Capital projects are complex and contain many moving parts that can introduce hazards and potential risks to even the most experienced craft workers. While there are many precautions put in place to help mitigate some of the various risks associated with construction, it’s necessary to emphasize the importance of PPE in construction for worksite safety for the benefit of the workers, the project, and the client.
The Importance of PPE in Construction: Utilize Proper Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is the last line of defense against hazards. While PPE is of the utmost importance on the job site, processes such as a job safety analysis (JSA) can help identify the hazards workers may encounter while performing their tasks. Since accidents do happen, and it’s not always possible to prevent them, PPE can protect workers from severe injuries and can save capital projects from time delays.
The hierarchy of controls should be utilized when identifying ways to remove or reduce hazards during a project. These are:
- Elimination: If possible, physically remove the hazard (i.e., remove the electrical cord causing a tripping hazard).
- Substitution: If possible, replace the hazard (i.e., choose a less hazardous chemical).
- Engineering: If possible, isolate people from the hazard (i.e., build scaffolding and work platforms as opposed to using ladders).
- Administrative: If possible, change processes and the way people work (i.e., develop procedures and training for employees).
- PPE: The last line of ‘defense’ is to protect workers with PPE (i.e., use safety glasses to protect from flying debris).
When selecting a contractor for your capital project, it’s crucial to assess the contractor's values on safety, and the commitment to high-quality PPE, which can be costly. High-quality PPE will improve protection and is more likely to be used and maintained by workers. Without appropriate care, the PPE will degrade quicker and, over time, will need to be replaced, costing contractors and clients more in the long run.
Assessing a contractor's project safety plan for construction is also an important step in mitigating risks and eliminating hazards. The policies and implementations contractors utilize can also give insight into their assessment level of the importance of PPE in construction.
Who is Responsible For PPE?
While it’s the contractor's responsibility to provide high-quality PPE, each employee is also responsible for their safety. Employees must inspect their PPE every day before every use. Supervisors should help maintain and check that employees are utilizing the proper PPE and maintaining compliance procedures.
The Importance of PPE in Construction for Risk Management
There are numerous risks associated with construction, ranging anywhere from minor to severe. Risks must be mitigated wherever possible. PPE can benefit the risk management side of construction in capital projects and work as another line of defense for workers, contractors, and clients.
Let's discuss the importance of PPE for each.
The Importance of PPE for Workers
The first importance of PPE in construction is that of the worker's safety. If a person is injured, this can and will impact the rest of their life. It affects their financial situation, family, and psyche. PPE, if used properly, can reduce the impact or save workers from dangerous scenarios that could potentially injure them and cause severe ramifications in their day-to-day life forever.
The Importance of PPE for Contractors
Contractors run a risk if they do not implement the proper use and care of PPE. If a worker is injured, they will need to find a replacement. If that worker had a special skill set that is unique to find but necessary to the capital project, the timeline of the project becomes skewed, and they may not be able to find a replacement in time. This also results in additional costs of taking care of the employee and their medical costs, along with impacting the company’s safety metrics. If a contractor has poor metrics, clients will not want to work with them.
The Importance of PPE for Clients
Finally, clients also have potential risks when dealing with contractors who utilize improper PPE or none at all. If incidents are occurring and are not being dealt with, these incidents are going to continue to happen. This may cause timeline delays and increased costs.
Necessary PPE: A Checklist
The importance of PPE in construction extends as far as having a checklist of the necessary equipment for your workers. Besides ensuring there is a main PPE checklist when purchasing proper equipment, it’s also essential to provide a personalized PPE checklist for workers to utilize when getting ready. Download H+M Industrial EPC’s PPE checklist here.
If you are interested in creating your own PPE checklist, we recommend conducting a risk assessment to address:
- Head protection
- Eye protection
- Face protection
- Respiratory protection
- Hand protection
- Skin protection
- Hearing protection
It’s also essential to ensure that every worker has proper training in putting on and taking off PPE, and should be held as refresher training frequently.
H+M Industrial: Select A Contractor With PPE Training Services
Losing trust in a contractor is never something that you want. That is why researching contractors is so important prior to hiring for your EPC capital project. H+M Industrial EPC is proud to hold Best in Class for our category, at the 35th Annual Houston Safety Excellence Awards.