Protecting the Head
Head protection is necessary from many kinds of hazards. This includes flying or falling objects, where there is a risk of bumping into things, chemical drips, hair getting entangled in machinery etc.
Where hard hats are used they should be in good condition, otherwise they will not provide good protection. They should comfortably fit the person wearing them and they shouldn’t restrict the wearer wearing ear protectors if they require. They must be obtained from a reputable supplier. Other forms of head protection could include hairnets (but hardhats are required on construction sites).
Protecting the Eyes
Hazards to the eyes can include that from dust, projectiles, chemical or metal splashes and that from radiation. The wearing of goggles would be required here. Other forms of eye protection include face shields and visors. The correct type of eye protection must be sought, for example, in very dusty places, face visors may not totally protect the eyes from dust but may provide adequate protection from welding sparks. Each need would need to be assessed individually.
Protecting the Ears
The hazard here is noise. Even short high level sounds can be harm full to the ears. Options here include earplugs, earmuffs and canal caps.
Protecting the Hands
Hazards to the hands include cuts and punctures, electric shock, chemical burns, vibration, biological agents and temperature extremes etc. One should wear gloves, especially those with a cuff. Where necessary, gauntlets should be worn which cover the cuffs and even the whole arm. However, the tasks must be risk-assessed, for example, gloves can get caught when operating bench drills and operating machinery. Remember one’s hands are one’s wage-earners!
Protecting the Feet
Hazards here include wet and cold conditions, slipping, cuts and punctures, heavy loads, vehicles, chemical splashes etc. Protective toecaps and penetration-resistant safety shoes should be used. Footwear can have different types of soles, for example, oil or chemical resistant soles.
Protecting the Lungs
Sometimes on construction sites, it may be necessary to wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE), for example, in confined spaces and oxygen deficient spaces. If there are hazards to the lungs due to oxygen-deficient atmospheres, very dusty atmospheres, gases and vapours present, RPE may be required. Respirators can be simple fitting face pieces or power-assisted respirators. If necessary, respirators which give an independent supply of breathable air via a fresh air hose can be used. However, RPE are usually a last resort, as they can be cumbersome to use and it must be assessed whether they could pose more of a risk to the job than is already there.
Protecting the whole body
Hazards here could include chemical splashes, excessive exposure to heat, impact or penetration, entanglement of own clothing etc. Sometimes on construction sites, boiler suits and chemical suits are used. Materials could include high visibility, flame retardant, anti-static and those which are chemically impermeable.
Employers have a duty under the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended) to ensure that their employees are not harmed in the course of their work. There are also other specialist regulations when working with asbestos, lead, radiation, and noise. Basically, the regulations require that the PPE is properly assessed before use so that it’s fit for purpose. Also, that it’s maintained and stored properly. Employees should also be properly trained in its use.