Personal protective equipment (PPE) for construction sites is a variety of clothing and accessories that keep you from sustaining severe job site injuries. While wearing the extra gear can be bothersome, it is critical to your protection and compliance with OSHA regulations. If you are uncertain why this is so vital, this blog will discuss the importance of personal protective equipment on the job site and provide a list of the gear you should wear for optimal protection.

Why is Personal Protective Equipment Important?

PPE saves lives and prevents serious injuries while you are on the job. This equipment is so essential to your safety that OSHA mandates it for specific situations on the job site. PPE creates a blockade between you and the dangers you could encounter on the job. The absence of PPE could lead to losing an eye or limb, severe burns, or a debilitating head injury.

You must know all the personal protective equipment tips for your specific job because the specific personal protective equipment you should wear depends on your field. For instance, a medical worker would need to wear a gown and gloves to protect against contact with blood and other bodily fluids, but someone in the construction industry would need to wear other equipment.

When you work on a construction job site, the PPE required also depends on what job you are doing. Someone welding will need different PPE from someone operating a backhoe. Your employer must supply you with the PPE you need for your job, and the company must pay for it. You should also receive training on the types of PPE you need and when to wear it.

Types of PPE for the Workplace 

Types of PPE include accessories that protect your head, eyes, lungs, ears, hands, and feet. The specific type of PPE to protect each body part depends on the dangers your job creates. PPE examples are footwear, hard hats, gloves, goggles, respirators, and hearing protection.

List of PPE and Their Uses 

Personal protective equipment is a vital part of a healthy work environment. On the job site, dangers are everywhere, and wearing the right gear could save your life. If you have ever wondered why PPE is essential, you need to understand the uses of the safety gear provided for you.

The Importance of Personal Protective Equipment on the Job Site

Safety Footwear

Footwear covers your feet on all sides to protect against fatigue, heat, and impact. General guidelines will help you choose the best all-purpose work boots for your construction job. You’ll need safety-toed shoes if you work in any area where items could fall or roll over your feet. The shoes must meet the minimum standard set out by ANSI Z41-1999. The rule outlines the minimum strengths required to protect against impacts and compression.

Sites with explosives require shoes that conduct electricity to the ground to prevent static electricity from building in your body. Those working around electricity need non-conductive shoes to protect themselves against electric shocks. Treads on the bottoms of your shoes are also important and specific to where you are working. You need slip-resistant rubber soles when working in wet areas or on concrete.

Standard work shoes may come with toe guards that fit over the shoes to increase protection against falling debris or crushing. Protective footwear is the only PPE you need to purchase yourself. Check with your employer about specifics for the work boots you need.

Safety Helmets 

There are various ways that a safety helmet can protect you on the job site. A hard hat protects your head from falling objects and keeps it safe if you hit it on something. If you wear a hard hat made from a non-conductive material, it can protect you from electric shock. A helmet also protects your hair by reducing the risk of it tangling in equipment or being exposed to chemicals. Without a hard hat, your hair can hold onto dust from the work site, and you can breathe it in and potentially irritate your lungs.

Hardhats come in three classes based on the protection they offer:

Class A hats protect against impacts and electricity up to 2,200 volts.

Class B hardhats offer higher protection from electrical shocks, up to 20,000 volts, and superior protection against impacts and penetration.

Class C hats do not protect against electric shock but offer impact protection and comfort.

Inspecting your hard hat is as important for your safety as wearing it every time you go to the job site. Your hard hat protects your life, so it should be inspected every time you wear it. If your hard hat has protected you from a falling object, get a replacement before going back to work. You should also check the suspension inside the hat, which separates your head from the helmet’s shell. Maintain 1-1/4 inches between the suspension and the top of the hardhat, and never use this space for storage. Your hard hat will only protect you if it is in good condition.

Hand and Skin Protection 

The right pair of gloves protects your hands and skin when on the job. Different glove materials protect against burns, electrical shocks, chemicals, or lacerations.

Insulated Rubber Gloves protect you from electrical shocks.

Fabric Gloves keep your hands safe from minor burns, scrapes, chafing, dirt, and cuts.

Metal Mesh or Leather Gloves are thick and durable to protect against punctures, cuts, and severe burns.

Chemical Resistant Gloves must be worn when you need to handle hazardous chemicals.

You’ll want to inspect your gloves every time you wear them. Look for holes or breaks in the surface, and always choose gloves that fit your hands properly. Pick a glove size that is closest to the circumference of your hands. Gloves that are too large can make it difficult to use your hands, and gloves that are too small are extremely uncomfortable.

Eye and Face Protection

Several types of eyes and face protection can be worn on the job site. Safety goggles can protect your eyes from impacts. During general construction activities, safety goggles with side protection will suffice to protect your eyes from dust and flying debris. When welding, you might need a full-face shield to protect your eyes and face.

Even if you wear prescription glasses or contacts, you must still wear safety goggles. Some types of protective eyewear will fit over your glasses, or you may get safety goggles with prescription lenses. You can wear contact lenses with your safety eyewear, but you should remove your contact lenses immediately if chemicals splash into your face.

Lung Protection

When you need lung protection, you must understand OSHA rules to stay safe on the job. All respirators provided by employers must have NIOSH certification, as noted on the device. If you must use a respirator for any part of your job, you’ll need a medical exam and fitting to ensure the device fits you and you are physically capable of using it.

Two types of fit tests ensure the respirator a worker uses fits correctly and can easily be put on by the worker. A qualitative test determines if a worker can correctly fit the respirator onto their face. A quantitative test measures the amount of air that escapes from the sides of the respirator. More air leakage indicates an imperfect fit requiring a different respirator or better adjustments.

Workers must use respirators for areas immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH). Selecting a respirator for areas that are not IDLH depends on the hazards that could be encountered. For example, to protect against vapors or gases, employers should provide respirators with an air supply. Protection against particulate matter requires protection with either an air supply respirator or an air-purifying respirator. For any voluntary respirator use, the employees must still follow all manufacturer-provided instructions for the device. If a worker provides their respirator, it cannot be used for purposes other than what its design allows. For example, a dust-filtering respirator cannot protect against gases.

Hearing Protection

Hearing protection reduces the harmful effect noise can have on the eardrums. There are three types of standard PPE hearing protection:

Reusable earplugs molded to the individual’s ear

Single-use disposable earplugs

Earmuffs with an airtight seal around the ear

OSHA uses sound level and duration to determine whether hearing protection is required. For instance, exposure to a sound measuring 90 dB for eight hours requires protection. Using protection is essential even if the noise doesn’t seem too loud because consistent noise levels over time can severely damage your hearing.

The Purpose of Wearing PPE 

Many risks stem from not using the appropriate PPE. This gear can save you from an accident by preventing concussions, severe lacerations, burns, eye injuries, hearing loss, and amputations. Unfortunately, there are thousands of work-related deaths yearly, and most fatalities occur in industries that use heavy equipment, construction, and move materials. Protective equipment can prevent adding to these statistics. The safety risks of not using the correct PPE are too significant for you not to put on the gear.

The Importance of Personal Protective Equipment on the Job Site

Train Employees on the Proper Use of PPE 

Training should discuss why PPE is essential, its purpose, when to use it, how to put it on and take it off, limitations of the gear, and proper maintenance. Retraining sessions should occur for workers who fail to follow proper procedures or for all employees after significant changes in the job site or PPE occur. Employers must document and retain certifications for all workers when they complete training. Employers must pay for all safety equipment except for footwear and are responsible for maintaining and replacing gear as it wears out.

Let Extreme Safety Help You Maintain Safe Job Sites

At Extreme Safety, we make maintaining a safe working environment easier. We provide all the PPE you need for your job sites. Combined with the appropriate training to stay safe, our equipment is valuable in keeping your worksites safe. When you need the appropriate PPE to keep your employees safe, call us at (310) 856-0166 or click here to learn more about our equipment.