Why Construction Workers Should Wear Long Sleeve PPE
What is "PPE"?
"PPE" stands for "Personal Protective Equipment". With regards to health and safety in the workplace, PPE refers to a wide range of protective clothing or equipment worn by a worker for safety. Some examples of PPE found on a construction site include safety glasses, gloves and hard hats.
Long Sleeve PPE
In recent times, more and more construction sites and companies are adopting the "long sleeve PPE" safety policy. This generally refers to the requirement to have all members of the workforce wearing long sleeve shirts and long trousers (no shorts) when working on site.
Many construction sites now have a "minimum PPE" requirement that requires everyone on site to wear the following at all times: * hard hat * safety glasses * steel cap boots * high visibility shirt
Some sites still allow short sleeve "high-viz" shirts and shorts to be worn on site. This is typical on building sites, such as in the housing market. However as the focus increases on safety, the general direction of company policies is moving towards long sleeve high visibility shirts and long trousers to be worn on construction sites. The main reason for this new requirement is quite simply sun protection.This is particularly the case in Australia where the rates of skin cancer are the highest in the world.
At the start of many construction projects, new team members may try to resist wearing long sleeve PPE and persistently challenge this relatively new requirement. In the interest of construction worker safety, the following are some suggested answers to common challenges/complaints raised by construction workers when asked to wear long sleeve PPE...
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do I have to wear long sleeve PPE? A: You should wear long sleeve PPE for maximum sun protection. It is company policy. It is also becoming a construction industry standard.
Q: But I didn't have to wear it on the last job...? A: This is not "the last job". This is a new project/site and long sleeve PPE forms part of the minimum PPE requirements.
Q: But if I wear long sleeve PPE, how am I supposed to get a tan? A: You are here to work. This is a construction site, not a beauty parlor or tanning salon.
Q: Well, on the weekend I may go to the beach and get sunburnt because I have to stay in the sun longer since I can't get a tan during the week... A: What you do on the weekend is up to you, however at work the company policy (and your condition of employment that you agreed to by working here) is to wear long sleeve PPE.
Q: How about if we sign a petition that the company is not liable if we get skin cancer. Then can we wear short sleeves? A: No, it doesn't work that way. By law, it is a duty of care requirement for both parties. The company's duty of care is to ensure it is putting policies and systems in place to ensure the employee is safe at work. The employee's duty of care is to comply with these procedures to ensure their safety.
Q: But I wear sunscreen... A: That is great, however you still need to wear long sleeve PPE! Sunscreen is a good form of sun protection against UV light that is reflected from the ground or against concrete surfaces. It is a good secondary protection precaution where UV is not reflected on your hat or high viz clothing.
Q: It's too hot to wear long sleeve PPE. A: You will actually find that when the sun does not hit your skin directly it is in fact much cooler to wear long sleeve PPE.
Q: Can I roll my sleeves up? A: Some companies may allow this, however logically wearing long sleeve PPE and rolling the sleeves up is similar to wearing short sleeve PPE and therefore not acceptable.