Personal protective equipment (PPE) are items that will protect the wearer against potential health and safety risks at work. Required for a variety of industries such as construction and agriculture, PPE can change according to the wearer’s working conditions. Here’s why it’s important to use PPE.
Why is PPE Important?
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it’s important that the workplace is made as safe as possible. There should be instructions and procedures in place, and employees should have adequate training and supervision. But even after these safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain.
These risks might be:
- Injury to the lungs - from breathing contaminated air.
- Injury to the head and feet - from falling items.
- Injury to the eyes - from debris and waste in the air.
- Injury to the skin - from contact with corrosive substances.
- Injury to the body - from extreme heat or cold.
That’s why PPE is needed. It’s a last resort, but will form the final barrier between your employees and the occupational hazards they face. It’s important that you choose the equipment carefully as it should safeguard against specific hazards. In addition, employees should be trained to use PPE correctly and know how to identify and report any faults.
What are the Different Types of PPE?
According to a 2016 Labour Force Survey (LFS), of the 5,055 non-fatal injuries reported between 2016 and 2017 for the construction industry, 13 percent were due to being struck by falling objects. This is what helmets are for. A helmet protects the wearer from the impact of falling or flying objects and from hair getting caught in machinery. It can also protect against chemical splashes.
A 2014 survey, commissioned by the European Union Occupational Safety and Health Agency, found that 63 percent of construction employees reported chemical and biological risks at work in the UK. Protective eye equipment doesn’t have to just shield the wearer’s eyes. It can also protect the face too. For example, a face shield can protect against a variety of things - such as chemical splashes, dust, gas and even radiation.
Different types of eye protection safeguard against different hazards so it’s important your choice is suitable for the job role.
Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is a special kind of PPE that offers protection for the lungs. A 2016 survey conducted by LFS found that of the 80,000 participants, 3,000 construction workers suffered from breathing and lung problems that were caused or made worse by their work. This is why RPE is essential.
High visibility clothing isn’t a fashion statement - it’s essential if you want to keep your workers safe. They ensure that your workers can be easily seen in a variety of light conditions, from low light to broad daylight.
Hi-vis vests are the most popular types of hi-vis clothing and there are different things to consider when you’re picking them for your construction team. For starters, there are different levels of protection, based on the type of clothing and level of visibility they offer. The lowest level (Class 1) should only be worn in minimal risk zones while the highest level (Class 3) provides the best chance of being visible.
According to the HSE, there has been an increase in incidences of contact dermatitis in construction workers. In addition, carpal tunnel syndrome can also affect construction workers. This is what workwear gloves are for. They’ll protect your employees’ hands and arms from abrasions, extreme temperatures, cuts, punctures, electric shocks, chemicals, vibrations and more.
Different rigger gloves offer varying levels of protection so make sure you choose the pairs that are best suited for the job role.
Of the 5,055 non-fatal injuries reported in the 2016-17 period, construction employees were most likely to suffer from slips, trips and falls. The slip and trip hazard is one of the most prevalent in every industry but is particularly so in construction as there can be a variety of debris littering the floor.
But it’s not just slip hazards. Heavy and sharp items can easily crush or pierce the feet and legs too. So, it’s important that your employees are wearing the appropriate safety footwear to ensure that their feet and legs are as protected from hazards as the rest of their body.
Make Sure Your Outdoor Workers are Protected This Summer
PPE is essential but it’s only one thing out of the many you need to make sure your outdoor workers are protected from occupational hazards. Summer brings its own set of seasonal hazards, such as UV rays and high temperatures. Download our Summer Guide which will inform you of all the summer-related hazards you need to protect against and how to go about it.