What PPE should be worn on a building site?
The construction industry has significantly high numbers of accidents each year. However, construction workers could avoid many of these accidents with proper PPE. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to all the equipment, uniform, accessories and devices a construction worker wears to protect from hazards on a construction site. PPE on construction sites is used to protect employees from all the risks they might encounter at work, including head, lungs, eyes and skin injuries. Even after thorough health and safety checks, risk assessments and controls in the workplace, PPE can add an additional layer of protection to employees.
Why PPE is important to wear:
PPE is important for the protection of health risks to construction workers. Hazards include skin contact with corrosive materials, inhalation of hazardous dust, and eye irritation. These risks can also have long-term implications such as dermatitis, blindness and even lung cancer from inhaling Silica dust. Therefore, PPE is important for employees’ long-term health and safety at a worksite.
Do you have to wear PPE on a construction site?
According to The Personal Protection Equipment at Work Regulations, construction workers must wear PPE that the employer provides on-site. These regulations also guarantee that employers in Great Britain ensure that suitable PPE is provided to employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work.
What PPE should you wear on a construction site?
Head protection is a legal requirement across almost all construction sites. Employers must organise construction work to minimise risk to all workers. However, there are likely still hazards despite thorough risk assessments, so everyone must wear head protection on site.
To comply with the PPE at work regulations, employers must not only provide construction workers with proper head protection but are also responsible for ensuring they wear it.
Adequate head protection must be in good condition. Damaged PPE must be thrown away and replaced by the employer. The hard hat or safety helmet must fit correctly, be worn properly, and be purchased from a reputable supplier.
Construction workers are expected to wear adequate foot protection at all times. Feet are incredibly fragile, and injury can prohibit foot movement for several months. Ideally, foot protection should have a steep cap to protect from falling objects and steel midsole protection to protect against puncture wounds from stepping on sharp objects.
Foot protection should also protect workers from twisting their ankles on uneven ground. Employers must provide workers with suitable footwear for the site they’re working on.
When construction work involves hazards such as chemical or metal splashes, dust, projectiles, vapour or radiation, eye protection is really important. Eye protection must be suitable for the job and fit workers correctly to ensure maximum safety.
Eye protection can include goggles, safety spectacles, face shields and visors.
The sound levels on a construction site are very high. Workers are often around these noises for a prolonged time, which can have a lasting effect on hearing.
Even if subjected to loud noises for a short amount of time, very high sound levels can still harm the ears. This means it is still important that all workers are given access to proper ear protection.
Ear protection must be right for the level of noise workers are around whilst not compromising their safety or hearing. Ear plugs, ear muffs and semi-insert/canal caps are a few types of ear protection used on a construction site.
Construction workers are often at risk of inhaling dust, gases and vapours when working on a construction site. Incorrectly fitting respiratory PPE will not form an adequate seal and can leave the worker at risk of inhalation and health problems; therefore, lung PPE must fit the worker perfectly.
Some examples of lung protection include respirators, a fresh air hose and filtering facemasks. Respiratory PPE must have the correct filter for the type of work undertaken, as each filter is only suitable for a certain number of substances.
Additionally, respiratory filters only have a specific lifespan. Therefore, before giving it to workers, employers should check that their lung PPE is correct and not provide filters for workers exposed to high levels of harmful fumes, confined spaces or low levels of oxygen. Employers should instead provide these workers with breathing apparatus.
At times on a building site, workers might need full body protection. In these cases, Workers might require the use of disposable overalls, boilersuits, aprons or chemical suits to keep them safe. These are likely needed when working with asbestos, pressure leaks, chemicals, and metals that might splash on the body.
Some construction sites have different rules about what can be worn on site. Workers must follow site rules to ensure they are as safe as possible. One example is sites that ban wearing shorts due to a lack of protection to the legs. Wearing shorts could leave the lower leg vulnerable to injuries that could become infected or trade-specific hazards such as overexposure to UV light.
Hi-vis clothing is incredibly important for visibility on a construction site. Visibility is especially important for construction workers near a busy road, working in the evenings or during the winter.
Hi-vis jackets and clothing aren’t distracting in daylight and work best in low visibility situations. When working near a busy road, hi-vis can protect workers and the public from accidents, and in the winter, work can go on for longer when the sun sets early.
By using the correct PPE, construction workers can increase their safety in a job with high accidents. When using PPE at a construction site, it must fit the worker properly, be undamaged, and be the right equipment for the job. Using the wrong size, damaged, or unsuitable type of PPE can seriously harm the health and safety of construction workers.