Personal Protective Equipment for Injury Reduction

Source: Oregon Department of Transportation

Although personal protective gear should be the last line of defence against hazards on a construction site, they are still a pre-requisite for work on building sites. This is because safety procedures can be put in place to deal with hazards that cannot be eliminated but this does not mean that accidents do not occur. Sometimes accidents are inevitable and PPE reduce the harm done to a worker in the event that an incident does occur.

Personal Protective Equipment is clothing or equipment designed to control risks to health and safety in the workplace but PPE are only effective if used correctly for the correct purpose. That is why workers must undergo training on the PPE needed for their site’s hazards and how to safely and correctly utilise PPE. PPE are also only effective if they are in good working order that is why they need to be maintained and cleaned regularly.

As an employee in the construction industry you have a legal obligation to adhere to your employer’s health and safety requirements, including the use of PPE if instructed by your employer.

Steps in Preventing Harm caused by Hazards:

1. Once hazards have been identified on a site employers should first attempt to eliminate the hazard and if this is not possible, substitute the hazard with something less dangerous.

2. In many cases this will not be possible and so isolation of the hazard should be the next resort. This can be done by physically separating the hazard from workers.

3. The next measure that employers should undertake to control hazards is to implement engineering measures such as machine guarding for example depending on the hazard.

4. Administrative measures can also be implemented to reduce the risk of harm an example would be developing rosters to rotate dangerous work among workers or erecting additional signage on site.

5. The final measure in the arsenal of construction workers is personal protective equipment. These are the least effective measures and should be the last resort. They are worn to reduce the impact of the hazard but should not be the only measure relied on by employers and workers.

Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while at a construction site whether you are working or overseeing the work on a construction site. This includes hard hats, safety glasses, dust masks, gloves and the proper clothing like thick-soled construction boots. Workers should protect their ears around loud power equipment with earplugs.

For night work or where there is poor visibility luminous vests or protective equipment should be worn. As an employee in the construction industry you have a legal obligation to adhere to your employer’s health and safety requirements, including the use of personal protective equipment if instructed by your employer. Refusal to cooperate with these safety policies can result in disciplinary action or prosecution. Employers have a responsibility to pay for and provide PPE and employees must utilise it as required.