Use of PPE In Construction - Guidance, and Checklist

The construction industry, on average, reports the highest number of fatal injuries every year. Even after adequate controls in the work environment and detailed risk assessments, workers can be victims of health and safety risks. This is what makes the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in construction so important.

PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, includes everything used to protect individuals from health and safety hazards. Wearing correct PPEs can make a huge difference and save people from life-threatening injuries by offering the right level of protection in the workplace.

Different Types of PPE

Different types of personal protective equipment are suited for different industries in the workplace. While selecting a PPE for your employees, it is vital to consider the following: 

  • The products chosen should be CE marked.
  • The PPE must be of the correct size and weight and should fit the employee.
  • If multiple items or whole body PPE must be worn, they should be worn and utilized correctly. One item from the PPE should not affect the functioning of another.
  • All employees who will be wearing the PPE must be appropriately trained and instructed to effectively use their PPE. They should be made aware of the PPE limitations, the purpose of use, and when they must use it. 
  • All PPE equipment is in good condition.

What PPE is required for construction?

Head Protection

Head protection must be worn on a construction site. Construction workers must take every precaution by wearing head protection to minimise any risk to themselves and other fellow-workers. However, no matter how careful they are, a small hazard risk will always remain. That is why it is essential to ensure everyone on the construction site wears safety helmets or a hard hat.

Employers are required to provide employees with a safety helmet or hard hat that they should use at work. Just providing bump caps will not do, as they only protect from non-moving hazards and are not enough to keep the workers safe on a construction site where the dangers of a head injury hazard are much greater, unlike a hard hat or safety helmets. Any safety helmets or a hard hat that is given to employees on a construction site should: 

  • Be in good, usable and suitable condition. If the headgear is damaged, the employer must replace it with good head protection.
  • Fit the employee properly, and should be worn correctly
  • Should allow employees to wear hearing protection whenever required
  • Should only be bought from a good supplier.

Hand Protection

Do you know that your hands are one of the most delicate parts on your body? It’s important to always wear gloves when handling chemicals, sharp objects, or anything else dangerous since they protect against burns. They’re also great defence if something spills because their material is tough and it will prevent any liquids from reaching skin. Appropriate hand protection could include:

  • Gloves
  • Wrist cuffs
  • Finger coverings
  • Arm coverings

Ear Protection

Ear protection is vital to wear when protecting employees from noise hazards. The amount of noise workers are exposed to and the duration of time they need to work in loud noises can lead to ear damage. Even if workers are exposed for a small time period, very high levels of sound can cause permanent ear damage. This makes it important to give all workers proper safety equipment for their ears. 

Some of the safety gear that employees can give workers to protect their ears include earplugs, semi-insert/canal caps, and earmuffs. Any good ear personal protective equipment will provide a good amount of protection from loud noise levels and will not compromise employees’ safety or communication. Workers should also be taught how to use the ear equipment properly to maximize protection.

Leg and Foot Protection

Construction workers must always wear foot protection when they are on site. Foot injuries can affect the muscles and tendons, potentially affecting normal foot movement for many months. Precautions to minimize foot and leg injuries are a must on any construction site. A good foot PPE will include safety boots such as, steel toecaps and steel midsole protection. The toecap shoes will protect the toes from dropped or falling objects, while the midsole shoes will protect the feet against penetration or puncture wounds. Any construction industry employer is required to provide workers with basic standard footwear free of cost. 

Face and Eye Protection

Eye and face protection must be worn on construction sites. They can protect individuals from metal and chemical splashes, projectile gas, dust, radiation, and harmful vapours. Although the protection is vital, the visibility is of equal importance. Therefore, it is crucial having equipment where there is protection and visibility. There are different types of eye protection gear available, including:

  • Goggles
  • Safety Glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Face Shields
  • Face screens
  • Visors

Lung Protection

Construction workers can be surrounded by contaminated dust, dangerous vapours, and gases. That is why it is lung protection must be worn. Personal protective equipment that is used for lung protection should fit the worker correctly. If the PPE doesn’t fit the worker properly, it will not provide adequate health and safety. Some common lung PPE includes:

  • Respirators
  • Filtering facepieces
  • Power-assisted respirators
  • Fresh air hose
  • Self-containing breathing apparatus

Different kinds of respirator filters are used for different hazards. Workers must ensure they are using the right kind of respiratory filter.

Protection for the Entire Body

Workers on construction sites may be required to work with harmful substances like asbestos or be subject to chemical or metal splashes, spray from pressure leaks, or spray guns. They may also get entangled in their own clothing or injure themselves due to other harmful material on the site. One of the best ways to protect workers is to give them full body protection clothing such as, disposable overalls, boiler suits, chemical suits, or aprons made from different materials. Protective clothing like this can also protect against the previously listed injuries and dangers. Protective clothing also helps reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses.

How To Identify Fake PPEs

Fake PPEs are a huge danger to construction workers. They can become the cause of someone’s death. The most common types of fake PPEs are safety helmets. Some of them are so weak you can break them with bare hands. It is important to ensure you are only giving good quality PPEs to your workers. Here are ways to identify fake personal protective equipment: 

  • The colour on the PPE is not uniform
  • The PPE doesn’t have clear markings that you can read properly
  • The PPE product is not durable
  • The user information leaflet is not original
  • The leaflet has spelling mistakes and doesn’t have the manufacturer’s contact details.

Individuals interested in learning about personal protective equipment can take up the PPE course at Standout Academy. It will teach you the role a good PPE plays in preventing life-threatening injuries and reducing fatalities. It also talks about the wide range of PPE options, rules and equipment regulations around PPEs, and the importance of risk assessments.