Construction sites, by their nature, are hazardous environments, where workers face various risks such as falling objects, electrical hazards, debris, excessive dust, and other harmful substances. Throughout the UK, there are several laws and regulations in place to keep workers safe and minimise the risk of injuries occurring. Part of these regulations cover Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The PPE clothing and equipment required on a construction site can vary depending on the hazards currently present, but typically protective headwear, footwear, and some form of high-visibility jacket or vest is required. Each site and each company overseeing the construction will also have their own specific rules regarding PPE, these rules must be followed, or you may be asked to leave the site.
Is PPE Required On Construction Sites By Law?
Yes, some PPE is legally required to be worn on construction sites. This is because there are risks that are present on every construction site, so steps must be taken to ensure the safety of workers and limit the risk of injuries or accidents occurring.
There are very few exceptions to these requirements, however, Section 11(1) of the Employment Act 1989 as amended by Section 6 of the Deregulation Act 2015 exempts turban-wearing Sikhs from any legal requirement to wear a safety helmet in a workplace, including a construction site. This applies to both visitors and employees, although there is no such exemption for other religious groups, or Sikhs that choose not to wear a turban.
The Types Of PPE Needed On A Construction Site
Each construction site is presented with its own set of hazards and risks that must be accounted for during a risk assessment, as appropriate PPE relevant to the risks must be used. The most common types of PPE you will find on a construction site are:
Head Protection: Overhead dangers, such as falling debris, machinery, or other impacts to the head are prevalent on a construction site, so this PPE will almost always be seen in use.
Hi-vis Clothing: To be seen is to be safe, ensuring you can be easily seen reduces the risk of any incidents occurring. Hi-vis clothing is one of the most prominent pieces of PPE seen in construction.
Hand Protection: Falling bricks, chemical burns, and other hazards can damage your hands. Protective gloves must be worn to ensure the safety of staff on site, whether that's from bricks, machinery, or cement.
Foot Protection: Added protection from falling debris, as well as trips and sharp objects, the right safety footwear is essential to protecting workers' feet, often requiring steel-toe-capped shoes or boots.
Hearing Protection: With industrial machinery producing excessive noise, ear defenders are crucial to protecting your team's ears against auditory damage.
What If Required PPE Is Not Used?
If regulations and laws are not followed, some consequences may happen, which can vary in severity depending on specific circumstances.
Injuries: Without the appropriate PPE to protect employees, the risk of injury is significantly higher. Impacts to the head, eye damage from flying particles, respiratory diseases from inhaling dust/fumes, chemical burns, and foot injuries can be very severe and have a large impact on the employee's quality of life for at least several weeks.
Diseases: Breathing in harmful particles and unclean air without protection from a respirator can significantly increase the risk of workers developing occupational diseases, which can have a huge impact on the rest of their lives.
Employment: All construction sites have rules for following PPE regulations, failure to follow these rules could result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment, causing significant distress to the worker.
Legal Liability: As an employer, you have a duty to ensure the safety of your team. If you allow employees to work without the right PPE, you could face serious legal consequences for failing to enforce regulations. This can include fines, legal action from an injured employee, as well as damage to your company's reputation.
Reduced Productivity: With risks of injury higher without protection, paired with injured employees, your team's productivity will be seriously harmed.
Poor Morale: A culture that does not take PPE seriously can lead to lower morale, increased absenteeism, and a higher risk of accidents.
Explore Our Range Of Workwear & PPE Ideal For Construction Sites
At Direct Corporate Clothing, we're a trusted PPE supplier to countless brands looking to secure their worker's safety, including Sodexo, Network Rail, and Mitie. We offer a comprehensive range of workwear and PPE for many industries, including construction, ensuring your team's safety no matter the environment.
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