Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to active construction sites. Protection of workers is key, not just from a personal safety perspective but also from a legal one; it is a legal requirement for construction sites to provide adequate PPE to workers and visitors on site. Here are the most important items of PPE for builders and other workers in construction.
1. Head Protection
Head protection is key on a construction site, where the risk from falling objects is high. Hard hats are the most common form of head protection provided on site; made from formed HDPE, hard hats present significant impact resistance to the wearer, as well as insulation from electric shocks – keeping wearers safe from potentially unsafe overhead wiring as well as from flying or falling objects and low ceilings.
2. Eye and Face Protection
There are a number of types of PPE that are designed to protect the sensitive parts of the face, as well as airways and entryways to the body. Eyewear such as safety glasses are crucial in the use of power tools, to protect the eyes from flying debris and the potential for tool failure: snapped drill bits or flying saw fragments. Safety goggles form a seal around the eyes, protecting them from noxious fumes and dust created by certain construction materials and processes.
Other face protection examples include welder’s face shields to protect from the harsh light and sparks created by welding tools, and respiratory face masks for protection of the lungs from dust, microparticles or even airborne pathogens such as coronavirus.
3. General Body Protection
Body protection comes in different forms, each with their own use cases depending on the task at hand. Wood- and metal-working might necessitate the wearing of an apron, to protect the body from shavings, offcuts and debris. Boiler suits might be worn to protect from chemical spills or burn risks when working on engineering or plumbing tasks, and all-weather clothing is generally useful for keeping warm and protected during outdoors construction work. Hi-vis vests and jackets also protect the wearer, by making them visible to other workers – particularly those in control of vehicles.
4. Hand Protection
Gloves can provide more than warm to cold hands – though that is indeed important for outdoors construction work. Cold hands can make for imprecise and dangerous work, where precision and control over power tools is key. Latex gloves are also useful for tasks where protection from solvents is necessary, such as joinery work or grouting. Bulkier gloves can also protect from more serious injuries incurred from the use of sharp tools.
5. Foot Protection
Protective footwear is a must on any construction site, owing to the high volume of heavy objects, falling-object risk and crush risk from vehicles and machinery. Steel toe-capped work boots are a common choice for construction sites owing to their rugged design, but supervisors and engineers in less risky environments might wear a more comfortable safety shoe instead; electricians may not require a hard-wearing shoe, but still benefit from the safety afforded by insulated soles, protecting them from electric shocks.