CSCS Revision on PPE

The term Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to the range of equipment and clothing that is designed to offer workers protection from various risks to health and injury while at work. Some examples of commonly used PPE in the construction industry are hard hats, safety gloves and footwear, eye and ear protection and high visibility clothing.

Before using PPE, however, the risk to workers should be fully assessed and, where possible, consideration should be given to other methods of carrying out hazardous work. With such a large variety of items from which to choose it can be difficult to know exactly what is required for any particular job. Here are some guidance on the main considerations.

Assessing Risk

Employers are required to conduct a review of the risk to health and safety with regard to any tasks that carry a substantial level of risk. Risk assessment might indicate that a job can be done without directly involving people. For example, it might be possible to use machinery instead of personnel in a particular environment. On a construction site it is clearly going to be unlikely that machines can completely replace workers so the degree of risk and the type of PPE needs to be carefully assessed.

Types of PPE

PPE is available to cover the majority of risks that can be found on most construction sites. The most obvious is the use of hard hats and safety boots and gloves when working on any part of the site. Most sites are full of noisy equipment and ear defenders are usually required.

Machine Operators

The people who work directly with machines need special consideration. Machines that have moving parts pose particular hazards and, as well as safety gloves, boots and ear defenders, operators will need eye protection in the form of goggles or even full-face masks. In addition, the environment in the vicinity of machinery is often dusty so a respirator or breathing apparatus might also be required.

Safety When Handling Chemicals

Many chemicals that are used in the workplace can be classified as being toxic, corrosive or carry a risk of irritation. As with other hazards, the risks associated with the use of these materials should be properly assessed and the appropriate PPE chosen.

To assist employers in assessing the risks chemicals are labelled with details of their composition and the hazards that they present. Chemical manufacturers also issue Material Safety Data Sheets which give further guidance on the safe handling of their products and these sheets should also be consulted when considering PPE requirements.

The Employee’s Role

All employees can expect the company for which they work to supply appropriate PPE when necessary. People who use PPE can play their part in helping to ensure a safe working environment by reporting safety equipment that appears to be damaged or unsuitable for the job in hand. They should also only use any PPE in accordance with the training they have received in its use and be aware of other workers who are in the immediate area.

Official Documents

The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) produces a range of leaflets which are designed to help employers and workers to understand the various types of PPE and when it should be used. Their website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/ppe.htm makes a good starting point for checking out official guidance.

In any industry where a task is likely to pose a significant risk to health and safety, the use of PPE must be considered. Obviously, PPE should be regarded as a last resort and other ways of carrying out a job need to be fully explored before making a decision to provide workers with protective clothing or equipment. Construction workers tend to face more risks than many other occupations because of the nature of their work, but their needs and methods of protection are identical to that of any other personnel.

Category: CSCS Test Revision

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