When you think about it, it may not be that surprising that construction features high on the list of statistics for fatal injuries in the UK. From heavy vehicles and power tools to working at great heights and exposure to hazardous substances, several factors can combine to increase the risks of injuries. This is what makes it so important that construction workers are provided with industry-standard personal protective equipment that can help to minimise the risk of injury to workers.
The Importance Of Personal Protective Equipment
The unfortunate reality is, although the common dangers on construction sites are well-known, they cannot be eliminated completely. Heavy vehicles are necessary for moving construction material, mixing cement, and moving large items from one place to another. Working at height on scaffolding is unavoidable. Many jobs just cannot be done without power tools. The best way to prevent injury to workers working on construction sites is to make sure they receive the proper health and safety training and to provide them with the appropriate personal protective equipment.
Proper personal protective equipment can be used to protect construction workers from hazards such as:
- Breathing in air contaminants
- Falling objects or debris
- Exposure to corrosive materials
- Falls from great heights
- Extreme temperatures
- Loud noises
- Flying debris
- Slips, trips and falls
Employer Responsibility With Regards To PPE
According to the HSE employers in all industries are responsible for providing their workers with the appropriate personal protective equipment depending on the risks inherent in that particular workplace.
Employers must also regularly inspect protective equipment to ensure each piece is properly maintained and also make sure all workers know how to use the safety equipment and understand safety measures on the construction site.
Types Of PPE For Construction Workers
Equipment For Head Protection
Head injuries on construction sites typically result from flying objects, falling from great height, chemical spills, and potential impact from falling objects. While the exact type of head protection will depend on the type of work being done and the worksite itself, all construction workers must wear some type of approved safety helmet while at work. Even visitors are required to wear a safety helmet while visiting an active construction site.
On specialised construction sites, workers may be required to wear specialised head protection such as hard hats or helmets that can absorb electric shocks.
Regardless of the type of equipment required, it is important that all head protection is routinely inspected for cracks or dents and damaged helmets replaced immediately as they will not offer adequate protection.
Face And Eye Protection
Face protection on construction sites includes face protectors that prevent harmful particles from entering the lungs that can cause illnesses such as occupational asthma and other respiratory illnesses. This equipment includes various types of masks or ventilators.
Eye protection is vital to protect construction workers eyes from hazards such as chemical spills, flying projectiles, dust particles and vapour fumes that can irritate the eyes.
Face and eye protective equipment must be worn at all times while on the construction site by construction workers, supervisors, and visitors to the site.
All ventilators must be regularly inspected to ensure that they are still effective at filtering out hazardous substances, and safety glasses must be regularly inspected for cracks or breaks in the material.
Loud machinery and loud vehicles are common on many construction sites, and they can pose a risk not just to the person working directly with the machine or vehicle, but to all those at the site. Proper ear protection can protect workers such as industry standard ear muffs or ear plugs from experiencing long-term damage to their hearing, or even permanent noise induced hearing loss if not prevented from the start.
Hand And Arm Protection
Proper hand and arm protection can protect a worker’s extremities from harm as well as protect them from extreme temperatures. Proper hand protection includes heavy-duty gloves that are designed for the job at hand. For example, a construction worker working on concrete should wear heavy-duty rubber gloves while a welding worker should wear the appropriate welding gloves. It is equally important that gloves must fit snugly in order to be effective.
The best way for construction workers to protect their arms from direct contact with dust and hazardous chemicals is by wearing long sleeve shirts. This type of clothing should be of the appropriate thickness and made of the appropriate material to provide the necessary protection.
The right footwear on a construction site comprises heavy duty boots with high tops, steel-toed boots, and slip-resistant soles. These types of safety boots protect workers from slipping on any type of liquid spills and sharp objects that may be left on the floor. They also offer protection to workers’ toes to help prevent them being crushed by falling debris and other construction material or if some heavy equipment accidentally lands on their foot.
Working at height is unavoidable for some workers on construction sites, and this is also one of the riskiest aspects on working in this industry. Falling from a high floor or scaffolding can result in permanent disability or even death. The high risks make fall protection so very important.
Protective gear against falls includes safety belts or lifelines that can be worn when workers are raised high above the ground. More information on working at height can be found on the HSE website.
It is important for construction workers to be highly visible, especially if they work at night, in dark areas or in bad weather conditions where it can be hard to see them. Brightly coloured or reflective garments such as reflective jackets or vests can greatly improve worker visibility, minimising the risk of accidents.
How To Choose The Best Personal Protective Equipment
The thing about personal protective equipment is that if it is made of substandard material or it is the wrong size, it is unlikely to do the job it is supposed to, which can leave workers vulnerable to the dangers. In order to make sure that workers are properly protected, it is important that all personal protective equipment meets some basic criteria. Products that are CE marked are best as the mark certifies that they are made in accordance to Personal Protective Equipment Regulations.
If you have suffered an injury due to faulty PPE or were supplied with damaged or incorrect personal protective equipment then you may be able to claim compensation. Our page here provides advice specific to PPE compensation claims.