5 Pieces of PPE to Maximize Operator Safety

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

General selection of personal protective equipment

When it comes to operator safety, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is a widely overlooked part of daily operation. Failure to use PPE can lead to severe injuries to the operator or accidents that can cause damage to equipment. That’s why it’s important to ensure that every operator is using the correct gear before they start operating their equipment. For new operators, it can be difficult to know which PPE is required for certain equipment. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 5 key pieces of PPE that should be used with any equipment. By using these items, operators will greatly reduce the risk of safety incidents without compromising comfort or productivity.

1. Eye Protection

When operating a forklift, telehandler, or other large equipment, operators need to be able to see their surroundings. If dust, debris, or fluids come into contact with an operators eyes, their vision is immediately compromised. This can lead to accidental collisions with shelves, materials, other equipment, or even personnel. That’s why it’s important to ensure that every operator is wearing proper eye protection. This can take the form of safety goggles, corrective lenses, or glasses that can be worn over existing eye wear. Proper eye protection enhances safety without compromising vision, so there is no reason for an operator not to wear it.

2. Hard Hat

Regardless of the application or environment, a hard hat is often a required item for all personnel on the job. This is especially true for operations with high shelves, multiple levels, and many moving materials. Though most equipment features a FOPS/ROPS to protect the operator, they should still wear a hard hat during operation. In the event of an accident or tip-over, the hard hat can protect the operator’s head from impact. It can also protect the operator from falling materials if they’re using equipment without FOPS/ROPS such as a MEWP.

3. Steel-Toed Boots

When hauling heavy materials or operating heavy equipment, steel-toed boots are a necessity. Also known as steel-capped boots, this footwear is mandatory for most operations. These shoes prevent or mitigate foot and toe injuries that may be caused by heavy equipment or materials. Failure to wear proper foot protection can result in crushing injuries that can leave operators sidelined for months. Many operations offer reimbursement options for steel-toed boots, making them an easy addition to any operator’s safety equipment.

4. Gloves

Forklifts, telehandlers, MEWPs, and other equipment tend to require many fluids, oils, and other liquids for safe operation. If these fluids make prolonged contact with skin, they can cause severe irritation or even corrosion. Some of these fluids can also be accidentally transferred to equipment controls after maintenance, making them slippery. By wearing high-grip gloves, operators can safely control their equipment while mitigating the risk of fluid contact with their skin. Gloves can also protect the operator’s hands from the elements, making them ideal for colder climates. Many gloves on the market are “high-dexterity”, ensuring that they provide protection without compromising the ability to perform precise movements. This means that gloves offer multiple safety benefits without compromising productivity or comfort.

5. High-Visibility Clothing

This final piece of PPE is arguably the most important. Every member of an operation should be wearing some form of high-visibility clothing. This often takes the form of a vest or jacket, making it easy to wear over existing clothes. By wearing high-visibility clothing, operators can easily spot other personnel, even in the dark. This is crucial for fast-paced operations, environments with narrow aisles, or jobs that continue well into the night. Clothing that is too large can snag on equipment, while clothing that is too small is highly uncomfortable. Both of these issues can result in operators choosing not to wear their high-visibility clothing. This results in reduced operator safety, so it is crucial to choose high-visibility clothing that fits properly.

Leavitt Machinery Can Help with All Safety Needs

In addition to these 5 pieces of PPE , operators should be using the safety features on their equipment. These can include lights, back-up cameras, mirrors, and sensors. Certain equipment also requires additional gear, such as fall protection for MEWPs. Using these features/gear in conjunction with PPE will massively reduce the risk of safety incidents, keeping the operation running smoothly. For more information on PPE, contact our safety experts today! We can work with you to provide full PPE solutions.

It’s also important to ensure that operators are well-trained in the best safety practices. For complete safety training and hazard awareness lessons, look no further than Leavitt Machinery. We offer comprehensive training for all applications that will enhance safety and productivity. Contact one of our training experts today or browse our course catalog to learn more!


FOPS: Falling Object Protective Structure. This often takes the form of an over-head platform that protects the operator from dropped loads or falling objects.

ROPS: Roll-Over Protective Structure. This often takes the form of a full cab that is reinforced with steel. It is meant to withstand a tip over or rolling. An enclosed ROPS ensures that the operator does not fly out of the equipment during a tip/roll-over.

MEWP: Mobile Elevated Work Platform. The new industry term for boom lifts and scissor lifts. Previously referred to as aerial lifts.