Construction PPE: Safety Guidelines and Checklist

Construction By Rhiannon Davies

A construction worker holding a metal pipe.
Safety on construction sites has always been crucial. The construction industry has one of the highest rates of workplace injury in the UK, and while Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is designed to be the final step once all other safety measures are in place, workers on constructions sites are never fully protected without it.

Is It a Legal Requirement to Wear PPE on a Construction Site?

Yes – the Personal Protective Equipment At Work PPE Regulations 1992 states that every employer needs to ensure that suitable PPE is provided to workers who might be exposed to anything that could risk their health and safety while on site. As a minimum, most construction site will require some form of head protection, a high vis vest or jacket, and suitable footwear. The regulations also state that the employer must make sure that workers are provided with the training, information, and instructions to know how and when to use PPE, and what risks it will help prevent.

What Are the Latest PPE Regulations?

The most recent amendments to PPE Regulations are the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (PPER 2022). They came in to date on the 6th April 2022, and amend the 1992 regulations to extend employers’ and employees’ duties regarding PPE to limb (b) workers. You can read more about these regulations here.


Can You Be Fired for Not Wearing PPE?

The consequences for being found to not be wearing PPE will depend on your employer, but as a minimum you will be told to leave the site immediately until you wear the correct PPE.

Employers have a legal duty to ensure their workers are protected and can face hefty fines and even jail time if workers are injured or killed as a result of not wearing the proper protective equipment, so they are entitled to take disciplinary action against anyone who doesn’t take the rules seriously.


What is 5-point PPE?

To make PPE simple, many sites take an approach known as ‘5-point PPE’ as a minimum. The following types of protective clothing must be worn at all times to make sure the worker is safe and complying with requirements:

  • Hard hat (must come equipped with a chin strap when working from height or in windy conditions);
  • High visibility vest or jacket;
  • Steel toe capped boots;
  • Gloves;
  • Safety goggles.


What PPE is Mandatory on a Construction Site?

There are four types of PPE that are legally mandatory to wear on construction sites:

Head protection – usually a hard hat, to protect against falling debris.

Foot protection – steel toecap boots are most common. Some construction sites allow rigger boots, but this is up to individual sites.

Hi-visibility clothing – At minimum, this will be in the form of a high-visibility vest that must be worn at all times, but hi-visibility polo necks, parkas and fleeces are also common. If you are working near moving traffic, full Hi-vis in the form of a jacket and trousers is recommended so that you are seen by drivers.

Body protection – All clothing must be suitable to protect the wearer from cuts, grazes, splinters and other forms of skin damage, as well as providing UV protection in summer and protection from the cold in winter.


What Sort of Head Protection is “Suitable”?

Industrial safety helmets (sometimes known as hard hats) are the standard on most construction sites and are designed to protect against materials falling from a height or swinging objects. Safety helmets will be made up of a hard shell, a harness, and a headband to ensure it can be adjusted to fit the wearer’s head correctly.


Are Hoodies Allowed on Construction Sites?

Hoodies themselves worn to protect against the cold are usually acceptable -as long as the required hi-visibility clothing is worn over the top of it and remains visible at all times. Under no circumstances should you ever wear your hood up underneath your safety helmet – it will stop the helmet from fitting correctly, and can impair your vision.


What PPE is Used for Eye Protection?

The type of protective eyewear will largely depend on the hazard that they are guarding against – typical protective eye equipment you can expect to find on a construction site includes safety goggles, face screens or shields, and visors. They are usually used to protect against dust, dirt, molten metal or sparks, and hazardous vapours.


How Can You Protect Your Lungs From Damage?

Construction workers are at a high risk for lung cancer and other lung diseases, so taking care of your lungs is crucial. Good practice includes using water to prevent dust from becoming airborne and always using the correct Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), ensuring that it fits correctly and is properly maintained.


Can You Wear Shorts on a Building Site?

According to the HSE, if the site you are working on has a ‘no shorts’ policy, then you must follow this rule, as clothing needs to protect against the hazards on site. The main reason for protecting the lower legs is to guard against cuts and grazes which could become infected if they come in to contact with the dust and debris usually found on a construction site. Specialised trades such as arc welding also require covered skin to protect against UV light damage.


What PPE Should Be Worn When Working With Concrete?

Skin protection is vital when working with concrete, as wet concrete can cause severe burns as well as contact dermatitis. When working with concrete, you should always use:

  • Strong, alkali resistant gloves;
  • Long sleeves
  • Full length trousers
  • Impervious work boots, with the trousers tucked in to provide maximum coverage.
  • Safety glasses or goggles

Dry concrete can also create large amounts of dust, so the right RPE should be worn at all times.


How Often Should PPE Be Changed?

Personal Protective Equipment should be changed as soon as any visible wear or tear appears – it will only get worse once it appears, and may no longer be providing the level of protection you need from it. High quality PPE should last for a number of years, but in general, it’s best to change clothing when it becomes overly stained, burned, or frayed, or when any visible holes appear. This is especially true with items like gloves, especially if the grip begins to wear away.

Some PPE items, such as hard hats and safety harnesses, come with an expiry  or ‘best before’ date. Once this date has been reached, the items are not guaranteed to provide the level of protection needed, so they are best off being replaced even if they appear to be fine.


Explore Our Construction Health & Safety Courses

At ACT, we provide a range of health and safety courses for those in the construction industry. Regulations and best practice are always changing and evolving, so it’s always best to refresh your knowledge, even if you’ve been in the industry for a number of years.

NEBOSH Construction Certificate – Available as a face-to-face classroom course, live online virtual classroom course, and via our elearning platform, this nationally recognised course is held by over 20,000 professionals in the construction industry and is one of the key qualifications for anyone wanting to keep those working in construction safe while on site.

CCNSG Safety Passport and Safety Passport Renewal – the Safety Passport is a two-day training course that provides a solid base of the relevant health and safety knowledge needed to work on a construction site and many sites require a valid safety passport before anyone can work on their site.

CCNSG Leading a Team Safely – The CCNSG Leading a Team Safely course is designed for supervisors and lone workers who have responsibility for managing the health and safety of a team of workers. The course builds upon the knowledge provided by the CCNSG Safety Passport course to develop your understanding of health and safety leadership.

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