A Guide to Personal Protective Equipment in the Construction Industry

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A Guide to Personal Protective Equipment in the Construction Industry

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is an essential addition to any workplace uniform. Used in dark and dangerous working conditions, PPE protects the wearer whilst simultaneously drawing the public’s attention to any dangers that may arise.

There are a range of different protective equipments that are utilised in many different industries for different safety purposes. From hard hats protecting against blunt force trauma to overalls protecting the wearer from any hazardous chemicals or liquids, all protective equipment is specially designed in order to make the workplace a safer environment for all. Regulations in place ensure that any employees who may be at risk of injury must wear the appropriate protective clothing whilst carrying out workplace tasks.

Why is PPE so important in the construction industry?

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous and hazardous places to work with the highest number of fatal injuries recorded every year compared to any other workplace. Despite taking precautionary measures such as wearing PPE and carrying out thorough and frequent risk assessments, the emergence of new hazards and risks constantly challenge construction workers. Protective clothing in the workplace aims to minimise the chance of injuries and aims to reduce the fatality of any injuries should they happen – this is essentially the difference between facing a life-changing injury compared to a minor injury.

Types of PPE used in construction?

There are many different types of protective equipment that can be utilised within the construction industry. Specially designed to protect the wearer from thermal, chemical and electrical burns, blunt trauma, gases, vapours, adverse weather conditions and more, PPE keeps construction workers safe no matter what tasks they are carrying out.

Head Protection – every worker on a construction site must wear suitable head protection at all times as the risks are significantly higher than in any other environment, this falls under the PPE Regulation of 1992. Suitable forms of head protection include safety helmets or hard hats, any other head protection will not adequately protect a wearer from injury in this type of workplace.

Ear Protection – construction sites can be very noisy at times and workers are at risk of ear damage if they are exposed to high levels of sound for a long period of time. Earplugs and earmuffs should be provided at all times to workers on a construction site. Any ear based protective equipment must not compromise the wearer’s ability to hear or communicate as this could potentially lead to more risks.

Foot Protection – construction workers should ensure that they are wearing the correct safety boots for their environment. Safety footwear comes in various different forms, from anti-slip and oil resistant soles to anti-static and thermally insulating. Steel toe caps are also a common feature of construction safety footwear and helps to protect your feet against falling debris or any accidents that might occur on a construction site.

Eye Protection – construction workers can often be expected to work alongside dangerous and hazardous chemicals which could irritate the eyes. Splashes, gas, vapours and radiation all pose risks within the industry and it is therefore important for eye protective equipment to be provided. Suitable forms of eye protection include safety glasses, goggles, face shields and visors.

Lung Protection – dust, vapours and gases can commonly be found on construction sites and it is of the upmost importance to protect workers from these elements to ensure their continued good health. Types of lung protection include respirators, self-contained breathing apparatus and fresh-air hoses. It is important for all construction workers to understand how to use such equipment and what equipment to use in the presence of certain hazards.

An employer’s responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide all construction workers with suitable protective equipment that is well-fitting, comfortable and in good working condition. Employees must receive professional training on how to use handle PPE and when to make use of it. Any protective equipment brought by the employer must also be CE marked, ensuring that such equipment complies with the PPE Regulations of 2002.

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