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Personal Protective Equipment on Construction Sites

Construction workers face hazardous situations on a regular basis. As a result, they are typically required to use of specific safety equipment to protect them from harm. To aid both workers and employers in choosing the appropriate safety gear and avoiding personal injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued personal protective equipment, or PPE, guidelines.

OSHA's guidelines extensively address recommendations for equipment to be worn by the workers and the best practices for equipment frequently used by construction workers.

In terms of the equipment worn by employees, OSHA suggests that workers use protection such as:

  • Safety glasses or face shields, whenever there is a chance of contact with dangerous items
  • Work shoes, with special soles to prevent falls and punctures
  • Appropriate gloves, depending on the type of work involved
  • Hard hats, if workers are in tight spaces, might be hit by falling objects or are near electrical hazards

Elaborating on its recommendations, OSHA specifically states that eye or face protection should be used at any time a worker is engaged in electrical work. Further, OSHA's guidelines suggest that choosing the type of protection a worker will use should be based on the potential hazards involved in the job.

Of course, it is always advisable to inspect safety equipment prior to its use, to ensure it has not been damaged inadvertently. In particular, OSHA recommends regularly inspecting hard hats to check for "dents, cracks or deterioration." Occasionally, safety equipment will be damaged beyond repair. In those incidents, it is critical to dispose of the broken gear, as it may no longer properly protect workers from potential harm.

Employers have a responsibility to provide "safe and healthful working conditions," for their employees. If an employer fails to provide such a work environment, it may be held liable for injuries sustained by its employees on the job site.

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