. This is easy to detect if the nose is made of metal, as metal that has received a strong impact does not restore its original form. However, it is much more difficult with composite material, as a composite material may retain its original shape and still have cracks.
  • The soles should be cleaned and checked for wear and damage – shoes with a puncture-proof sole are waterproof only as long as you step on, for example, a nail. Your foot will probably not be injured but there is a hole in the shoe which is nearly invisible that does not ensure water resistance from then on.
  • Sole pattern wear – resistance to electric shock is reduced when shoes are worn and/or used in wet conditions;
  • Check whether the laces, zips, buttons and similar fasteners of the safety shoes are intact and in working order.
  • Worn or broken shoes should be repaired or replaced.

Removable non-slip accessories for footwear

Ice grips attached to regular shoes are most commonly used to prevent slipping on snow and ice. Some are attached to the entire sole and others only have grips in the ball or heel area. All of them are quite comfortable to use and do not take much space when they are removed if an employee goes indoors. Such soles are made with both aluminium and steel grips. The former are almost 4 times cheaper, but their lifespan is also significantly shorter.

If employees and guests have to be in conditions (indoors) where it is only necessary to wear non-slip soles occasionally, slip-resistant overshoes that are attached to the ordinary shoe and provide slip resistance and toe protection can be used. These shoes are also a good solution if an enterprise has many visitors and they need to be allowed to enter a slippery environment but it is not possible to acquire, maintain and store a large number of safety shoes for several reasons.

As with any personal protective equipment, removable non-slip accessories shall be maintained and cleaned from time to time. Prior to use, make sure that the grips are sufficiently long and intact and that the straps are free from cracks and tears. The user shall ensure that the non-slip accessories are firmly attached to the shoe.

Protective helmet and impact resistant hat

Helmets are not intended to amuse or harass anyone. Newton’s law of gravity and other laws of physics apply to everyone and are the reason for wearing a helmet. A helmet is designed to protect the wearer’s head.

Wearing a safety helmet is mandatory in areas where there is a risk of head injury due to the work process, such as work in high workplaces, work on ladders and scaffolding (including installing and dismantling scaffolding), work with lifting equipment (including in the working range of a crane), but also in mining, open diggings (including wells and ditches), shipbuilding, tree felling, slaughterhouses, and heavy industry.

The mandatory helmet shall comply with the requirements of standard EN 397, which defines the characteristics of an industrial helmet. It is designed to protect the wearer from brain damage and/or skull fracture caused by falling objects and, if necessary, from electric shock.

The weight of a helmet usually ranges from between 300 and 360 g (a set for forest workers, which includes a helmet, ear muffs, a mesh visor and a rain cover, weighs about 660 g).

An adjustable helmet with a strap tensioner should be selected, as this ensures its fast and convenient adjustment even if a hat needs to be worn underneath (for example if the helmet needs to be used indoors and outdoors with an extra hat during the winter). The tensioner helps to adjust the helmet so that the helmet stays on the head even when you have to bend or tilt your head, and also when the helmet does not have straps that would hold it in place under the chin and help prevent the helmet from falling off.

Helmets with a UV indicator at the nape of the neck should be mentioned separately. Their red colour will fade as a result of UV radiation over time. As long as the indicator is still significantly red and the helmet is not damaged, you can use the helmet and be sure that its plastic has not become brittle and it will still protect your head in the case of an accident. Although helmets with a UV indicator cost more than a regular helmet, a few calculations allow manufacturers to claim that, legally, this type of helmet can be used 3–4 times longer than a so-called regular helmet, if stored properly.

The manufacturer’s instructions for helmets with a UV indicator allow the helmet to be used in most cases for approximately 3 years as from the date of commissioning or up to 5 years as from the date of manufacture.

The colour of the helmet is not significant in Estonia. Above all, the conditions and duties of the person wearing the helmet should be considered when selecting a helmet:

  • whether ear muffs, a headlamp, a different visor, a two-, three- or four-point chinstrap, etc. can be attached to the helmet;
  • whether the wearer of the helmet prefers a helmet with a shorter bill, or one that could also be used backwards so that the bill does not interfere with the use of a level gauge or theodolite by a geodetic surveyor, for example.

Using a helmet

  • Avoid storing the helmet in the sun during non-working hours.
  • When wearing a helmet, make sure it fits tightly and firmly on your head.
  • It is not recommended to stick or draw anything on the helmet, as the adhesive of the stickers and the marker ink may contain solvents that may affect the properties of the helmet; if the helmet gets dirty, wash it with water and a mild soap solution and dry it.
  • If the helmet falls from a height or is otherwise damaged, it should be replaced with a functioning helmet.

If, for some reason, the date on which the helmet is put into service is not known or the date of manufacture cannot be read from the helmet, the helmet’s sides may be compressed with moderate force or the bill may be bent to inspect the helmet. If a cracking noise is heard or cracks appear on the helmet during the test, the safety equipment has reached the end of its useful life and it shall be discarded (i.e. replaced with a new one).

An impact-resistant hat or a bicycle helmet does not replace a helmet.

An impact-resistant hat or a bump cap is made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or plastic and has a comfortable Styrofoam structure. It is similar to a baseball cap, with a bill, and is designed to soften blows. An impact-resistant hat does not have a so-called cushioning or damping system like a helmet does.

An impact-resistant hat is intended to protect the head from small bumps and/or bruises that can be caused by ceilings that are too low or low-hanging objects in the workplaces and in any field of activity where there is risk of hitting the head due to a lack of space, such as maintenance of ventilation equipment, mechanical work, electrical and installation work, car repairs, working on lifting machinery (but not in handling of loads), on various assembly lines, in warehouses, interior fitting, on board ships, etc.

Wearing an impact-resistant hat is always recommended in a situation where wearing a helmet is not mandatory but injuries may still occur. Although the small cuts, bumps and bruises are minor and do not require visiting a hospital or emergency room, they still take up working time or are inconvenient. It should also be worn in other places where the head needs protection from shocks and scratches.

NB! An impact-resistant hat does not protect the wearer from falling objects or low-hanging weights. The hat shall not be used in places where the use of a helmet is required.

The weight of a bump cap is usually between 200 and 230 grams. An impact-resistant hat shall comply with standard EN 812 and this is also marked on the product.

Kiivri ja löögikindla mütsi vastupidavust kajastav tabel aitab mõista kahte eri tüüpi isikukaitsevahendi olulisi erinevusi.

Shock absorption

EN 397 – helmet

EN 812 – bump cap

falling height used in the test

1 metre

0.25 metres

maximum permissible residual impact force

5 kilonewtons

15 kilonewtons

force used in testing

49 joules

12 joules

the shape and weight of the impactor used during the test

50 mm radius, spherical, 5 kg

100 mm diameter, flat, 5 kg




falling height used in the test

1 metre

0.5 metres

force used in testing

29 joules

2.5 joules

the mass of the body used for impact in the test 3 kg 0.5 kg

Protective gloves

In a working environment, hands can be injured in various ways – bruises, cuts, burns, chemicals, etc. No glove can protect the hands in all possible situations, which is why it is important to evaluate the risk on a case-by-case basis and select gloves that provide sufficient protection for that specific work.

Gloves should always be used for welding, handling of sharp objects (except when working with equipment where gloves may get stuck), working with acids and alkali, plant protection work and deboning and cutting meat, using a knife to process carcasses, and changing the blades of work equipment and machines.

In general, protective gloves can be classified as disposable (e.g. some latex gloves, surgical gloves, etc.) and reusable (most protective gloves) and further into three categories depending on the type and protective properties:

Category 1 – only provides protection in low-risk conditions. This category includes household gloves that protect against detergents, dishwashing detergents and cleaning agents and gloves that protect against objects with a temperature not exceeding + 50 °C. Other gloves in this category can be used for lighter work, such as gardening.

Category 2 – all gloves not included in category 1 or 3. This includes gloves that can be used as long as the hazard is not classified as low or too high. This category includes gloves that protect against mechanical hazards according to EN 388 and against cold or heat damage according to EN 407.

Category 3 – protects against dangerous hazards in hazardous environments. Gloves in this category protect against serious and permanent damage, such as handling aggressive chemicals. To protect your hands from aggressive substances/chemicals, gloves that comply with EN 374-3 should be selected. Prior to use, read the safety data sheet to ensure that the material of the glove protects against the substance being handled and to determine how long the glove material will last in an aggressive environment. It should be borne in mind that manufacturers describe the resistance of materials only in the case of pure chemicals and not in exposure to different mixtures of substances.

To put it simply, there are four main factors that should be used to decide which gloves to use for a particular job:

  • type of hazard (chemical, physical, etc.);
  • duty (for example, an electrician, a painter and a welder all need to protect their hands, however, their work is completely different and so they also need different gloves);
  • peculiarities of the user (size and suitability, state of health, etc., including allergies such as to latex), conditions in the workplace (ergonomics, temperature, wet or dry, etc.).

All of the aforementioned factors need to be considered together, not separately, as their interaction is important. Good and proper gloves should fit well and be comfortable, not too loose or tight.

A brief overview of the most commonly used gloves

  • Cotton and fabric gloves keep your hands clean and protect against scratches and abrasions, but may not be strong enough to provide protection in the case of harder work or sharp materials.
  • Coated fabric gloves can provide protection against moderately concentrated chemicals. They can be used in laboratory work if they are strong enough to protect against a particular chemical.
  • Rubber, plastic or synthetic gloves can be used for cleaning or working with oils, solvents, and other chemicals. Leather gloves are used for welding because leather can withstand sparks and moderate heat. The risk of wounds and abrasions can also be reduced by wearing leather gloves.
  • Aluminium-coated gloves are recommended for welding, casting and smelting work as they provide heat reflecting and insulating protection.
  • Kevlar gloves have a variety of industrial applications. They are cut- and wear-resistant and protect against both heat and cold.
  • Gloves made of metal mesh or equipped with metal mesh are mainly used in the meat and fish industry for cutting and processing and for changing the blades of a cutting machine.

Gloves resistant to chemicals/liquids protect against specific chemicals:

  • butyl rubber gloves: for example, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid;
  • natural latex rubber gloves: water or acids, alkalis, salts and ketones;
  • neoprene gloves: hydraulic fluids, gasoline, alcohols and organic acids;
  • nitrile rubber gloves: chlorinated solvents.

Use of protective gloves

Before commencing work, make sure that the gloves are intact, suitable for the work to be performed, and comfortable. After work, depending on the type of work and the gloves, they should be cleaned, washed or disposed of. Reusable gloves should be replaced with new ones if they become old, excessively soiled, damaged, or torn.

The main standards describing the properties of work and protective gloves are:

EN 388 – Standard describing mechanical strength. The product shall be marked with a 4-digit code below the (hammer) pictogram, each number indicating the resistance of the glove to wear, cut, tear or puncture and giving an estimate between 1 and 4 (except for cut resistance, which is rated between 1 and 5) where higher numbers indicate a better result;

EN 420 – General requirements for gloves;

EN 407 – Standard for the description of heat- and flame-resistant gloves. The relevant properties of the gloves shall be indicated below the small (flame) pictogram with a number between 1 and 6, where a higher number indicates higher heat resistance;

EN 374 – Describes gloves that provide protection against chemical and microbiological agents;

EN 60903 – Standard to describe electrical insulating gloves, with a value for voltage resistance indicated by the numbers 00 to 4 and the higher the number, the higher the voltage the gloves can withstand;

EN 10819 – This standard refers to protective gloves against vibration (200 Hz to 1250 Hz vibration reduction by up to 40%).

Safety goggles

Goggles are intended to protect the wearer’s eyes, not to amuse the supervisor or salesperson or to take work away from eye surgeons.

The selection of goggles should be based on works and procedures that may endanger the person performing them. Personal eye protection shall comply with standard EN 166 to ensure adequate protection. Personal eye protection shall always be used for work where there is a risk of injury to eyes or face, i.e. at least for the following:

  • welding, forging, grinding, drilling, turning and milling;
  • work with or near melted substance (including the plastics and glass industry);
  • stone processing and blasting;
  • work with a power spanner or screwdriver (including, for example, cordless drill);
  • working with a nail gun;
  • blasting of abrasive substances and liquids (including, for example, sandblasting, soda-blasting, gunite, putty or plaster blasting, work with construction foam, etc.);
  • work with acids, alkali, disinfectants and rust removers, and crop protection work; direct heat radiation work, laser work.

Eye protection can be divided into three main types:

Safety glasses are nowadays predominantly made of light polycarbonate. For some models, the angle of the glasses and the length of the handles can be adjusted, which makes it possible to tailor the glasses to different face shapes or circumstances.

Many modern glasses have a UV filter. It is a good idea to buy safety glasses with anti-fog coating that also provide better scratch resistance.

Safety goggles have the best protective properties and a good design; they have a wide, open field of vision and a synthetic rubber edge, which improves the comfort and fit of the glasses against the face; they large enough to fit on top of prescription glasses without feeling cumbersome and uncomfortable.

A face shield visor is a transparent visor that protects the entire or half of the face and is made of dense metal mesh or polycarbonate, depending on the intended use. The face shield visor usually consists of an adjustable head frame and, if necessary, a part that protects the forehead from impact. Some sets have ear muffs (an example is working with a trimmer without a helmet). Some visors are designed for use with a helmet (integrated).

You can make initial conclusions for the selection of PPE by looking at the images below and thinking about your work and activities.

The photos illustrate the effectiveness of the various personal protective equipment required to protect the eyes. In all instances, dye was sprayed from a distance of 0.5 m for 4–5 seconds in the test. The following is indicated from left to right – prescription glasses, the most commonly used safety glasses, and goggles.

If the use of safety glasses is not required throughout the working day, the glasses shall be worn at least for work involving the risk that dust or foreign bodies come into contact with the eyes, as well as for all work using electric or pneumatic tools (e.g. circular cutter, plate saw, circular saw, electric drill, etc.). In addition, in cases where you are exposed to hazardous chemicals or there are other risks that something could come into contact your eyes and cause injury.

If the glasses become dirty or dusty, choose a safe place to take them off and clean them. Although the procedure does not take long, hazards in the workplace can cause eye injury. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when maintaining the glasses. Either use warm water or a special cleaning agent and cleaning cloth depending on how soiled the glasses are.

Safety glasses do not last forever. They should be replaced if the glasses become scratched or damaged or the frames are damaged.

When working in areas where abrasive substances and liquids (e.g. sandblasting, soda-blasting, gunite, putty or plaster blasting, work with construction foams, etc.), acids, alkalis and disinfectants and rust removers are sprayed, or in crop protection work, wear safety glasses that fit snugly around the face and prevent splashes from coming into contact with the eyes. These are safety goggles that have the best protective properties and a good design with a wide, open field of vision and a synthetic rubber edge, which improves the comfort and fit of the glasses against the face and are large enough to fit on top of prescription glasses without feeling cumbersome and uncomfortable.

It is reasonable to use these goggles, for example, in pouring concrete, where there is contact with a chemical – the so-called cement milk which is alkaline and corrosive in contact with the eyes. In this work, there is also the risk that the hose will break while pumping concrete if it gets clogged and that components of the concrete, including pebbles and sand, which are released under pressure of more than 75 bar, can strike the eyes, causing serious injury.

There is such a wide selection of safety glasses that anyone who wants to protect his or her eyes should find a suitable option. When choosing glasses, it is also helpful to know that the glass (and also the frame) of the safety glasses has a combination of numbers on them that describes the properties of the glasses. Impact resistance is probably the most important. The following table gives an overview of this.



Description of the impact force


Safety goggles

Visor, protective mask

S on the lens

Increased strength, 12 m/s




F on the frame and on the lens

Low impact force, 45 m/s




B on the frame and on the lens

Average impact force, 120 m/s




A on the frame and on the lens

High impact force, 190 m/s





The shape of the face should be considered when purchasing safety glasses. Safety glasses are not worn to look beautiful or cool. Some people have a wider face, others a narrower face, for some, glasses with longer handles are better and others, shorter handles are more comfortable. Safety glasses should not interfere with performing work.

The position (angle) of the glasses can be changed for some glasses to ensure optimal eye protection. In most cases, the length of the handles can also be adjusted.

If you work with safety glasses all day and also use hearing protection, it would be a good idea to select glasses with straight handles instead of ones that are bent behind the ears. This will not make the pressure of the ear muffs uncomfortable. It is also important to wear safety glasses for seemingly safe work and in cases where the glasses may become fogged due to (summer) heat. So-called OTG (over-the-glass) safety glasses (similar to safety goggles) can be worn by people who wear prescription glasses, as these safety glasses fit over your glasses. The most convenient solution is a visor or half mask that covers the prescription glasses and protects them from breaking.

Safety harness and position belt

In situations where work needs to be performed at heights, in places where there is a risk of falling, where, for some reason, it is not possible to ensure the safety of employees with collective protective equipment, such as fencing, hole covers, etc., safety harnesses or position belts shall be used to ensure safety and prevent falls.

The difference between these two types of PPE mainly lies in their functionality. A position belt mainly either helps to maintain an employee’s working position or restricts his or her movement, as a result the employee cannot get into a place where there is a risk of falling or fall from a height when used correctly. Position belts shall not be used as fall protection equipment. In the case of correct use, safety harnesses enable free movement. If an employee still falls from a height, he or she will be left hanging and the injuries are much smaller. The use of safety harnesses should always be preferred.

Safety harnesses should be used:

  • in places where there is a risk of falling;
  • in the frame stage of a construction – employees performing assembly work and auxiliary employees, in roofing work, in telescopic and articulated boom lifts, during assembly and disassembly of scaffolding.
  • work in a tower.

The system of ready-to-use PPE intended for work at height includes:

  • body harness;
  • anchor line / connector;
  • fall arrest lanyard with built-in energy absorber (or a decelerator);
  • an anchorage (anchor).

The main role of a harness is to maintain a safe dynamic distribution of the body weight in the event of a fall. The design of the harness should be such that it would be safe to wait for assistance. The requirements for safety harnesses as personal protective equipment are described in standard EN 361. Depending on the type of work and need, you can choose only a harness or a harness together with a vest or overalls. Position belts are also often classified under harnesses, but they can only be used in limited cases, as a positioning belt, as mentioned above, is only intended to limit an employee’s range of movement and not protect against falls.

A safety line or rope is a part of the system and connects the safety harness to the anchorage. In the event of a fall, the safety line stops free falling. If the length of the rope needs to be constantly adjusted, it is wise to use a retrieval block or retractable lanyard. The retrieval block also ensures more comfortable movement in the workplace.

A rigid guided-type connector should correspond to standard EN 353-1 and a flexible guided-type connector to standard EN353-2. Belts and lanyards for work positioning or restraint should correspond to standard EN 358 and retractable lanyards to standard EN 360.

The condition of the harness, safety rope, fall arrester and retrieval block should be checked before use.

Before using the equipment, read the operating instructions of the retrieval block, as there are various recommendations for the location of the anchorage.

An integral part of the safety rope is a fall arrester or decelerator. This part of the system must dampen the impact when the fall is completely stopped. The fall arrester absorbs kinetic energy and limits the impact to a safe level (less than 6 kN) to eliminate a life-threatening situation at the moment of stopping (if an average person falls at a height of about 0.5 m, a force comparable to about 1600 kg is applied to the body if it stops abruptly). The fall arrester should comply with standard EN 355.

NB! In order for the fall arrester to be applied safely, it is necessary to ensure safe application distance (determined by the total length of the fall arrester, the length of the safety line, the location of the anchorage, the working height from the ground and the height of the person).

The anchorage can be permanent (e.g. a horizontal steel pipe or rail system, anchor post) or mobile (e.g. a safety stand, a textile horizontal anchor rope, a steel wire rope, a webbing sling, etc.). The anchorages should be connected to parts of the permanent structure which are sufficiently stable and durable. A product that complies with standard EN 795 is suitable to be used as anchorage. An anchorage and the length and type of the rope is selected according to the height of falling and work performed.

A one-person connector or retractable lanyard can be attached to any structure that can withstand a 100 kg body falling from a height of 2.5 metres or a load of 12 kN (comparable to a weight of 1200 kg) over 3 minutes. The best location is directly above the employee. Attaching the anchorage next to the employee can cause swinging in the event of a fall.

The choice of safety harnesses should be based on:

  • the nature of the work – if the employee has to use the harness on a daily basis and throughout the working day, it is reasonable to purchase personal protective equipment with wider straps and several attachment points with more convenient adjustment options and fasteners;
  • the working environment – in the case of work with fire, where the risk of damage to the harness is quite high, flame-retardant harnesses should be chosen, which are made of Kevlar and marked accordingly (different manufacturers use different markings);
  • the measurements of the user – just like clothes, safety harnesses also come in different sizes, i.e. larger sizes for larger persons (e.g. XL) and smaller sizes for smaller persons (e.g. M).

In some falls, injuries due to the improper use of the harness can be severe and lead one to think that without the harness the consequences may have been milder (e.g. insufficiently tightened (thigh) straps, incorrectly selected anchorage, wrong or too long safety line, etc.). Thus, when using safety harnesses, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide the user with the necessary training and safety instruction. Safety instruction shall include information on the hazards and situations that may be involved and the measures to be taken and instructions on how to act in the event of an accident. The use of equipment to prevent falls requires good theoretical knowledge, as well as practical skills and an enterprise may not have an employee who could train a new employee. It is therefore a good idea to organise training to employees who use fall protection equipment by involving an outside specialist.

Enterprises specialised in the sale of safety equipment can provide good advice and assistance for selecting and using PPE.

Work that requires the use of body harnesses should never be performed alone. If the place of work is located in an area where there is a risk of falling and using a safety harness is required, work must be performed in pairs to ensure prompt assistance in the event of a fall.

Before using a harness, safety line or retrieval block and carbine and attaching them to the anchorage, make sure that they are intact and in working order. The selection of connector length and anchorage should take into account the space for free fall under the workstation.

Security harness reminder ABCDE

Before using the harness, consider and check the following:

A – Anchor Point

B – Body Harness

C – Connector

D – Decelerator / Fall Arrest

E – Effective Rescue in the case something goes wrong

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Fall protection equipment should be taken care of in the same way as any work equipment. It must be cleaned after use and washed, if needed, with household soap and water and dried. It is recommended to store the harness in a dry room protected from direct sunlight and to have it regularly inspected by an authorised specialist according to the manufacturer’s recommendations (usually once a year). Even seemingly small injuries (such as a hole caused by a spark, tears in the seam, stiffness of the harness caused by an open flame, etc.) can reduce the properties of the fall protection equipment and the protection provided.