In the midst of the pandemic, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has become a buzz phrase. But PPE is something our industry has always had to think about.
The biggest advantage of PPE is to proactively fight against injuries, and safety is really the most important part of what we do. Our main goal at Skilled Trades Partners (STP) is to get our tradesmen and women home from work safe every single day – no injury is acceptable.
But there are other reasons to ensure proper PPE usage:
Productivity. If a contractor loses a person to injury, they lose time and money on the job while they recover or while they try to find someone to replace them.
Morale. Tradesmen who work in a safe environment will work better. If people are consistently getting hurt on the job, the crew will start to feel like they aren’t being taken care of.
Insurance. A job-related injury not only costs time and labor on a job, it costs money. The cost factor on an injury from an employer’s perspective can be massive. Worker’s comp is one of the biggest expenses any construction company has to deal with, and the less incidents, the less the insurance premiums.
What is the appropriate PPE?
When it comes to PPE for tradesmen, people often think first of hard hats, work boots, safety glasses and reflective vests. But construction sites require more equipment than that. According to OSHA, construction PPE is divided into five categories: eye and face, foot, hand, head, and hearing protection. Things like specialty gloves and, these days, face masks are also important. OSHA also pushes selecting PPE that provides more protection that is strictly required.
Perhaps the most overlooked PPE equipment is ear protection. According to the CDC, approximately 14% of all construction workers have hearing difficulty and about 25% of noise-exposed tested construction workers have a material hearing impairment. While wearing ear protection might not always be popular at a site, it’s important supervisors require it in certain situations.
Here at Skilled Trades Partners, we always do first day check-ins with our tradesmen and the on-site supervisor. After that we regularly check in with supervisors on the job about things like reliability, skill, performance, and culture fit. One thing we always ask about is if our employee has the proper PPE to do their job; if not, we address it either by providing it directly or reimbursing a purchase. It’s important for us to invest in safety and customer productivity.
Giving PPE to new tradesmen right off the bat should be standard, but making sure PPE is actually used and is in good condition as time goes on is also important. It should be stored correctly, cleaned, and checked regularly for defects. Replacements parts should match the original and be easily replaced when it wears out.
We have a saying here at STP: “Keep the main thing the main thing.” Construction safety is our “main thing.”