PPE on Construction Sites
PPE is designed to protect workers on construction sites when all other measures have failed. In addition, it's in place to make workers more visible to minimise accidents and injuries. There is a range of PPE options for construction sites, many of which are required by law. In this article, we take a look at different types of PPE and how they can protect workers on a construction site.
Hard hats are a fundamental piece of PPE that needs to be worn by construction workers if there is a chance of a head injury. Not all hard hats are of the same quality; many don’t meet the required standards in the UK. When sourcing hard hats for your construction workers, always buy a brand that is registered with the British Safety Industrial Federation. These hats will be high-quality and protect your workers in the event that something falls on their heads. Hats also need to be in good condition and fitted correctly to protect workers. If there is an event that damages a hard hat, it should be replaced immediately; otherwise, all hard hats need to be replaced every 3-5 years as the materials inside can deteriorate, and the hat will become less effective.
Another part of the body that needs extra protection on a construction site is your workers' feet. Safety boots should be worn to protect toes from falling objects and to protect the soles of feet if the worker accidentally treads on a nail or any other sharp object. Workers should be provided with safety boots, and these should be replaced every 6-12 months. The boots will also need to comply with the EN ISO 20345 standard to ensure they provide workers with the right level of protection. There are various levels of protection which can cover different situations; the boots that have the most protection are S3. However, the specific boots you need for your site will depend on the hazards present.
High visibility clothing
High visibility clothing is in place to ensure drivers can easily see workers, preventing them from being hit by vehicles. Usually, high visibility vests are enough in most situations to make workers more visible to drivers. However, there are some situations where a full high visibility outfit should be worn. For example, if a worker is reviewing a traffic impact assessment on the site or managing traffic themselves temporarily, a full high visibility set including trousers, a jacket and a hat will make the worker more visible to drivers and minimise the risk of being hit.
Some roles in construction sites require workers to pick up and carry heavy items that may be sharp or rough. When workers are required to do this, they should be provided with safety gloves that are suitable for the items they’re carrying. The gloves will protect workers from cuts, abrasions, and any chemical and electrical shocks. Gloves should fit well; if they’re too tight, workers won’t want to wear them; if gloves are too large, they can be a hazard themselves as workers will struggle to grip properly and might be more likely to drop items.
Enforcing PPE requirements
Providing your workers with PPE is the first step to ensuring their safety when onsite. You also need to ensure that workers always wear their PPE when working. The right training will show workers the importance of wearing PPE. In addition to training, it's also important to build a culture of safety in your workplace; if safety is at the forefront of everything you do, workers are more likely to wear their PPE. Signs and enforcement of the PPE rules can also be used to remind workers to put on their PPE and the consequences of failing to wear PPE. Many workplaces won’t let employees on site if they don’t have the right PPE; if they’re caught not wearing items on the job, they will be sent home. This might appear strict, but safety should be the number one priority in any dangerous working environment. If workers are complaining about PPE being uncomfortable, look at potential alternatives that still provide protection but are also designed for comfortable working.