PPE — Combined Protection Products — Compliant, Compatible, Certified?
To provide confidence that a piece of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is going to provide an acceptable level of protection, the user needs to assess the claimed performance of the gear to determine if it is suitable for the targeted application.
The most common way to do this in Australia and New Zealand is to look for product performance that is compliant with the relevant Australian/New Zealand PPE related Standards, as applicable to that type of PPE. A combined protection PPE unit may contain various elements that are assessed and designed for use in a combination type product, and maybe also by itself.
Any reputable manufacturer/supplier of PPE products should be able to provide evidence of their advertised claims to a purchaser by means of a certificate of conformance or test results or similar verification that the product is compliant to the stated Standard at some level or rating. The product should be marked as specified by the relevant Standard to indicate the rating(s) or code(s) to allow the potential user to make the correct selection of a product, which may have several variants for different tasks, eg, clear or tinted visors.
In some cases (note this step is not a required element by any government regulation or the PPE Standards), the manufacturer/supplier may additionally seek independent certification from a 3rd party company. This will assess and audit the manufacture, testing and ongoing performance of the product to ensure quality and consistency of performance over time. Products with this certification will commonly have a mark or endorsement on them or their packaging to allow the potential purchaser to see that this overview function is occurring.
3M makes products that are designed to combine and give protection against a range of hazards that can occur in the workplace. A clear example would be an industrial safety helmet with added eye/face and hearing protection. The helmet will meet the requirements of AS/NZS 1801, the visor will meet the requirements of AS/NZS 1337.1, and the earmuffs will meet the requirements of AS/NZS 1270. Each of these standards will assess relevant performances, eg, impact, heat effects, optical clarity, noise attenuation, etc, as appropriate and rate these accordingly.
Helmets can protect from heat to certain limits, from impact and penetration from above or from the side, as well as being electrically insulating. The helmet can be designed to carry accessories to cover other hazards. This can include options like a clear or tinted visor of appropriate size and thickness to give protection from high speed particles, sparks, excess light and radiation while giving good field of view, head and neck coverage and high optical quality to allow the wearer to see while on the job. Helmets can also carry earmuffs to provide hearing protection for noisy tasks and can also provide communication options to mobile phones or into two-way radio networks. By selecting products that are designed to fit and work together, the user can be simultaneously protected against a range of different hazards with an assembled product to give reliable operation and practical interconnectivity.
Where accessories are being used, they should be fully compatible to the safety helmet worn. There are a wide range of accessories which can be fitted to a safety helmet to make it more suitable for variable working conditions. Examples of accessories are chinstraps, face shields, earmuffs and miners lamp brackets. Care should be taken to ensure that any accessories attached to the safety helmet are compatible. Each component is designed for durability and ease of use together. Advanced protection from a leader in safety.
For more information, go to 3M.com.au/ppesafety or call Customer Service on 1300 363 565.
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