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Do you have the correct building site PPE?

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
23rd January 2014

If you or your employees work or spend any time on a building site then it’s imperative that the correct PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is worn at all times. Having the wrong PPE or not wearing any at all could seriously put you and others in danger, especially considering the dangerous nature of a building site. Here’s what you need to consider before stepping foot onto a building site or allowing anyone else onto your site…   

Hard Hats

Hard hats can protect from falling material, but also in cases of slips, trips and falls. The Construction (Head protection) Regulations 1989 state that hard hats are required where there is risk of head injury due to falling materials or where people might hit their head. If you think about it, there are a huge number of possible hazards on a building site that involve the possibility of falling materials. A roofer may dislodge a slate or drop one he’s fitting; something may fall off some scaffolding; a crane or digger may drop something; something may fall into an excavation onto anyone working below - the list is endless! All employees and visitors should be provided with hard hats and rules should be stringent on when and where they are required to be worn. It’s also worth noting that there are different types of hard hat, with some having extra ‘features’ such as sweat bands or webbing to increase comfort. You will likely pay more for the more elaborate hard hats but if it means people are more likely to wear them then surely it’s worth the extra cost?

Protective Footwear

Protective footwear should be worn on a building site if there’s a danger that something could fall on their feet or someone could step on something hazardous, both of which are possible. Boots with steel toecaps and midsoles are a wise decision, although there are a wide variety of style available, so it may be worth putting in a bit of research before deciding on a particular type. Wellington boots are also very useful to have on site for laying cement or concrete. Not everyone knows this but when cement is mixed with water it becomes highly corrosive and can easily cause nasty burns. Wellington boots should help guard against this.

Safety Goggles & Glasses

Goggles and safety spectacles can help protect from flying objects (such as wood or metal cuttings), sparks (eg. from disc-cutting), chemical splashes and a variety of other hazards that could cause damage to the eye. Specialist goggles are also available to help protect against ultraviolet radiation from welding. Much like hard hats, always ensure that safety goggles are readily available for everyone who needs them. Furthermore, if there’s need, visors can be worn to protect the whole face, for example from acids or other corrosive materials.


Most gloves may not protect massively from falling objects, but they are still necessary to guard against a number of other hazards. They can protect your hands from cuts and splinters and also against corrosive materials should they splash on your hands.

High-Visibility Clothing

It’s simple; if you can’t be seen on a building site, then there’s a greater risk of injury. First and foremost, people shouldn’t be asked to work in places that could put them in an unreasonable amount of danger of being hit by a vehicle or other employees in any way. High-vis clothing should be made available to anyone on a building site, particularly in low light conditions and if there’s heavy machinery around. For example, someone signalling to a crane or truck should be highly visible at all times to reduce the risk of them getting hit by the vehicles.

Outdoor Clothing

This is one area of PPE that can often get overlooked. If employees are working outdoors then they need to be adequately protected against the elements. Water and windproof clothing may be required if the weather is inclement, and a place to store clothing and dry wet clothing may also be wise. However, care also needs to be taken when the sun is shining. It’s all too easy (even in the UK) to get sunburned if you’re working outside for extended periods of time. As such, clothing should be provided that covers arms and legs, and workers should also be provided with sun cream to rub onto exposed areas. This is quite a basic rundown of the kinds of PPE that should be worn on a building site, but it’s a start. Also, it’s vital that all PPE is kept in good condition; having poor maintained PPE is almost as bad as having none at all. Here at Phoenix, we can give you more thorough health and safety training on how to stay safe on a building site. Visit our CITB Construction Skills Site Safety Plus page to learn more, or contact us on 0345 500 8811 to speak to one of our helpful and friendly team. Posted in General Information on 23rd January 2014 by Phoenix Health & Safety.