You'll probably never see a football player in a game without a helmet, a baseball catcher playing without a mask, or a firefighter putting out an oil field fire without a protective suit.

It would be about as unlikely to find an ironworker or any other skilled trade worker on a major construction project without a hard hat.

However, depending on the job you are performing, there are many other kinds of personal protective equipment and guards that are just as important as the hard hat. Construction is a rugged business with rugged people working in it. Too often we confuse ruggedness with faulty safety practices; we fail to use a guard or protective device when we know better!

Speaking of ruggedness, professional football players take extra precautions; they not only wear every piece of protective equipment, but they also make sure that it is in good repair. Their jobs depend on their health and physical condition. Professional football players have plenty of chances to be injured, and they're not about to add to those chances by not using the proper protective equipment. Why should you?

Think about the many different jobs you do every day and the number of times you have exposed yourself unnecessarily to hazards because you failed to wear the proper equipment that is provided for your protection.

Your eyes may be exposed to hazards such as flying objects, vapors, acids, splashing metal, radiant energy, sunlight and glare. That's why there are so many different types of safety goggles, face shields and hoods; they're provided for your protection.

Hands can also be injured by burns, punctures, wounds, abrasions, incised wounds and amputations. Different kinds of protection are needed, including gloves, hand pads, finger guards, rubber gloves and plastic gloves.

The torso may be exposed to injuries, including burns, abrasions, punctures and incised wounds. Additional protection may be required, such as coveralls, wool clothing, a leather or canvas apron or an asbestos suit.

Your lungs can also be exposed to hazards, such as dusts, vapors, heat, smoke, caustics and a lack of oxygen. Respirators, air-supplied hoods and canister-type oxygen masks provide protection.

We must consider the hazards of the work we are performing and the parts of our bodies threatened by them. Then we must obtain and use the necessary protective equipment. Be a pro -- protect yourself.

For more information read Section 3 - Personal Protection Equipment - in the Elevator Industry Field Employees' Safety Handbook