Ensuring effective Use of PPE on Construction Sites

For contractors it is not enough to just supply workers with personal protective equipment, it is also vital that they are trained on the correct use of this equipment to ensure that it is effective in preventing injury or minimizing the injury caused by accidents.

Personal protective equipment (aka PPE) is anything used or worn by a person to minimise the risk to the person’s health and safety.

Some examples of PPE which are often utilised in construction are:

  • eye protection such as goggles, glasses and face shields
  • hearing protection – ear plugs and ear muffs
  • respiratory protection such as, filter respirators and airline respirators
  • foot protection for example, safety shoes and boots, spats and rubber boots
  • head protection in the form of hard hats, helmets and broad brimmed hats
  • body protection such as aprons, overalls, gloves and high visibility clothing
  • And any substance used to protect health, such as sunscreen for workers who operate outdoors.

It is important that when employers or persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) are considering PPE to minimise risk to health and safety they ensure that they consider whether the PPE is:

  • Well suited to the nature of the work and any associated hazard
  • Is a suitable size and fit and is comfortable enough for a person to wear and doesn’t interfere with or hinder their work tasks
  • Is maintained, repaired or replaced so it continues to effectively minimise the risk to the worker utilising it
  • Is used or worn by the worker, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Although PPE cannot prevent an accident from happening and so should never be the only form of protection, they can help to minimise the effects of an accident on a worker’s health. For example wearing a hard hat will not prevent objects from falling but they will minimise the injury a falling object can do to a worker if it strikes them in the head.

PPE is one of the least effective ways of controlling risks to health and safety and therefore should only be used when there are no other practical control measures available or as an interim measure until a more effective way of controlling the risk can be used. PPE could also be used to supplement higher level control measures.

PPE must be provided to workers free of charge and they should be trained on its effective use. Employers and their employees should also ensure that PPE are kept in good working condition to ensure their continued effectiveness. It is an offence for employers to charge workers for providing PPE.

When choosing the right PPE for the job, employers the selection processes must include consultation with workers and also include an evaluation of the risk and performance requirements for the PPE.

Employers should consider the compatibility of PPE items where more than one type of PPE is required and should consult with the supplier to make sure that the PPE is suitable for the type of work being undertaken and the workplace conditions.

Remember:  Construction site safety starts with getting a White Card – you can get yours from www.whitecardonline.com.au

Posted by Construction Safety News Admin
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