Protecting the Five Senses at Work
It goes without saying that it’s important to take care of your body. You only have one, after all, so it only makes sense that you keep it in good shape so you can do anything and everything you want or need.
For those who are part of the labour force, protecting the body becomes even more crucial. Your physical condition can have serious effects on your strength, energy levels, and your capability to concentrate.
The five senses, in particular, should be prioritised. They collect information about the environment, allowing the human body to respond accordingly. Losing even just one of the five senses can hamper the way you work.
(Of course, this is not to say that differently abled persons can’t earn their own living because they absolutely can!)
Fortunately, there are several laws that require employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees. There are also health and safety training courses that both individuals and companies can invest in to reap the following benefits and more:
- reduced incidence of injury and sickness at work
- promote a positive health and safety culture
- boost morale and motivation
- improve productivity and save costs
With all of these said, let’s now delve into the different ways you can adequately protect the five senses when you’re at work.
For the Eyes
Those who work office-based jobs usually don’t need protective eyewear. However, it’s important to take breaks and let the eyes rest. Doing this will help prevent eye strain and even headaches caused by staring at a computer screen for too long.
For those in construction, chemical manufacturing, and other similar industries, safety goggles are the bare minimum. These personal protective equipment (PPE) will prevent debris and harmful fumes from getting into the eyes.
There are also times when a face shield or a visor is required or recommended to protect other parts of the face such as the forehead and cheeks from particles and splashes of hazardous liquids.
Meanwhile, hairnets and hair bands can keep sweat, debris, and mist that can cling to the hair and transfer onto the eyes. Finally, hard hats add another layer of eye protection by helping deflect debris coming from above.
For the Ears
Earmuffs or earplugs are necessary for jobs with high noise levels to prevent hearing loss. Do note that the right size matters to receive ample protection. Employers must also ensure that workers know how to fit or wear ear muffs or earplugs properly so that they don’t get removed by accident.
Finally, the chosen ear protectors should be able to block or reduce noise but still allow some sounds to pass through. This way, the employees who wear them can still communicate while working.
For the Nose
COVID-19 has underscored the importance of mask-wearing to help reduce or stop the spread of contagious diseases. This is a good habit to continue. Indeed, depending on the situation (e.g., during health crises), wearing face masks in high-risk locations might be the wise thing to do.
Meanwhile, there are workplaces that absolutely require face coverings. For example, industry professionals who are working with asbestos must wear respirators with a good facial seal and high-efficiency filters. On the other hand, those who work at hospitals are required to wear surgical masks, N95 masks, or other face coverings, depending on the department they’re working in.
The bottom line here is that if you’re working in an area or an industry where you’re exposed to fine particles and hazardous fumes, you’re going to have to wear some form of nose covering.
For the Mouth
Your sense of taste probably won’t affect the way you do your job, but it’s nonetheless important to also protect your mouth, tongue, and throat. Thankfully, masks also extend their protection down to your mouth so you’re pretty much covered in this regard. With a well-fitting mask, you won’t accidentally swallow harmful or infectious debris or liquids.
For the Skin
The level of protection you need for your skin again depends on the kind of you’re you’re doing. Some might require only long rubber gloves, while others might need a full-on medical-grade PPE. Some workers might be required to wear hazmat suits, such as when they are handling contagious or hazardous materials.
There are also times when certain PPEs aren’t ideal. For example, if you’re operating machinery like a bench drill, gloves aren’t recommended because they can get caught in the rotating parts of the equipment.
Other kinds of skin protection include the following:
- boiler suits
- chemical suits
- clean-room suits
Ultimately, the PPE you need will depend on the kinds of hazards that you encounter. These include heat, chemicals, metal particles, dust, and the like.
Other Protective Gear and Safety Tips
Protective shoes with reinforced toe caps, waterproof shoes, non-slip shoes, anti-static shoes, foundry boots, and other kinds of safety footwear may also be needed in some workplaces. Again, it will all depend on the risks involved.
You should also remember to wash your hands properly or use the right kind of hand sanitiser to prevent diseases from spreading. Remember that you’re touching multiple objects and surfaces every day, and you don’t know what kinds of germs they’re carrying.
If your job requires you to sit or maintain one position for extended periods, take breaks to stretch or walk around a bit to prevent muscle strain. Last but certainly not least, remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain proper hydration.