Safety equipment is a key consideration in any industrial or construction setting. From items falling from a height to exposed cables and wiring, there are many potential risks to be aware of on building and construction sites, so having the right protective wear is crucial for protecting your employees and yourself.
But work on a site can last months, even years in some cases, and while you might have provided your team with personal protective equipment (PPE) at the start of the project, you may be finding that you’re constantly replacing goggles, gloves, and other forms for safety equipment.
There are ways to prevent churning through so much PPE, however. If you want to find ways to make these essentials last longer, read on.
How to make PPE go further
While PPE is essential, constantly replacing key items can be expensive. It is possible to prolong the life of certain pieces of safety wear, however.
First, invest in high quality products. While it may seem expensive initially, searching for durable PPE means you’re more likely to see this equipment last longer than less expensive equivalents.
Also, focus on the pieces that see the most wear and tear. Gloves and footwear are the items that are most likely to need replacing as these constantly come into contact with hard surfaces and heavy objects.
While most sites expect workers to pay for their own work boots, if you’re able to buy these for your employees or recommend footwear that could last, you’re going a long way towards helping them save money in the long run.
You could suggest workers buy two pairs of work boots for each employee so that they can swap between the two, allowing the first pair time to dry out. However, if they buy robust, waterproof footwear made from materials that can withstand tough conditions, they’re more likely to only need one pair.
Why is PPE so important?
It’s worth remembering why we use PPE. According to statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) annually between 2017/18 and 2019/20, 610,000 workers on average were injured in workplace accidents. A further 559,000 workers suffered a new case of ill health that they believed to be caused or made worse by their work.
In the 2019/20 period, slips, trips or falls accounted for 29% of non-fatal injuries, while almost a fifth (19%) of injuries were caused by handling, lifting, or carrying, and 11% were struck by a moving object.
While some of these incidents may not have been related to the PPE the workers were wearing, having the best quality protective wear for your employees can go a long way towards preventing injuries.
What PPE is essential on a construction site?
You might already have everything in place, but it’s good to have a checklist to refer to in order to make sure that your employees are fully equipped and protected while they work. The HSE states there are four legally required pieces of protective wear for all construction sites. These are foot and head protection, body protection, and high visibility clothing, such as fluorescent vests.
These guidelines are the bare minimum, however, and it’s always advisable to go further to provide protection. Do a health and safety assessment to see where injuries may occur and add appropriate PPE for the job.
For instance, the HSE doesn’t mention eye protection, but flying debris is a real injury risk, so safety glasses would be advisable here. Similarly, hands should be covered, especially if workers are lifting heavy items or using cutting tools.
Review your PPE
Allocate time to review the PPE you have for your employees. Look at provisions each quarter to see if anything needs restocking and always look to invest in quality in order to prolong the lifespan of safety wear.