PPE: Safety 101

September 25, 2019

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is necessisary to protect yourself. 

Of the 300,000 eye injuries reported in 2016 an estimated 90% could have been prevented with proper PPE. 70% of hand and arm injuries could have been prevented with something as simple as safety gloves. According to findings from Safety + Health Magazine, most of these fatal falls could have been prevented if workers had been wearing proper fall protection. 

2/5 of workplace hand injuries are from punctures or cuts.  

45% of all head injuries that result in missed work days are eye injuries.

Falls accounted for 38% of fatalities in construction in 2016.

When it comes to PPE, both employers and employees have a role to play. But true safety comes when both embrace their responsibilities and choose PPE. 

Employers and Their Role With PPE

Both Canada and the US have regulations which require employers to help keep their employees safe. There are three ways that employers are expected to help protect their employees: to plan, provide and train.

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1. Plan

All employers should think ahead about safety hazards on site. By doing so, it allows ample time to order the proper type of PPE needed to keep employees safe. These costs should be taken into consideration and be budged as a necessary expense.

Plan for PPE and safety

2. Provide

Just as an employer is responsible to plan for safety, they are also responsible to provide the appropriate personal protection equipment. From safety glasses and work gloves to rebates for steel toe boots, it is the responsibility of employers to provide safety equipment to their employees. 

Man in PPE carrying pipe on a work site

3. Train

Giving out PPE is a great first step but all employees should be trained to use PPE properly. This step is especially important for safety harnesses and other fall protection which needs to be worn properly to work. Another side to training with PPE is to know when to replace it; recognizing what wear and tear looks like for different pieces of PPE is also an important safety step.

Overhead photo of construction workers on site wearing ppe

If you want more information on the role of employers in safety or how to create a safety program for your company, the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety and the United States Department of Labor both have resources which can help you. They also provide additional educational resources on what PPE is, the role it should have in a company, governmental standards, and much more.

Employees and Their Role With PPE

Although employers are required to plan for safety, provide PPE, and train their employees on its proper use, the actual responsibility to wear PPE falls to the individual workers. Since employers cannot force employees to wear their protective equipment, a lot of workers don’t. There are many reasons for this. Safety equipment is often seen as uncomfortable, a roadblock to efficient work, or unnecessary and not enforced by management. 

But it shouldn’t matter if it is enforced by a manager, if you think it looks silly, or even if it slows you down slightly. The facts show that when workers in the construction industry do not prioritize their own safety, it is them at the end of the day who end up injured. This is why it must fall to every individual person to choose PPE every day.

Refusing Unsafe Work

It is the legal right of all employees to work safely. In fact refusing unsafe work and demanding proper PPE has become a Call-To-Action of sorts as families – such as this one from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada – call upon others to know their rights after losing a loved one themselves. 

Unfortunately, the possible implications of refusing unsafe work can deter people from doing so. Loss of wages or fear of retaliation from co-workers or management can be enough to deter someone from speaking up. OSHA has information about your rights to refuse unsafe work as well as a hotline (1-800-321-OSHA (6742)) to call if you experience any kind of pushback for doing so. 

The Role Of Everyone to Embrace PPE

Wearing PPE is the best way to keep yourself safe. When you choose to wear PPE, you set an example for those around you. Save a life. Wear PPE.

Companies can consider holding a recognition program to recognize employees who comply with safety regulations. This can help to encourage safety culture both on and off site. Planning group activities which promote safety such as an after-work trip to get everyone new safety boots can help achieve this, too. 

By embracing the role that PPE can play in your life, you can help make yourself and those around you much safer. Lead by example and be confident that you will go home every night injury free. 

Tim Forestell

Tim Forestell is one of DOZR’s co-founders and CCO. Tim got started in the industry as VP Operations for Forestell Landscaping before founding DOZR with Kevin and Erin. Aside from the amazing team at DOZR, his favourite thing about DOZR are the customers. Working with DOZR renters every day gives him a peek at the evolution of different projects and hearing stories about projects being developed from start to finish. Although he knows the most about tractors, loaders and excavators, Tim’s favourite piece of equipment is the dozer because of the power it has and the cool new technology developed for it. DOZR’s vision was created when co-founders Tim, Kevin and Erin were discussing a recurring concern within the construction industry while on a vacation booked through the sharing economy. They wanted to make their idle heavy equipment work for them during the off season. DOZR was founded officially in late 2015. Tim continues to grow and challenge industry standards by creating efficient opportunities for the customer rental process. Tim holds a BHSc from the University of Western Ontario.

2 Comments

  1. 3m 8210 mask

    Usually I don’t comment on blogs but your post is so convincing that
    I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job Man,Keep up it.

    Best regards,
    Harrell Valenzuela

    Reply
  2. Excavator Wear Parts

    Safety First! Always! Stay focused on the job. Don’t take any stupid risks. Safety procedures are in place for a reason. To get you home to your loved ones! Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply

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