Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is specially issued safety gear that workers are advised to wear in high-risk situations involving manual labor. This can include handling sensitive equipment, working with hazardous or toxic substances, as well as working at construction sites. The Importance of Personal Protective Equipment standards are determined through a risk assessment, which is usually undertaken by the manager of the site. This includes identifying the hazards on site, deciding who could be harmed and how, deciding on the precautions, and recording the findings.
Different countries enforce the importance of Personal Protective Equipment depending on federal and state laws, as well as private regulations by authorities. The equipment can include boots, ear plugs, face masks, hard hats, goggles, high visibility clothing, safety harnesses, safety shoes, and even sunscreen.
Personal Protective Equipment Basics and Standards
Safety is a major issue for construction workers since they work within some of the most dangerous environments. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 150,000 construction site injuries occur every year, with workers between 25 and 34 most likely to be injured.
This is why there is so much emphasis on personal protective equipment. It’s mainly divided into five different areas:
1. Head Protection
This is probably the most common type of protective gear that is associated with construction workers. It’s the most recognizable symbol of important personal protective equipment standards. Since they work with some of the heaviest tools and materials in the industry, their skulls need protection. Hence, hard hats are most typically associated with construction workers.
These are to protect them from falling objects, flying objects, which are also paired with earmuffs and face shields in order to help with welding work and work in high volume environments. The hard hats in use need to be well fitted in order to be appropriate for use.
2. Eye and Face Protection
This and head protection go hand in hand. The protection that is required for your eyes and face include safety goggles and full face shields. Woodwork and metalwork, as well as hot work and air tool operations, require this type of protection.
3. Respiratory Protection
This is vital on a site where toxic or hazardous substances are present, such as fumes, paint spray, and pesticides, all of which can cause permanent impairment. There is also a need for adequate ventilation.
Thus, gas masks, pollution masks, and even oxygen masks are recommended on construction sites with such hazards.
4. Hand and Skin Protection
The use of one’s hands in direct contact with tools and building materials is absolutely required in construction, so the use of gloves and protective layers on the skin is paramount. The diseases that workers are prone to as a result of getting cut, slashed or brazed by the materials they work with include blood trauma and tetanus.
Different types of gloves are used for different purposes. Cut and heat resistant gloves, chainsaw gloves, and others of the like are all recommended depending on the situation that the construction worker faces.
5. Hearing Protection
It’s often discounted as an occupational hazard, but industrial noise is something that can seriously damage one’s hearing in the long term. Eighty-two (82)% of workers in the manufacturing sector incur hearing loss according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Earplugs and earmuffs are both commonly recommended to reduce hearing loss, with the former being better at reducing low-frequency noise and the latter being better at reducing high-frequency noise.
Standards in the US and Canada
The US and Canada have pretty strict codes and regulations for personal protective equipment.
In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the central body which decides these regulations.
In Canada, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations are enshrined in the Canadian Labor Code. These standards differ depending on the industry and aren’t as cut and dry as the ones that are enforced by OSHA.
Ensuring Personal Protective Equipment on Site
Ensuring the use of personal protective equipment for construction work on site is tricky since having the workers remember and understand the importance of this clothing isn’t part of the training on every single site. For them, it’s just part of their job to follow orders and not necessarily understand the orders that they’ve been given.
Hence, it’s paramount to help them understand that what they’re being instructed to do is for their own safety.
Here are a few things you can do to encourage your workers to wear personal protective equipment at all costs and at all times.
? Consult with the employees before you introduce more protective clothing. This improves communication regarding the clothing since the employees that perform relevant functions to the clothing being assigned can tell you about the positive and negative effects that said clothing would have on their performance.
? You should highlight locations that require special equipment with signs and labels so that everyone that approaches will know to wear the gear before entering.
? You should also make sure that not following protocol results in discipline of the employees in question. This will encourage wearing of protective clothing by example. This should go along with supervisors being given direct responsibility to ensure that the policy is complied with.
? Store protective clothing in locations that are accessible to employees. It should also be stored close to the places that require it.
Personal Protective Equipment is a benefit to construction workers everywhere and ensures that fewer lives are lost and fewer injuries occur every single year. Never hesitate to ask temporary staffing agencies if they have the necessary PPE. Safety is important and having an understanding of these various protection devices can help to prevent hazardous injury. However, dealing with protective equipment standards and incident and accident reports on site can be a tedious job if you have to get through a lot of paperwork. For help with paperwork, as well as other construction management tasks, contact us today.