The usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on a job such as construction or involving heavy machinery can literally be the difference between life and death. Workers need the equipment necessary to safely and efficiently perform their jobs and operate the machines associated with their job. PPE includes items such as safety harnesses and as simple as light, thin vests.
The hard hat is the most vital piece of PPE for construction jobs. The safety helmet protects the wearer from falling objects and other head injuries. Workers should ensure that the safety helmets meet the OSHA standards or the ANZI z89.1 standard. Safety helmets should be checked regularly; the exterior should be free from cracks, and the interior should not have excess wear that would prevent shock absorption.
Safety shoes protect the wearer’s feet from injury. Many safety shoes are steel-toed, steel-heeled, or both, though this is not always required. The nature of the work will determine what type of safety shoes will be appropriate for the workers.
Reflective vests make the wearer more visible, especially at night. The reflective vests reduce the chances of a worker being injured because another worker, such as a heavy machinery operator, did not see the worker.
Safety goggles prevent injury to the eyes and face due to debris or impact. Safety goggles are worn over glasses so workers do not have to choose between their vision and their safety. It is important to check the safety goggles for cracks or other damage before beginning or resuming work.
Safety gloves reduce the wear and pain that workers might suffer from handing coarse materials for extended periods of time. The nature of the work will determine what type of safety gloves the worker will wear (i.e. insulated rubber gloves for electricians).
Hearing protection is used on sites with excessive loud noises such as airplane engines or constant drilling. Types of hearing protection include earmuffs, earplugs, and headsets.
Safety harnesses are vital for workers on sites where the worksite is elevated by 2 meters or more. Safety harnesses are made from nylon or a material that is at least as strong. The safety harness must be configured properly to protect the worker from a fall, which includes proper anchoring of the harness to a point that can withstand at least 5,000 pounds of pressure.
Safety Tools in Construction
Backup cameras for heavy equipment allow the machinery operator to check for workers, machines, and obstacles behind the heavy equipment. Many backup cameras also record, which can be useful in the event of an accident. Note that backup cameras are not a substitute for manually checking the sides of the heavy equipment being operated or using a ground guide when necessary.
Halo lights are powerful flashlights that attach to the safety helmet. Some halo lights can be seen up to a quarter of a mile away from the wearer. The halo light can make night work safer and more efficient due to its strength and hands-free placement.
Automated drones can be used to inspect potentially dangerous areas without endangering workers. Drones can inspect scaffoldings for safety, check on the integrity of trenches, and perform other reconnaissance activities that might put a worker at risk.
Safety apps help foremen manage their equipment and workers. Data such as fuel usage, maintenance schedules, and hours of equipment usage are updated and presented to foremen. When used properly on a job site, a safety app can save time, money, and lives.
One product in development is a safety smartphone that detects heat. The safety smartphone will have a FLIR thermal camera which can display heat in the infrared spectrum. This will allow the users to either prevent a heat-related incident or clear the site to minimize human casualties.
OSHA requirement 1910.132 pertains to general requirements that address all forms of PPE. The requirement states that PPE must be maintained so it is in a reliable and sanitary state. The employer is responsible for the safety of employee-owned equipment. The employer is also responsible for surveying the worksite and determining what PPE is required for the job. The use of defective or damaged PPE is strictly prohibited. The employer is responsible for training employees on the proper use of PPE. The employee must exhibit comprehension of proper PPE use before being permitted to work on the worksite. The employer does not have to pay for non-specialty safety shoes or safety goggles that can be worn off of the worksite, everyday clothing, clothing designed to protect from weather, purposefully-damaged PPE, or PPE that the employee previously owned. Any PPE that does not fall into any of the specified categories, though, must be purchased by the employer.
Safety is critical in construction jobs due to the danger involved. Construction workers are urged to seek training in PPE as soon as possible and to check their PPE before each shift and after each break.
For more details about heavy equipment training, visit HEC website!