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PPE Guidelines For Manufacturing and Construction Workers

On a construction site, a woman smiles while wearing an orange safety hat, safety glasses and a high visibility vest over a flannel shirt. She is walking next to a man wearing a white hard hat, safety glasses and a high visibility vest over a flannel shirt.

Rebecca Williams on PPE Safety Tips

Workers in construction, manufacturing, distribution and other industries rely on personal protective equipment (PPE) every day. When these workers aren't properly trained, improper use of PPE can create safety risks.

We spoke with Aerotek Lead Regional Safety Manager Rebecca Williams who has over 15 years of experience helping workers and companies improve their approach to health and safety. She offers a PPE guideline of three PPE safety tips workers should keep in mind about PPE safety.

Who is responsible for buying PPE?

A common issue in the workplace is figuring out what PPE to provide workers. Employers are responsible for safety on the worksite and that includes providing the correct PPE that meets standard PPE safety requirements.

“Employers are required to do a hazardous risk assessment, identify all the potential exposures, eliminate the hazards and provide the necessary PPE for the working environment. Without the assessment, employers can’t identify the proper PPE needed,” says Williams.

Employers are also required to verify that all PPE being used meets PPE safety requirements. This includes the equipment you might bring to the job site. If you bring your lucky hard hat to a new job, it's best to make your host employer aware and ensure it provides adequate protection.

Host employers must provide the PPE for full-time and contract workers. If you’re on the job temporarily, you’re entitled to the same protection as the rest of the team.

“I don’t think contractors always understand their rights to safety. They have the same rights as a full-time employee so there can be a disconnect when it comes ensuring they have the right PPE,” says Williams.

How to properly wear PPE

Workers often misunderstand how to properly wear PPE equipment. Ill-fitting protection compromises its effectiveness.

“In the term ‘personal protective equipment’ the word ‘personal’ is important because it should be specifically for your use. It should be provided to you based on fit and comfort,” says Williams.

Workers should make sure their equipment fits. They should also be sure they’re wearing the right PPE for the job they're performing. Wearing inappropriate or unnecessary equipment can create additional hazards.

“After a hazardous risk assessment, host employers should know exactly what PPE is needed based on the different types of exposures. You don’t want to wear equipment that isn’t related to the working environment. Safety glasses aren’t always needed in a warehouse, because why would you give someone safety glasses that could potentially fog up and present new dangers,” says Williams.

Once you receive the right PPE for the job, inspect it and read the instructions on how to wear it properly. Employers are responsible for proper PPE training. Ask for official PPE guidelines if you feel unsure about the fit or how to properly use PPE equipment.

PPE questions and answers: best practices

Williams notes that workers don’t always have the information required to ensure their safety. Whenever you don’t feel comfortable or are unsure about your PPE, communicate your concern to a supervisor, recruiter or safety hotline.

“In our contractor handbook we state that no job is too important to be done unsafely. It’s very important for workers to be comfortable enough to ask questions that can improve their safety,” says Williams.

You’ve got a right to be safe at work. Be curious about “the why” behind the PPE you’re required to wear. Asking questions is a great way to stay informed and show your employer that you’re serious about your safety.

If you’re interviewing for a position, ask for tours of the worksite, the company’s PPE guidelines, the details of what you’ll be doing and what PPE is required.

For workers already on the job, keep in mind the only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask. If you start to feel unsafe, ask a supervisor for PPE guidelines.

It’s an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working space and the right PPE for the job, but everyone can improve workplace safety.

When you’re ready to find your next job, search our job board and keep these tips in mind when exploring new opportunities.