Construction safety and personal protective equipment

Ensuring the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the best ways employers can improve safety and reduce the risk of construction-related accidents. It’s a lot like wearing a seatbelt while riding in a car: it won’t prevent all accidents, but the right construction safety equipment makes it less likely that an accident will cause serious injury or death.

A male worker had an accident after not following construction safety rules

Required PPE

Employers must do their best to keep their workers and visitors to their construction sites safe. According to the Environmental Health and Safety Department at Princeton University, every worker on a construction site should wear a hard hat and safety glasses. High visibility safety vests are required when the site exposes workers to vehicle traffic. In addition, all workers should wear long pants, shirts with sleeves, and work boots.

In some cases where other hazards are present, workers should also wear additional construction safety equipment. This may include:

  • Protective gloves
  • Hearing protection
  • Full face shields for cutting, grinding, or chipping,
  • Chemical splash goggles
  • Respiratory protection
  • Fall protection equipment when working above 6 feet.
  • Specific protective clothing, such as FR clothing for working with electricity or welding leathers when welding.

The risks of not using PPE

There are numerous cases when workers may prefer not to use appropriate PPE. For example, let’s say Joe works at an outdoor construction site, and it’s ninety degrees outside. Joe might easily prefer to do his work in a tank top, or to take off his hard hat if he doesn’t think it’s dangerous.

PPE is required, though, because of the risks Joe doesn’t see. Just like the seatbelt, construction safety equipment is there to protect him when the unexpected happens.

Employer responsibilities in regards with construction safety

Keeping employees safe in their working environments is good business since it reduces the likelihood that a worker will become unavailable through injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) makes employers responsible for “requiring the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment in all operations.”

That’s because workers will too often trade comfort for risk. In the example above, Joe is more worried about staying cool than wearing the right clothes or keeping his hard hat on. The heat might also make the dust mask uncomfortable, and his body heat might steam up safety goggles.

However, if his employer fails to require proper PPE, they may be subject to fines and other penalties even if there isn’t an accident. If there is, and it’s found that Joe’s employer let him work without the right construction safety equipment, Joe might have grounds to bring a suit.

Construction Safety Statistics Infographic

An infographic with 8 Construction safety statistics.
1.  1 in 5 deaths among U.S. workers is in the construction industry.
2. Workers’ compensation claims for nonfatal falls account for $2.5 billion annually.
3. Construction workers between the ages 25-34 are most likely to sustain injury.
4. More than 25% of construction workers indicate that they have failed to report a work-related injury.
5. The “Fatal Four” leading causes of construction deaths (falls, struck by equipment, caught in between objects and electrocutions) account for over 60% of all construction-related deaths.
6. Total workplace injury costs exceed $170 billion for construction companies each year.
7. Of the 42 annual crane-related deaths, approximately 60% involve a falling object.
8. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties can cost anywhere from $13,653 to $136,532 for safety violations.

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If you’ve been injured at work

Workers compensation insurance provides benefits to employees who are injured at work. For severe injuries, most workers benefit from working with a construction lawyer who can guide them through the process. That’s especially true when the worker’s employer doesn’t provide or require the proper PPE.

The construction industry lawyers at Napoli Shkolnik are experienced in assessing your construction safety claim. That includes assisting with workers compensation claims and holding employers who fail to require PPE accountable.