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OSHA Regulations: Construction Personal Protective Equipment

Construction Safety Equipment

When you have a work site accident, not only do you need to deal with an injured employee, you also typically have to deal with OSHA. Established in 1971 to combat workplace injury, OSHA regulations have done just that, but the regulations also leave many contractors scratching their heads over what all the rules mean. To help, we've developed this guide to help you stay in compliance with OSHA, without all the legalese.

Eye and Face Protection

"You'll put your eye out!" Despite the annual holiday reminder for eye and face protection, this is one of the more commonly ignored or misunderstood sections of OSHA code. Required when work operations can result if foreign objects heading towards your eyes, safety glasses or face shields are a must. Though typically required when welding, cutting, grinding, nailing or working with harsh chemicals, I've seen warnings to use eye protection on virtually every tool I've ever purchased. When you're working on an electrical system that is energized or any other electrical hazards, you should also wear eye protection. If you're working with harmful chemicals, you may want to step up to a full face shield to prevent chemical burns or injuries from splashing.

Foot Protection

It's pretty obvious that in construction, you'll want to have a sturdy pair of work boots or shoes to prevent injury. Specifically, OSHA is looking for shoes or boots that have slip-resistant soles with puncture resistance. If your crew is working around heavy equipment or potential falling objects, a safety toe is required to prevent crushed toes. Though this used to mean heavy steel-toed boots that made you feel like you were building your legs up for a marathon, the newer composites that are available are much lighter while providing the same degree of protection.

Hand Protection

PPE Required

OSHA is somewhat vague on gloves, beyond that they should be the proper hand protection for that job and should fit snugly to prevent snagging. But what is "proper hand protection for the job"? If you're doing concrete work, use heavy rubber gloves. If you're welding, using welding gloves. Electrical work? Insulated gloves and sleeves to prevent shock or electrocution. But what about the rest of the time? My personal preference is light leather palms and fingers with stretchy fabric across the back, mainly because I can't stand the lack of coordination that heavier gloves cause. Many professionals like the durability of a full leather glove while others prefer the functionality of knit gloves with grip dots on the palms and fingers.

Head Protection

When do you need head protection? In any situation where you have workers overhead who may drop objects or where there are protrusions or electrical hazards you could bump your head on. Probably of equal importance is regular inspection and replacement when necessary. If you left your hard hat out all winter and it has deteriorated, don't bring it to the job site. The same goes for hard hats with dents or cracks in them. If you've received a heavy blow or shock, replace it - even if it doesn't appear damaged - because it could have caused a weak spot that will fail prematurely when you need it most.

Hearing Protection

OSHA regulations say that hearing protection is needed when sound is above an average of 85 decibels for 8 hours or if noise is regularly at or above 100 decibels for a hour. Because this is the sound range of average power tools and because hearing damage can occur at regular exposure to even levels below but near 85 decibels, it's crucial to have earplugs or earmuffs in high noise work areas. The equipment should be cleaned and inspected regularly.

By knowing what's expected on the job site, you can ensure your crew has the proper personal protective equipment for the job. If you find you need additional safety gear for your crew, we're always happy to help. At Wallboard Supply Company, we've been providing quality work site equipment for construction for over four decades. Just contact us today for more information, to get a quote or to place an order.

OSHA Personal Protective Equipment Quick Card

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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.