Personal Protective Equipment or PPE is designed to protect employees in their working environment against risks to their health and safety.
PPE is labelled as protective equipment but the majority of the items that come under PPE are actually protective clothing such as hard hats, gloves, safety boots etc.
By law employers should provide employees with the necessary PPE so that they can undertake their duties safely.
What You Need to Know
Anyone who has had experience working on a construction site will know that it can be a very dangerous place to work if you don’t stay alert, work safely and have the right PPE.
The right PPE for working on a construction site is determined by the considerable hazards in the work place. On site there are potential hazards almost everywhere from items falling from above to dust or debris entering the eyes. Therefore the minimum PPE a site worker should wear every time they are on site includes; a hard hat, a high visibility jacket or vest, safety boots/footwear, gloves and eye protection.
Your employer or contractor should provide you with correct PPE and instruct you on how to wear it correctly. It is important to ensure your PPE is well maintained and looked after. If any of your PPE is damaged, for example if a falling object strikes your hard hat and it is cracked or damaged by the impact, you will need to replace it immediately. When you are not using your PPE it should be stored in a safe place where it cannot be impaired and any smaller PPE items such as safety glasses should be kept in a suitable casing.
Construction PPE Items
Hard Hat – This protects your head from falling objects and any risk of bumping your head on objects. It should be worn on site at all times.
Filtering Face-piece or Respirator – This is worn across you nose and mouth and protects you from breathing in dust or hazardous debris. A respirator must be worn in dusty atmospheres on site for example when demolition is in progress.
Safety Glasses or Goggles – These are worn to protect your eyes from dust, chemical splashes or metal splashes. Safety glasses should be worn at all times on site.
High Visibility Clothing – This is one of the most important PPE items. It allows you to be easily visible on site or if you are working in public areas such as highways.
Gloves – Safety gloves protect your hands from scrapes and scratches on wood and metal that could potentially lead to infection if the wood or metal is dirty or rusty. Most safety gloves also have a grip on the palm making it easier and safer to handle tools and equipment on site. Gloves must be worn on site at all times.
Safety Boots/Footwear – All site workers should wear suitable safety footwear on site. This not only protects your feet and ankles on the uneven ground of a construction sites but also protects the venerable top area of the foot with a protective toecap.
Ear Protectors – If you are working with or near a loud or vibrating piece of plant equipment you will need to protect your hearing by wearing ear protectors.
Remember PPE is there for your own protection. Wear it correctly, look after it well and store it in a safe place. For more information about Construction Site Safety please visit the Article: Construction Site Safety Basics