PPE for Maritime Workers

By Nick Warrick

The shipping industry is one of the greatest contributors to the world’s economy, and its workers face the highest workplace risks, including death, on a daily basis. Understanding the reasons behind sea occupational injuries and successfully lowering their frequency benefits both seafarers and shipping companies.

Seafarers have to perform hazardous tasks, such as repairing and patching ships, refloating shipwrecked vessels, and even putting out fires. And they are regularly exposed to airborne particulate matter, biohazards, chemicals, heat and electrical hazards.

A study conducted by a team of researchers from Singapore indicates that the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for seafarers greatly reduces the daily injuries and risks faced by these workers. The study revealed that 4 percent of the workers that had not received proper training on the use of PPE suffer an injury rate as high as 33 percent. Thus, companies have the responsibility of ensuring that their workers have access to the best quality PPE and receive sufficient training on their use.

The use of personal protective equipment also increases work efficiency. For example, if you are working with chemicals, you can easily handle a huge quantity with confidence if you have the right PPE, which serves as the first line of defense against such risks. Protective gear such as eye goggles provides safety against liquid or chemical splash and fumes from vapors. Gloves protect your hands against heat and corrosive substances. A coverall or overall, a.k.a. “boiler suit,” protects the body against hot water, acid and other chemicals.

Other examples of PPE are: a high-quality helmet with a chin strap to protect against head injuries; steel-toed and non-skid shoes to protect the feet; an ear muff to prevent hearing damage; and a welding shield to protect the body.

When choosing PPE, you should consider these factors: the type and level of protection required, functionality, fit, sustainability of material, and comfort and ergonomics. Choosing the right PPE is necessary for the physical and psychological safety of seafarers. Knowing the risks that workers face is key to finding the right protective gear.

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