Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to articles of clothing or equipment which are designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury. We use many types of PPE backstage.

Clothing and Hair Protection

Whenever working, all workers are required to wear closed-toe shoes (no sandals, flip flops, Crocs, etc. will be permitted) and long pants – no skirts, no shorts. Long hair must be securely tied back away from the face so that it cannot become caught in moving parts of stage machinery or tools, such as saws or drills.

Eye and Face Protection

Numerous types of eye and face protection exist for many different jobs. Eye protection must be worn whenever operating any power tool.

  • Safety Glasses: these are available in the Scene Shop, Lighting Shop, or Sound Shop. Safety glasses look like normal glasses, but are designed to protect the wearer from flying particles such as those created by a power saw. Safety glasses can be worn over most normal glasses.
  • Goggles: these are available in the Scene Shop. Goggles are close-fitting eye protection which completely cover the eyes and area of the face immediately around the eye sockets. Goggles protect against flying particles, impact, dust, and splash hazards (such as paint thinner or other solvents).
  • Welding Shields: these are available in the Scene Shop. Welding shields are constructed of vulcanized fiber or fiberglass and are fitted with a filtered lens designed to protect the eyes from infrared and intense radiant light produced while welding. Welding shields also protect the user from flying sparks, slag chips, and metal spatter created while welding.
  • Face Shields: these are available in the Scene Shop or from the Lighting Supervisor. Face shields are transparent sheets of plastic which protect the user from dust and some spray hazards, but should be used in conjunction with goggles or safety glasses when impact is a risk. Face shields are required when changing high-pressure lamps in lighting instruments (i.e. followspots).

Head Protection

Head injuries are to be avoided at all costs. Hard Hats are designed to be worn on the head and protect from impact caused by falling or flying equipment. Hard hats must be worn whenever unsecured equipment is being manipulated overhead. Head protection must be worn when:

  • The Hoerner Theatre’s counterweight fly system is being loaded or unloaded.
  • Anyone is working on the grid or installing equipment in the front of house in the Hoerner Theatre.
  • Workers are hanging equipment overhead from scaffolding, ladders, or lifts.
  • Any theatrical rigging is taking place.
  • Any time individuals are manipulating overhead equipment which could potentially fall and injure other workers below.
  • Any time individuals working at height may sustain head injuries. When working at height, your hard hat must be equipped with a chin strap to prevent it falling off.

Hand and Arm Protection

When dealing with heat, cold, chemicals, or other hazards, it is advisable to use PPE to protect one’s hands and arms from exposure.

  • Leather and Canvas Gloves: available in the Scene Shop or from the Lighting Supervisor. Leather and canvas gloves offer protection from heat and cold, sparks, chips, and rough objects. These gloves offer protection from minor impacts by hand tools.
  • Fabric Gloves: commonly available from hardware stores, these gloves offer protection from dirt, slivers, chafing, and minor abrasions.
  • Chemical and Liquid Resistant Gloves: available in the Scene Shop. These gloves, available in several types, protect the user’s skin from contact with potentially hazardous chemicals. Some common types:
    • Latex/Rubber
    • Neoprene
    • Nitrile
  • NOTE: Gloves should NEVER be worn when operating any aspect of the Hoerner Theatre’s counterweight fly system. Gloves should NEVER be worn when operating ANY stationary power tool.

Body Protection

Occasionally work must be performed in an environment where the worker may be exposed to bodily injury from temperature extremes, hot splashes from molten metal or other liquids, impact from tools, machinery, chemical exposure, or other materials. In these situations it is appropriate and required to request body protection from a faculty or staff member.

  • One example is when welding – anyone welding must wear a leather apron in addition to hand and arm protection and a welding shield.
  • If you are asked to perform a task which you feel endangers you, request appropriate PPE from your supervisor.

Hearing Protection

Theatre production spaces can be a very loud environment. Hearing protection must be used when working in all high-noise environments. The following are classified as high-noise environments:

  • Scene Shop: during crew hours and any time when power tools are in use.
  • Hoerner and Clark Theatres: any time when power tools are in use on stage or in the house.

The following are acceptable forms of hearing protection:

  • Single-Use Earplugs: available in the Scene Shop. These are self-forming, disposable, and when correctly used, offer as much protection as most molded earplugs.
  • Reusable Earplugs: these are available with attached cords or plastic bands to prevent loss.
  • Earmuffs: also available in the Scene Shop. These offer greater protection than earplugs, but their protective value may be reduced if a perfect seal around the ear is obstructed (i.e. by glasses, long hair, facial hair, or movement such as chewing gum).

The gallery to your right will take you to two graphics demonstrating the noise level created by various tools used in theatrical production and the recommended maximum level of noise exposure per day.

Respiratory Protection

  • Dust Masks: loose paper filters that fit over the nose and mouth and secure to the head by means of an elastic strap. These masks are designed to protect against dust inhalation, but are not effective against potentially hazardous fumes. Available in the Scene Shop.