News>Commentary - Motorcycle PPE: The first line of defense
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. - U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cassandra Jenniges, a native of Lamberton, Minn., and currently assigned to the 20th Force Support Squadron, tightens her chin strap after donning her helmet before riding her motorcycle on March 9, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young/Released)
SHAW AFB - U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cassandra Jenniges, a native of Lamberton, Minn., and currently assigned to the 20th Force Support Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. puts on her reflective riding jacket before riding her motorcycle on March 9, 2012, while at Shaw AFB, S.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley L. Gardner/Released)
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. - U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cassandra Jenniges, a native of Lamberton, Minn., and currently assigned to the 20th Force Support Squadron, secures her riding gloves , which is an essential item of her protective equipment needed before riding her motorcycle on March 9, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young/Released)
7/3/2012 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- You are probably asking yourself, "What is PPE"? Well, personal protective equipment, PPE for short, is what we wear to protect ourselves from injury. For example, football players wear pads and a helmet for protection when they play football. Construction workers wear hardhats, eye protection and various other devices to help them do their job.
Since the motorcyclist is exposed to the elements and there is very little protection for the rider should he/she be involved in an accident, PPE is a must. For motorcyclists, PPE can mean the difference between a few bumps and bruises versus a serious injury. In some cases, it can mean the difference between life and death.
So, let's look at how PPE can protect a motorcycle operator.
Many experts agree that the helmet is the most important piece of protective equipment a rider can wear. The helmet protects your head against injury from flying objects, windblast, the weather and impact with flying objects. While there are many styles of helmets available, for maximum protection experts recommend a full-face helmet. However, no matter what style of helmet you choose, make sure it is at least Department of Transportation certified.
Eye protection is also crucial because if you can't see, you can't ride. A face shield attached to the helmet offers the best protection. If you choose to wear goggles or glasses, make sure they wrap around to completely cover your eyes and are designed to meet or exceed American National Standards Institute Z87.1, UNECE 22.05 or BS6658 for impact and shatter resistance.
A windshield alone does not constitute proper eye protection.
Hard-soled boots or shoes that completely cover the ankle offer protection against foot and ankle injuries. Make sure your footwear has a sturdy, oil-resistant lug sole. This will provide you a good grip on the foot pegs of your bike as well as grip the road when you put your feet down.
Gloves offer protection year round. In the winter, they keep your hands warm and comfortable. During the summer, they can help you keep a better grip on the handlebars when your hands begin to sweat from the heat. Moreover, no matter what time of year, gloves will protect your hands if you fall.
Long pants and a long-sleeve shirt or jacket will protect your legs and upper body accordingly. Remember to wear garments such as leather or denim; these will give you better protection as opposed to lighter weight fabrics.
Additionally, riders need to wear upper-garment riding apparel that incorporates high-visibility colors such as fluorescent yellow-green, fluorescent orange-red or fluorescent red during the day and a retro-reflective upper garment at night. The outer-upper garment is required to visible at all times.
Riders may wear a backpack if it has high-visibility colors and high-visibility reflective properties, or does not obscure the visibility and reflectivity of the rider's upper garment.
For questions on motorcycle PPE or motorcycle safety requirements, please call the 20th Fighter Wing safety office at 895-1980.