Personal protective equipment includes clothing or items protecting against injury or illness due to contact with chemicals, radiation, or infection. It can also have gloves and shoes that protect hands and feet from chemical hazards such as acids or petroleum solvents. Construction workers are at risk of injury every day. The best way to protect them is by providing the correct Personal Protective Equipment. Understanding what construction workers need to stay safe can help you find the best PPE for your workplace as there is always the risk of being injured or killed by equipment or a safety hazard. Personal Protective Equipment, has been shown to reduce injuries and illnesses for workers.
Types of PPE :There are different types of PPE based on various industries. For example, here are few types of PPE’s used in the construction industry.
- Protective clothing for skin protection-These items is designed to protect the wearer from contact with chemical, biological, or physical hazards that they may encounter in their work environment.
- Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)- RPE’s are used while working with hazardous materials; it is essential to protect your lungs and respiratory system from harmful airborne substances such as chemical, biological, or radioactive materials.
- Eye protection (Goggles)- Goggles are used in various industries and professions where eye protection is required. Construction workers wear them to shield their eyes from flying debris such as sawdust and plaster chips; welders use them to avoid accidental sparks that can contact their eyes.
- Steel toecap boots for foot protection- Steel toecap boots are a convenient way of protecting your feet, primarily if you work in an environment with hazards. The steel ensures that any object on the ground can’t penetrate through the boot and injure your foot.
Common Hazards That Require PPE
- Extreme temperatures- Working in extreme temperatures, either hold or cold climate, can be challenging. It requires long sleeve shirt, pants with leg protection (steel toe or leather), gloves, headgear (hardhat). Workers in heavy rain or wind-like situations need to be equipped with a heavy jacket with hood and pants tucked into boot tops, gloves, waterproof footwear.
- Radiation- Radiation refers to ionizing or non-ionizing energy waves that emit from radioactive materials and cause diseases like leukemia when they enter our bodies. Nitrile gloves, lead apron vests, lab coats can be used to reduce the harmful effects of radiation.
- Loud Noises- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that workers be provided with a combination of earplugs and earmuffs for protection from loud noises. While some people may not want to use these devices because they think they will be less productive while wearing them, studies show that their productivity increases when workers are provided with PPE like this.
- Potential of falling- Workers work on high altitudes in the construction industry and have a greater risk of losing their balance. Regular use of PPE such as full-body harnesses, self-retracting lifelines (SRLs), and lanyards protect workers getting injured in a fall.
Getting Employees to use PPE :
- Flexibility to use PPE- Instead of imposing your choice, it would be a better option to give them the freedom to choose their PPE. Allow them to choose their color or design if there are multiple options available; this will make them take care of them once they start using it.
- Employment contracts- You have the authority to take strict action or dismiss any employee who refuses to use PPE even after accommodating them unless the reason is valid. Make it clear in the contract at the beginning stage to avoid any disputes later.
- Follow the rules and let others follow- If the leadership or seniors doesn’t use PPE during site visits or inspection, you cannot expect your employees to do the same. You may not work there the whole day, but that doesn’t mean you are immune to accidents when you visit less frequently. Such ignorance will lose the trust and respect of employees.
- Awareness- Conduct awareness sessions to make your workers understand the importance of using PPE and show them the consequences of not using them. Put up a bulletin board where the PPE kits are stored and ask your staff to attach pictures of their family members. This will motivate them to stay safe as they have a family they have to look after.
Rules For Using PPE Kit :
- Employers need to provide PPE- It is the employer’s responsibility to give kits to ensure the safety of their employees. There is no need for workers to purchase PPE kits at their expense. Any supervisor denying providing safety kits to save the costs needs to be reported to the management. Simultaneously employees cannot refuse to wear the kits supplied by the administration; managers cannot permit workers to work without safety kits.
- Oppose in case of shortcomings- Don’t provide PPE kits if it fits poorly or over fits or fails to perform; instead, report to the senior management and get it changed immediately. PPEs are meant to protect from risks, not increasing them. For example, if it is under fitting and hindrances your blood circulation, it is not helpful in the long run.
- Use PPE depending upon the risks- Don’t use a dust mask if you have to work in an environment of harmful radiation; instead, use a highly filtered mask. Ensure the PPE kit protects you from the hazards of that particular job by choosing the right one
- Provide training- Train your workers to use the kit effectively. Some protective gears like radiation masks require training to be used. Train anyone unsure or less confident in using them as it may affect their performance and health.
- Conduct quality checks- Purchase the PPE kits from a trusted source and ensure they meet the regulatory standards set by the concerned authority. If the kit fails to meet your expectations, cancel the contract, or take strict actions against the supplier. Don’t compromise with money when it comes to getting good quality PPE; the money spent will be worth the cost in the long run.
- PPE checklist- Make your workers sign a PPE checklist to address any health conditions if they have. This document will help you create or modify the PPE as per their requirements.