Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that can be used in the construction industry include:
- Eyes and face protection
- Respiratory protection
- Head protection
- Foot protection
- Hand protection
- Hearing protection
- Personal fall protection systems
Failure to use PPE, especially in the construction industry where there is a high prevalence of injuries and accidents can increase the risk of fatalities. There are a lot of physical, chemical, mechanical, and ergonomic hazards in construction sites that make workers vulnerable to occupational accidents, injuries, and fatalities. As a business owner, these incidents can damage your business and lead to costly consequences.
- Personal protective equipment on construction sites protects employees from various workplace hazards and reduces the risk of accidents and violations.
- Different types of PPE are needed for different tasks depending on worker job duties, hazards in the workplace, and others.
- Many PPE categories must meet the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) standards.
RPF Environmental provides PPE training, construction safety training, and other health and safety training programs. We also offer OSHA compliance consulting services to make sure that you comply with the agency’s PPE requirements. Contact us now to learn more about how our certified professionals can help you!
#1. Eyes and Face Protection
OSHA requires eye and face protection for employees who are exposed to eye/face hazards such as:
- Potentially injurious light radiation
- Flying particles
- Chemical gases/vapors
- Molten metal
- Caustic liquids and acids
- Liquid chemicals
For affected employees wearing prescription lenses, they should:
- Wear eye protection with incorporated prescription lenses in its design, or
- Wear eye protection that they can wear over their prescription lenses
In addition, employees should use eye protection with side protection if they are exposed to flying hazards. These side protectors can be detachable such as slide-on or clip-on shields. Employers should also ensure that employees wear equipment with appropriate filter lenses when working with dangerous light radiation.
Examples of Eyes & Face Protection
- Safety glasses with side shields
- Clear or colored goggles
- Chemical splash goggles
- Face shields for additional protection against hazards
- Masks to protect against fluids and airborne particles
Job Tasks That Require Eye & Face Protection
- Cutting and welding metals
- Dry grinding using power grinders
- Cutting cold rivets & bolts
- Using hand power tools on stone, concrete, & brickwork
- Working with molten metals
- Nailing or drilling materials
#2. Respiratory Protection
Employers must provide suitable respirators to employees who are exposed to hazardous air conditions to prevent exposure to inhalation hazards when engineering controls are not enough. Respirators should be worn when the atmosphere is suspected to contain toxic substances including fumes, vapors, dusts, fogs, smoke, gases, mists, and others. Employees should also undergo a medical evaluation to determine their ability to use respirators.
NOTE: Employers are responsible for establishing, implementing, and maintaining respiratory protection programs that include requirements in the OSHA respiratory protection standards.
Examples of Respiratory Protection PPE
- N95 masks
- Air-purifying respirators
- Atmosphere-supplying respirators
- Demand respirators
- Positive pressure respirators
- Pressure demand respirators
Job Tasks That Require Respiratory Protection
- Paint spraying
- Rock crushing
#3. Head Protection
Head protection is required when head injuries due to falling objects can happen in the work area. Protective helmets must also be water resistant, slow-burning, shield the shoulders up to the scalp, designed to reduce electrical shock hazards, and meet ANSI Standards for Industrial Head Protection.
Examples of Head Protection PPE
- Hard Hats
- Safety helmets
Job Tasks That Require Head Protection
Hard-hat areas and other areas where head injuries are possible due to impact or from:
- Flying or falling objects
- Electrical burns and shock
- Striking against structures or objects
#4. Foot Protection
Foot protection must meet the ANSI requirements as specified in the OSHA foot protection standards. The type of foot protection will depend on the workplace conditions such as the presence of ground water. They should be crush-resistant and have an impenetrable sole.
Examples of Foot Protection PPE
- Non-slip shoes
- Leather safety shoes
- Corrosive-resistant boots
Job Tasks That Require Foot Protection
Areas where foot injuries can happen due to:
- Rolling or falling objects
- Objects that pierce the sole such as nails
Other situations include those when foot protection can protect affected employees from electrical hazards (e.g. electric-shock hazard) or when working in slippery environments.
#5. Hand Protection
According to the OSHA hand protection standards, employers should select the right hand protection based on the performance of the PPE relative to:
- Job tasks
- Workplace conditions
- Identified hazards including potential hazards
- Duration of use
Protective gloves come in various designs and materials so they offer different levels of protection against risks such as extreme heat. This is why it is important to choose the right ones that can provide maximum protection against the identified hazards in the work environment. They should also fit comfortably and can be worn for long periods of time.
Examples of Hand Protection PPE
- Protective gloves (e.g. fabric, metal mesh, canvas, and leather gloves)
- Arm coverings
- Finger guards
Job Tasks That Require Protection
Employers are required to provide appropriate hand protection to employees when their hands are exposed to hazards including:
- Harmful temperatures
- Thermal burns
- Chemical burns
- Severe abrasions
- Severe cuts or lacerations
- Harmful substances
#6. Hearing Protection
Construction sites are filled with loud noises from running machinery and expose workers to continuous loud noises. Noise that is 85 dBA or higher is injurious and can cause occupational hearing loss. Hearing protection must be worn when employees are exposed to hazardous noise especially when they need to shout when talking to someone. Comfort and fit must be considered and the device should not interfere with other PPE.
Examples of Hearing Protection PPE
- Foam ear plugs
- Hearing bands
Job Tasks That Require Hearing Protection
- Working around noisy machines and equipment
#7. Personal Fall Protection Systems
Falls, slips, and trips are among the leading causes of fatalities in the construction industry which makes fall protection systems crucial in protecting construction workers. OSHA requires employers to assess the workplace to determine if work surfaces can support work activities safely and if fall protection systems are needed based on 29 CFR 1926.501. If it is determined that they are required, employers should choose fall protection systems that meet the standards in 29 CFR 1926.502.
Examples of Personal Fall Protection Systems
- Safety net systems
- Warning line systems
- Safety monitoring
- Positioning device systems
- Personal fall arrest systems
Job Tasks That Require Personal Fall Protection Systems
According to 29 CFR Subpart M (Fall Protection), employers must provide fall protection when:
- Employees are working or walking on surfaces 6 feet or more above a lower level
- Employers are working at heights below 6 feet but near hazardous equipment with drive belts, gears, pulleys, open vats, etc.
Note: Other Specialized Protective Equipment for Construction Workers Might Be Needed Depending on the Hazard or Risk Assessment
Depending on the results of the hazard and risk assessment, other special PPE might be needed to enhance worker protection. More dangerous jobs will require more sophisticated PPE. Examples of these specialized PPE include:
- Chemical-resistant sleeves and aprons
- Steel-toed shoes
- Cut-resistant gloves
- FR clothing, etc.
Other Important Things to Know About PPE in Construction
Personal Protective Equipment Requirements
Some of the PPE requirements include:
- Employers should keep employees safe when elimination, substitution, engineering controls, and administrative controls can’t completely eradicate hazards.
- Employers must provide PPE that is appropriate for the level of hazard at no cost.
- Most PPE must meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.
- Workers must be trained regarding the proper selection, usage, cleaning, and maintenance of PPE.
- PPEs must not be too loose or too tight. They should fit well and be comfortable for employees to wear.
- Multiple PPEs should not interfere with each other.
Common Construction Site Hazards that Require the USE of PPE
In summary, the common construction site hazards that employers need to protect their employees from include:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Falling and moving objects
- Hazardous noise
- Electrical hazards
- Airborne 7 material exposure (e.g. lead, asbestos)
- Stuck-by incidents
- Scaffold-related injury
- Vibration-related injury
- Material handling
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There are different types of personal protective equipment for the construction industry that offer different levels of protection. The right type of PPE for the job will depend on the identified hazards in the workplace to ensure maximum protection. They must also comply with OSHA and ANSI standards. Lastly, employees must be trained on how to properly use, clean, and maintain PPE.
RPF Environmental has certified professionals in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and beyond New England to help the construction industry create a safe workplace. We offer various health and safety training programs including PPE requirements training and construction safety. Contact us now!