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It is no secret that construction is one of the most injury-prone industries.

It takes more than a hardhat to stay safe in construction.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses, helmets, boots, gloves, respirators, and any other similar equipment reduce employee exposure to hazards.

A hazard in construction is any process, environment, chemical, radiation, or mechanical irritant that can injure or impair any part of the body through physical contact, absorption, or inhalation.

PPE is addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, and longshoring.

To ensure the greatest possible protection for employees in the workplace, the cooperative efforts of both employers and employees will help in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthful work environment.

Employers are responsible for performing a “hazard assessment” of the workplace to identify and control physical and health hazards.

It is also employer’s responsibility to identify and provide appropriate PPE for employees as well as training their employees in the use and care of the PPE.

Employers must maintain PPE, including replacing worn or damaged PPE and periodically reviewing, updating and evaluating the effectiveness of the PPE program.

While employees should properly wear PPE, attend training sessions on PPE, care for, clean and maintain PPE, and inform a supervisor of the need to repair or replace PPE.

The multiple styles and materials found in every category of PPE can make selecting the appropriate protection easier said than done.

Gloves, for example, depending on the chemical involved in the work task, some glove materials are more suitable than others.

Gloves are absorbent, leather or cotton gloves should not be used when working with wet concrete and mortar because they will not provide a protective barrier against the portland cement contained in these products.

Portland cement contains hexavalent chromium (CrVI) which can lead to chronic, disabling dermatitis that can force laborers into early retirement.

Wet concrete and mortar also contain lime (calcium oxide) that is abrasive to skin and can damage human tissues.

Gloves made of non-absorbent butyl or nitrile are better choices.

Well-fitting waterproof boots are also essential.

All PPE clothing and equipment should be of safe design and construction, and should be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion.

Employers should take the fit and comfort of PPE into consideration when selecting appropriate items for their workplace.

If PPE does not fit properly, it can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed.

Source : OSHA; Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund Of North America; The Skin Cancer Foundation; Health and Safety Executive and Abdul Hamid, Abdul Rahim, Wan Zulkifli Wan Yusuf, and Bachan Singh. “HAZARDS AT CONSTRUCTION SITES.” 5th Asia-Pacific Structural Engineering and Construction Conference (APSEC 2003). 26 – 28 August 2003. Johor Bahru: 2003. 95-104.

(this article written for 1BINA.my)