Personal Protective Equipment not Optional on Work Sites


What do you think of this guy’s PPE?

Although this isn’t what personal protective equipment is, no work on a construction site should go on without the necessary PPE.

The very basic PPE for construction work include hard hats and safety boots but when work such as welding, crane operation, excavation etc. is taking place, there are additional PPE that are necessary. A site’s Safe Work Method Statement should provide more information about the PPE required.

Employers should ensure workers are provided with the necessary PPE and given the training on this equipment.

For more fun safety fail pics visit

White Card Update: Worker receives $800,000 after severe workplace injury

The tragic incident in 2009 which left a 61 year old worker disabled has resulted in $800,000 compensation for the worker. The injury occurred as the worker used a jack hammer to demolish a wall while standing on an erected platform. The worker then fell 3m to the ground which left him disabled after having to go numerous surgeries.

The incident is yet another example of the unsafe practices occurring on construction sites. The shocking part is that statistics show falls from heights are the leading cause of death on construction sites and yet employers in the industry are still not taking this hazard seriously enough.

An interesting post on had this to report on the case:

The ACT Supreme Court has awarded a 61-year-old Canberra man more than $800,000 in compensation after a workplace accident left him disabled.

 The man was injured in March 2009 while using a jack hammer to demolish part of a wall.

 He had been ordered to use the equipment while standing on a plywood platform erected as formwork for a concrete pour.

 He fell about 3 metres to the floor below when a piece of the formwork flipped.

 The Court heard he suffered injuries to his right shoulder and elbow and had not been able to resume work after having two operations.

 The man was awarded more than $100,000 in compensation for his injuries and more than $400,000 for lost past and future income.

Typically falls on construction sites can result from using unsafe or incomplete scaffolds, inappropriate ladders/ladder use, falling from or through roofs, falls from trucks, falls into holes, pits or shafts, accessing shelving, accessing mezzanine areas. Falls from heights are an extremely prevalent and a dangerous threat to construction workers and so needs to be managed accordingly. In the incident above the worker was instructed to perform a dangerous task from an unstable plywood platform erected as formwork for a concrete pour.

Even falls from relatively low height have the ability to cause very serious injuries and this incident involved a height of 3m which in itself is a risk. Injuries that can occur from falls include fractures, spinal cord injury, concussions and brain damage. Management of the risks can significantly reduce the number of deaths caused by falling.

The most common occurrence of incidents on construction sites involve workers falling according to statistics provided by authorities. This type of hazard also causes the most serious injuries which is why risk assessment and management is so important.

Extreme caution must be administered when working from a height, especially a height higher than 2 meters. Workers need to be aware of your surroundings and take note and caution of slippery boards on scaffolds and walkways, missing guardrails, openings in floors and penetrations that are not correctly protected. Workers should report all openings or missing railings so they can be corrected as soon as possible.

Relating to the hazard of falling is the issue of scaffolding work. When work from heights cannot be eliminated, the use of scaffolding is necessary. To comply with the applicable scaffolding regulations, all persons erecting or altering scaffold must be competent and certified to do so.

All scaffolds must be erected in compliance with statutory regulations and such scaffold and accessories must conform to regulations. Any damaged planks must be removed, kickboards must be secured in place and guardrails installed.

Mobile scaffolds present their own hazards, in that they are frequently used and must be erected as per regulations. They should be fitted with wheel locks which must be in place whenever people are working on the scaffold so that it doesn’t roll causing a fall.

All scaffolds should have an internal ladder for access. Climbing of scaffolding standards should not be allowed and tools and equipment should not be left lying around unattended on scaffolds as they tripping hazard they present can be compounded by a fall from a height.

Personal Protective Equipment is the form of Safety helmets must be worn at all times when working from a scaffold. Workers must be provided with a safety helmet which must be worn at all times.

 Posted by Steven Asnicar

White Card Articles: Personal Protective Equipment on Construction Sites

According to statistics released by WorkSafe, injuries on housing building sites are costing the construction industry more than $17million a year. More than 20 Victorian tradies injuries a week were reported on housing constructions sites last year.

In order to reduce these skyrocketing figures it is important that both employers, employees and self-employed tradespeople comply with workplace health and safety policies. One such policy which can significantly reduce the number of injuries on construction sites is the use of PPE.


Personal Protective Equipment is clothing or equipment designed to control risks to health and safety in the workplace. Examples of PPE are:

  • Ear plugs & ear muffs for hearing protection
  • Sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful effects of the sun
  • Hard hats, helmets & sun hats for head protection
  • Respirators, face masks & cartridge filters for breathing protection
  • Safety Boots for foot protection
  • High-visibility garments, thermal wear, overalls, aprons & safety harnesses for overall body protection
  • Reflective vests & fluoro jackets for protection of your abdomen and upper body
  • Goggles & Safety Glasses for eye protection

As an employee in the construction industry you have a legal obligation to adhere to your employer’s health and safety requirements, including use of PPE if instructed by your employer. Refusal to cooperate with these safety policies can result in disciplinary action or prosecution.

Employers have a responsibility to pay for and provide PPE and employees must utilise it as required.

Be vigilant on site and if you see a co-worker not using the PPE provided when they should be, warn them of the risk they are taking and immediately tell your manager.

PPE provide the least effective solution to hazards on a construction site because it doesn’t address the hazard but rather provides a layer of protection against it. It is still helpful in shielding workers from injury.  Therefore it should not be the only control measure implemented but should be used in conjunction with other safety measures.

There are various circumstances that may arise on site that can be prevented or minimised by wearing personal protective equipment. Circumstances that warrant the use of PPE include:

  1. Where there is a risk of noise induced hearing loss, employers should provide hearing protection. The need for such hearing protection equipment such as ear plugs will be assessed by conducting noise surveys in the affected areas.
  2. Workers that are required to work outdoors should be provided with protective clothing and sunscreen suitable for protection from sun damage, especially workers who are exposed to the sun’s harmful rays for long periods of time and are at risk of sun burn and skin cancer due to direct exposure to harmful UV rays.  Radiation from long hours of outdoor work can be reduced by providing hats, long sleeves/trousers and an adequate supply of sunscreen.
  3. When there is a possibility that a person may be struck on the head by a falling object or their head is vulnerable to injury in any way head protection in the form of a safety helmet must be worn.
  4. Hazards such as flying particles, dust, splashing substances, harmful gases, vapours, aerosols, and high intensity radiation from welding operations warrant and necessitate eye protection due to risk of eye injury or loss.
  5. Respiratory protection should be provided after all other practicable measures have been taken to provide control measures to ensure that no worker is exposed to an atmosphere that is or may be harmful to health.
  6. Workers operating near moving traffic or moving plant and equipment should wear high visibility safety vests to reduce the risk of injury associated with not being seen and being hit or run over by machinery or construction vehicles.
  7. Hand protection should be provided where there is a hazard associated with a potential for hand injury, such as working with certain tools. The list of hazards that injure hands will be compiled for each workplace and suitable hand protection should be provided to minimise risk.
  8. Safety /Protective footwear should be provided by employers where the nature of the work exposes the employee to risk of injury to feet.  On a construction site, all workers have the risk of injuring their feet.


While employers do have the responsibility of providing workers with PPE, it is the responsibility of workers to follow the workplace health and safety policies and regulations as instructed by employers… this is covered in our White Card training course. This includes utilising PPE as instructed.  Workers should not charge employees for PPE, as they are required to provide it by law. Employers must also provide the necessary training and instruction on use of PPE.  Workers who fail to utilise PPE as required are not only making themselves eligible for disciplinary action and prosecution, but even more serious they are putting their lives at risk.