The Importance of the PPE & On Site Safety – The Key to Personal Safety on Site

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is an essential element of health and safety for any building site environment. Whilst PPE often remains the property of the employer providing the equipment, once issued to an individual, it is that individuals responsibility to keep it safe, to ensure that it is kept in good working order, and to wear it, or use it, whenever appropriate. Basic PPE for workers on a construction job would comprise of (but is not limited to):
  • Safety Helmet (Hard Hat)
  • Safety Boots (Steel Toe Capped)
  • Safety Glasses or Goggles
  • Protective Gloves (Various types are available)
  • Ear Defenders
  • High Visibility Over-clothes

Health And Safety Is Improving In The UK

The number of injuries occurring at work has also fallen significantly from 336,701, 40 years ago, to 78,222 now.

PPE is Defined by a Risk Assessment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is defined by carrying out a risk assessment (refer to the risk assessment section) that covers either an environment, (in this case a construction site), or a specific task, such as carpentry or bricklaying for example. The risk assessment is one of the keystones of health and safety in action because it examines the nature and circumstances of any task, to discover, highlight, and mitigate any hazards that may be encountered through best practice, as defined in a method statement, (refer to the separate section on method statements) and the use of specific PPE. Depending on the nature of the work in question, certain items of PPE (for example Hard Hats and safety glasses on a construction site), must be worn at all times. The use of PPE sometimes can create or contribute to hazards for a contractor under certain extreme circumstances, heat stress; impaired vision or mobility are examples. Open and honest two way communication will ensure that these risks are kept to a minimum. PPE must be one of the main issues discussed during the initial site safety induction course and daily site briefings should include any changes within the work place.

PPE and the Small Building Contractor

PPE is not expensive but it saves lives. It is one of the most important aspects of health and safety best practice in any working environment, second only to the site safety induction which must be attended by anyone visiting the site. All employers are legally obliged to ensure that the workers they employ are correctly outfitted with the appropriate PPE for any specific task. Some small building contractors may specify that their employees must provide their own PPE such as Hard Hats for example. However, if this is the case, they cannot evade the responsibility for ensuring that the correct PPE is worn by workers in every instance. It is of paramount importance, not only for the safety of the workers, but for their own protection against claims for subsequent accidents and damages that could occur through non availability or incorrect use of PPE.

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