Personal Protective Equipment in Construction
Welcome to the jobsite! There are many hazards here and there are many ways to protect yourself from them. Most jobsites require some form of personal protective equipment to keep you, the hard working laborer, safe while on site. Unfortunately, a lot of employees complain about their PPE, saying it is uncomfortable or it gets in the way. We hear it all the time. The truth is you will never need the equipment until it’s too late. The reason you wear PPE is to protect yourself in advance from the possibility of an injury on the job. The equipment we will be covering in this safety topic is Safety Glasses, High Visibility Vests, Gloves, Hard Hats, and Face shields. Each piece of equipment has a purpose.
So it’s a hot day you are working hard, you’re sweating and your safety glasses are fogging up, or causing “you to feel unsafe working with them on.” Those glasses on the jobsite are a must have. There are so many dangers to your eyes just walking around the site. There is typically equipment moving around, sand blasters, pressure washers, nail guns, and dozens of other eye hazards all around you. Protecting your eyes should be your number-one concern. Your body cannot grow another eye. If it is injured there is no recovering an eye from trauma. Those safety glasses can get annoying, we know that. Fortunately, as the days and weeks go on, they become more comfortable to wear as your body adjusts to wearing them day in and day out. How would you like to go through life blind? Think about this every time you take those glasses off. Is it really worth not seeing what your wife and kids look like for the rest of your life.
Now on to that annoying vest! That vest could save your life, believe it or not. That vest not only makes you more visible to motorists it also makes you more visible to the equipment operators onsite. The equipment onsite has poor visibility with many blind spots. The retro-reflective color makes you more visible to the operators. This is extremely important when working around a crane. Crane operators work blind most of the time and being able to identify workers is extremely important. Front end loaders and bull dozer operators all work very quickly and are not always looking around. The bright color of your vest could make the difference between them seeing you or running you over.
What about gloves? Have you ever been climbing a job-made ladder that unfortunately is old and has not been maintained during the job. They are covered in mud, splinters, nails, and any number of things that can cut your hands. Also have you ever been handling materials for example false work wood, rebar, beams etc. that have left you with wood or metal splinters in your hands? Those gloves you are always taking off because they are uncomfortable can fix a lot of the damage caused to your hands during the work day. The type of gloves you wear should fit the type of work you are doing. From welding to placing rebar, the type of job requires a different glove type. The goal here is to save your hands by preventing injuries. Remember even a small cut can be a major issue to the point of amputation. Wear your gloves and save your hands.
It’s a hot day and you are trying to do everything you can to stay cool. The less you have on, the cooler you feel. That hard hat on your head is trapping heat making you sweat like crazy. It is constantly falling off, blocking your vision, and basically making your job harder than it should be. The truth is that hard hats save lives. How many times have you hit your head on something on the jobsite? Look at your hard hat and all the impact marks and scratches and that will tell you. Yes they are uncomfortable at times; yes they get in the way and can make work difficult sometimes. Keep that hard hat on to protect your head. Inspect your hard hat for cracks. Always inspect the inside webbing and make sure it is not worn out. Replace your hard hat every few years.
Face shields have a purpose as well. That chop saw throws sparks and that chain saw throws wood shavings everywhere. Yes, safety glasses protect your eyes to a point, but having the face shield when using certain tools on the jobsite helps to protect your eyes and the rest of your face from flying debris. Many stories have been told on the jobsite of metal flying into worker’s face when using a chop saw or grinder and not wearing a face shield. The face shield should be inspected before use. It should fit comfortably and completely block your face. If there is any damage to the face shield tell your foreman.
The above covers just the basics of personal protective equipment on the job site. Every job requires different PPE for the task at hand. Make sure you have the correct PPE for your job. If you do not have the correct equipment, do not perform the task until you have the right tools for the job. Let your foreman know if you do not have the PPE you need for your tasks.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this safety topic was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. PPE Safety Compliance makes no guarantee of results and assumes no liability in connection with either the information or safety suggestions herein contained. Moreover, it cannot assume that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein; or that abnormal circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedures. It is suggested you review the law and develop your safety program based on this review.