Personal protective equipment (PPE) is something all construction workers have in common.
PPE is designed to protect against safety and/or health hazards. Hard hats, safety glasses, and safety boots, for instance, are designed to prevent or reduce the severity of injury if an accident occurs.
Other PPE, such as hearing and respiratory protection, is designed to prevent illnesses and unwanted health effects.
It is important to remember that PPE only provides protection. It reduces the risk but does not eliminate the hazard.
This manual’s chapters on particular kinds of PPE will enable users to
While common to all trades, PPE varies according to individual, job, and site conditions.
Legal requirements for personal protective equipment also vary and the appropriate sections of under the Saskatchewan Employment Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations should be consulted.
Personal protective equipment should be the last resort in defense. Better alternatives lie in engineering controls that eliminate as much of the risk as possible. Engineering controls fall into five categories:
This control substitutes a less toxic chemical that can do the same job. A common example is the substitution of calcium silicate or fiberglass insulation for asbestos insulation. Substitution is an effective control as long as the substitute is less hazardous than what it is replacing!
This simply means doing the job in a way which is less hazardous. For example, brushing or rolling paint limits particle disbursement into the air much better than spray painting. Similarly, wet removal of asbestos releases up to 100 times less dust than dry removal. The change should be checked to ensure that it is safer.
Isolation isolates the worker from the hazard. In a quarry, for example, the operator of a crusher can be isolated from dust by a filtered, air-conditioned cab.
A substance or procedure may be enclosed to contain toxic emissions. It may be as simple as putting a lid on an open solvent tank or enclosing asbestos removal projects with polyethylene sheeting. Enclosures have also been built around compressors to reduce the noise level. Enclosures must not restrict access when maintenance is required.
A common engineering control is to dilute the contaminant in the air by using general ventilation. Local ventilation is better because it helps to reduce the contaminant. General ventilation may employ fans to move large volumes of air and increase air exchange. This is not suitable, however, for highly toxic materials.
Local ventilation captures and removes contaminants at their source. At a shop bench, a fume hood can be constructed to remove dusts and fumes. On sites, portable fume extractors can be used.
Remember: many filtering systems can only remove fumes—not gases or vapours.
The Regulations broadly requires that such protective clothing, equipment, or devices be worn as are necessary to protect the worker against the hazards to which the worker may be exposed. It also requires that the worker be trained in the use and care of this equipment.
When it is not possible to apply any of the five engineering controls, personal protective equipment may be the last resort.
Regulations often refer to Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or other equipment standards as a convenient way to identify equipment which meets requirements and is acceptable. CSA- certified equipment can be identified by the CSA logo.
For instance, there are CSA standards for Head Protection (CSA Z94.1-15), Eye Protection (CSA Z94.3.1-09), and Protective Footwear (CSA Z195-1-02).
For respiratory protection, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards and approvals are usually referenced throughout North America. For life jackets, Transport Canada certification is the standard reference.
See the following chapters on specific kinds of PPE.
Requirements for head protection are specified in the Saskatchewan Occupational Health Regulations. Under Regulation 91, hard hats are mandatory for all construction workers on the job in Saskatchewan. The hard hat must be an approved industrial protection headwear and must protect the wearer’s head against impact and against small flying or falling objects. Where there is a chance of electric shock, it must be able to protect the worker.
The following classes of hard hats are generally considered to be acceptable:
The ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014 and CSA Z94.1-07 (R2012).standards apply to the manufacture of hardhats. They are classified as follows:
Vertical impact and penetration standards
Both vertical and lateral impact and penetration requirements, and have a foam inner liner
(Electrical) Dielectric protection up to 20,000 volts
(General) Dialectic protection up to 2,200 volts
(Conductive) No dialectic protection
“Type” and “Class” of hard hat can be identified by the CSA or ANSI label. Some manufacturers also stamp the CSA or ANSI classification into the shell of the hard hat under the brim.
CSA label, stamped into the shell, indicating Type 1, Class E hard hat.
Class E hard hats come in three basic styles:
Saskatchewan Regulations specify that hardhats that have been damaged, subjected to a severe impact, or have been painted or been cleaned with solvents, must not be used (OH&S 91(6))
Note that most hardhats are not intended to be worn backwards.