17th August, 2021

10 PPE Rules For Every Construction Site Worker

Every construction site worker needs PPE, it's your last line of defence against the many hazards and risks found on site. Employers have a duty to provide PPE, and you also have responsibilities to wear and use PPE. Here are 10 PPE rules construction site workers should obey.

10 PPE Rules For Every Construction Site Worker header image

There are lots of reasons you should wear and use PPE. It protects your health. It protects your safety. And it's your last line of defence if all else fails. And on a busy construction site, where there are many hazards and risks, you need all the protection you can get.

That's why personal protective equipment (PPE) is always required in some form or another on construction sites. Many sites even display signs along the line of "No boots, no hard hat, no job". So forgetting your PPE could cost you a days work, or even get you kicked off the project.

But more importantly, not wearing your PPE, or not using it correctly could cost you your health, or even your life.

Here's 50 reasons you should wear and use PPE at work.

Why is PPE so important in construction work?

Because construction work involves high risks, and even with all the other control measures that should be in place to protect you from these risks, PPE will always be an important safety measure.

Risks should be controlled first, for example, to avoid materials falling from overhead. But if those control measures fail, your hard hat could be the only thing left to protect you.

PPE is intended to protect you from risks, which cannot be eliminated or guarded against by other more effective means. Think of it as a backup measure. You hope you won't need it, but if you do you will be glad it's there.

Raise awareness of the importance of PPE with our free PPE use toolbox talk. A toolbox talk is also a great opportunity for questions and issues to be raised about PPE.

PPE is defined in the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations as "all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health or safety". This can include safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.

hearing protection PPE

Your employer must assess the work you do and take all reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce risks. If they decide that some risk remains, then your employer must provide you with PPE.

While your employer will provide you with PPE, you also have a responsibility and there are certain rules you should obey with PPE use.

Here are the 10 rules of PPE use on construction sites:

1. You have a duty to wear any PPE provided by your employer

Your employer has a duty, not only to provide you with PPE but also to see that you wear it. That hi-viz vest isn't going to get you noticed hanging up in the site office, but it will help make you visible on your back!

You must wear the PPE provided, it's the law.

  1. Every employee shall use any personal protective equipment provided [...] in accordance both with any training in the use of the personal protective equipment concerned which has been received by him and the instructions respecting that use which have been provided [...]

2. You must wear and use the PPE in the way it was intended

When you are issued with (or purchase PPE) make sure it fits you and is compatible with other items you will be wearing. Don't wear your hard hat too loose, or wear your hi-viz under a coat - if it's not serving its purpose, it's almost as bad as not wearing it at all.

3. Report it if PPE doesn’t fit correctly

A common reason for PPE non-compliance is that PPE is too loose, or too tight, or uncomfortable. If you are issued with PPE that doesn't fit, don't just take it off. Report the issue and get another size.

worker wearing multiple items of PPE

4. PPE must be suitable for the risk and the job at hand

What use is a dust mask if you are being exposed to harmful gases that float right through the filter? Not much!

Don't just wear PPE for the sake of it, check that it's the right equipment for the job. Consider the hazards you are up against, and make sure that if it's needed your PPE will protect you.

5. PPE must not itself create a new risk

PPE is there to reduce risk, not increase it. If your PPE is hindering your work, for example, making you work in an awkward posture or preventing a quick escape in the event of an emergency, then it's not helping you.

6. Never abuse PPE

You have a duty to take care of the PPE and to not abuse it. If you damage your PPE, it won't perform as it should. For example, throwing your hard hat on the floor will weaken the structure, or not changing filters or fitting the wrong parts will prevent PPE from working effectively.

Damage to PPE only puts you in more danger.

7. Check before taking PPE off-site

When PPE is issued to you, it remains the property of your employer or PPE provider. You can't take PPE off-site unless your employer says you can. Otherwise, you must return it to the appropriate storage place after use.

  1. Every employee and self-employed person who has been provided with personal protective equipment by virtue of regulation 4 shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that it is returned to the accommodation provided for it after use.
hard hats on construction site

8. Ask for training when needed

If you are unsure about how to use PPE (e.g. breathing apparatus) ask for training first. Some PPE is straightforward, e.g. wearing safety boots or hi-viz, but some can be more complex, e.g. harnesses and lanyards, respiratory masks etc. You must be adequately trained for the PPE you use.

Where an employer is required to ensure that personal protective equipment is provided to an employee, the employer shall also ensure that the employee is provided with such information, instruction and training as is adequate and appropriate

9. Make sure PPE is maintained

If there is anything wrong with the PPE provided e.g. worn out, broken, missing, In need of maintenance or cleaning etc. you must report it for replacement or repair by an authorised person. Never carry out makeshift repairs yourself, and always use manufacturer recommended parts.

10. Use compatible PPE

When you wear more than one item of PPE, it's important that they don't conflict with one another.

For example, will those ear defenders fit with your hard hat? Will that face mask work with your eye protection? Make sure multiple items of PPE worn together are compatible with each other.

Remember, the law does not expect your boss to be psychic, and they may not always notice an issue or know when someone has removed an item of PPE on site. If you know of a problem regarding PPE or a risk that you need guarding against, let your employer or supervisor know. You can help create a safer workplace for you and your team.

Use the PPE checklist form to check that the PPE issued is suitable and sufficient for the user and the task.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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