Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an essential component of all jobs within the construction industry and saves countless lives each year. We’ll review some of the most important forms of PPE used in the construction industry and discuss the characteristics of each. The following requirements are sourced from OSHA standards, specifically 29 CFR 1926.
Occupational Foot Protection
Individuals who work in construction should ensure that their shoes have toe protection, slip resistance, puncture resistance, and electrical hazard protection. To provide protection in each of these areas, work boots should possess safety steel toes, a rubber outsole, leather upper, and non-skid soles.
Employees who work in job sites with exposure to falling or flying objects, electrical shock, or burns must wear protective helmets to prevent head injuries. Protective helmets must be penetration-resistant, water- and fire-resistant, and shock-absorbent to provide the safest environment. Additionally, they must come with instructions related to proper adjustment and replacement, a hard outer shell, and a shock-absorbing lining with a headband and suspension straps that suspend the shell between 2.54 and 3.18 centimeters away from the head.
Construction workers who are exposed to 85 dBA or greater for 8 hours are at an increased risk for damaged hearing. When these individuals are not able to use other control strategies to reduce noise levels, they must wear appropriate hearing protection. Some of the most popular and effective forms of hearing protection equipment include roll-down foam earplugs, reusable earplugs, custom-molded earplugs, canal caps, and earmuffs.
Eye and Face Protection
Eye and face protection is required to protect against chemical, environmental, radiological, or mechanical irritants and hazards. The equipment must not interfere with the user’s movements or work tasks and should be easily cleanable. It is best practice to use eye and face protection that includes side protection or a one-piece lens that wraps around the temple and has angle adjustment points to help with creating a secure and personalized fit.
Employees who are at risk of exposure to industrial sprays, dust, fumes, particulate materials, and other respiratory hazards must wear some form of respiratory protection. While wearing a simple dust mask may suffice in some situations, other cases may require equipment such as a full mask with a visor, a welding helmet, or a respirator. Employees who may be exposed to hazards such as asbestos, lead-based paint fumes, or concrete that contains silica, or will perform sanding, cutting, or welding are required to use a respirator. Assuming there is enough oxygen present, workers may use an air-purifying respirator. If working conditions are less optimal, then a supplied air respirator is necessary.-