APG – in lieu of Acronym ‘PPE’ for a Safer Workplace

PPE is essentially anything you can wear that will protect you against any hazardous conditions. PPE is important because it prepares you for any health and safety risks and gives you extra protection event of an accident or against the elements. Personal protective equipment (PPE)’ refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garment or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury by blunt impacts electrical hazards, heat, chemicals, and infection, for job-related occupational safety and health purposes, and in sports, martial arts, combat, etc. The terms “protective gear” and “protective clothing” are in many cases interchangeable” protective c l o t h i n g ” is applied to traditional categories of clothing, and “gear” is a more general term and preferably means uniquely protective categories, s u c h a s pads , guard’s, shields, masks, and so on. Police use handcuffs, batons and handguns as PPE. The use of personal protective equipment is to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering a n d administrative controls are not feasible or effective to reduce these risks to acceptable levels. In today’s COVID 19 times, face mask is considered as PPE.

Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as “PPE”3, is equipment worn to minimize exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits. Personal Protective Equipment2 is any device or appliance used to protect parts of the wearer’s body to prevent and/or to minimize the severity of hazard occurrences that may arise during the course of work. This includes appliances used for prevention of head, eye, face, hearing, respiratory, body, foot, hand and finger injuries. Other PPE include devices such as a fall arrest system or a flotation jacket which is able to prevent harm to all parts of the body when exposed to the hazard of falling from heights or immersed in water. PPE to be used shall conform to testing standards and appropriate the work at hand. Where possible, PPE should conform to Singapore Standards. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is barrier protection to be used by an individual to prevent disease transmission.

Fatalities and injuries among the nation’s workers are substantially reduced with the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and technologies. It is estimated that 20 million workers4
use PPE on a regular basis to protect them from job hazards. PPE protects ’workers from death and disabling injuries and illnesses as well as protecting from the specific threats of
exposures to certain airborne biological particles, chemical agents, splashes, noise exposures, fall hazards, head hazards, and fires.

If you have workers handling sharp metal, you get them a standard cut-resistant glove. Pipefitters probably need an impact glove. But not every hazard or job fits into a neat category with easy-to-find PPE. In fact, some jobs and even some workers need new products invented just for them. That’s where appropriate PPE comes in.

Personal protective technologies (PPT) include respirators worn by construction workers and miners; protective clothing, respirators, and gloves worn by firefighters and mine rescue workers;
and respirators and protective clothing worn by healthcare workers. An estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million U.S. workplaces. Respirators are truly not
classified as PPE but as PPT. There are several problems and issues concerning the practical applicability of the term PPE. Personal protective equipment can be uncomfortable to wear, Safety
shoes, aprons, helmets and goggles worn by visitors are not really personal. Gears like helmets and goggles are not really equipment. There are many other examples to highlight that the acronym PPE itself is not suitable when used as hazard communication.

Manufacturers produce products in a standard range of sizes. That’s economical, and it suits most people. But it leaves larger, smaller, and some workers with disabilities, out in the cold. Here comes the appropriate PPE usage.

Let us look into each one of the letters in the acronym PPE.

  • The letter ‘P” as we are familiar for the word Personal should be replaced by either ‘A’ to mention as Appropriate or retain the letter ‘P’ but with the word ‘Practical’.
  • The letter ‘P’ as in Protective could be retained, as it provides a good communication of protection.
  • The letter ‘E’ as in Equipment should be replaced by ‘G’ to reflect that the equipment are really guards, which protects from harm

The acronym APG should be practical, easily understood by all walks of life and reflect the true intention, i.e – protection against hazards.

The letter A chosen instead of ‘P’ means Appropriate. In real terms, we would like to make sure the workforce uses the appropriate protection, rather to reinforce on Personal. When the word Appropriate is used, there is a greater sense of urgency and responsibility on management and employees to decide on what is appropriate to the hazards they encounter rather than to reinforce on ‘Personal’. We already are aware that the protective equipment and gears we use are not strictly personal. Many countries have workforce with different languages. Thus it is very important to reinforce on the word appropriate than the word personal. A as in Appropriate is a better alternate to the letter P as in Personal.

The letter P as in Protective is effective and provides the real intention. It gives a clear message to the user that the guards and equipment are meant to protect. Most of the PPE used such as mask, face cover, eye spectacle, safety over glass/splash goggles, gloves, and face splash shields are often personalized, Hygiene is one aspect considered when using such protective gears.

The letter E as in Equipment is truly not equipment. Equipment refers to something that can be used like gadgets. It is a paradox that we call gloves and helmets as equipment on the same lines as instruments. Any of the protective equipment or gears we use are meant as Guards. Thus the letter E should be replaced with ‘G’ meaning Guards. Guards as a word provides the user the same sense of belonging, ability to highlight the importance of protection, easily spelt and understood and can relate to common practices like machinery guarding. Guard as a word refers to the person protecting the work space.

Thus the acronym PPE should be better renamed as APG.

The acronym PPE has been used for many years and it is time to review the relevance in today’s and tomorrow’s context. Communication, Information, Instruction are key to make workplace safer and healthier. PPE seems to be obsolete and inappropriate to reflect the true intention. The acronym APG is more practical, applicable and provides the true intent to the user. Thus can provide a means to make the workplace safer through effective communication and use.

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