Workers wear safety gear for a reason. But PPE is only fully functional when it's used properly, whether it's a chemical suit or a respirator.
When working with hazardous chemicals and toxic fumes, there's no room for error and quick fixes won't do. Exposure to many of these toxins can mean significant injury or illness, and can be fatal.
That's why it's important to remember that tape is useful for many things, but it's not part of your PPE. Even OSHA notes that duct tape – that trusty sidekick on many projects – has its limitations when it comes to PPE.
Safe Alternatives to Tape
When you don't have quite the right PPE on hand, or you want to make what you've got extra secure, it can be tempting to reach for the tape and try to jimmy rig something. But think about all of those seams, ripples, and folds in any protective garment. The idea of using tape as a protective barrier starts to seem a little ludicrous, doesn't it?
Thankfully, there are always alternatives that fit the relevant safety regulations and will give you adequate protection. You never have to rely on your tape to do a job it wasn't designed to do.
Say you're worried about the gap that is left between your safety gloves and your protective garment. Why settle for tape and praying it holds when you'll need it most instead of opting for a detachable glove ring assembly? And using suitable PPE means never having to worry that hazardous chemicals will leak through the tape or that a sharp object pierces through it.
When to Tape It Up
Overall, it's a good idea to discourage workers from relying on tape. But that doesn't mean there are some scenarios that can't be helped by a few strips of it.
Tape can be effective when it's used to support a piece of PPE, but it should never be one of your main lines of defense. If the PPE isn't adequate without tape, the solution isn't to tape it up – it's to get better PPE.
If you have the proper PPE for the job, you can still use tape to improve fit. You can also use specialty tape to provide an extra layer of splash protection. But again, tape will not act as a seal or barrier and will not protect the worker if it's their first line of defense.
It’s All About Safety
Tape is a handy tool, as long as you remember what it is meant for. When it comes to safety measures and PPE, tape can be part of the supporting cast but it should never play one of the leading roles. It simply can't do the job a properly designed piece of safety equipment can.