One of the first questions asked before working on a construction site is, “what do construction workers wear?” A proper construction work attire is essential to ensure safety and prevent injuries on the worksite. This attire is commonly known as personal protective equipment (or PPE).
PPEs consist of several elements, all of which play a crucial role in promoting a secure working environment. PPEs have to meet the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
|ELEMENTS||TYPES OF PPE||REQUIRED SPECIFICATION|
|Head Protection||Hard hat, safety helmet||– Class G for impact and penetration resistance. Up to 2,200 voltage protection.
– Class E for impact and penetration protection. Up to 20,000 voltage protection.
– Both classes must contain readable labels with ANSI designation.
|Ear Protection||Earmuffs, earplugs||– Ear muffs: must fit over the entire ear and form an air seal
– Ear plugs: must fit your outer ear canal and do not go too far into it.
– Both ear muffs and plugs must provide sufficient protection, depending on how loud the work environment is
|Eye and Face Protection||Safety glasses, safety goggles||– Must fit snugly without obstructing movements
– Must be disinfectable and cleanable
– Must provide front and side protection
|Hand Protection||Leather gloves, Kevlar gloves||– The job’s requirements determine what is needed. In most cases, heavy-duty gloves are required|
|Foot Protection||Safety toe boots, toe guards||– Must feature steel toes
– Must have a 75 impact and compression resistance rating
– Must be slip-resistant
Table of Contents
Things to Wear in Construction
1. Head Protection
The head is one of the body’s most fragile body parts, considering that it contains the brain, the body’s control center, and the body’s most important organ. Thus, injuries from blows, falls, or accidents can result in serious and potentially fatal effects.
This is why construction workers need protection to wear on their head. Here is the equipment list for head protection:
- Hard Hat
This item is required on all construction sites with a high risk of falling objects or moving threats. These are typically worn by those who work at ground level.
- Safety Helmets
Unlike hard hats, safety helmets are needed to be worn when working at elevated heights or in situations where there is a high risk of falling.
Types of Hard Hats and Safety Helmets
- Type 1- designed to protect against impacts from above, such as falling objects.
- Type 2- designed to provide protection against impacts that come from both above and the side of the head, making them suitable for environments where workers may be at risk of lateral impacts.
ANSI’s classification of safety helmets and hard hats determines the level of protection they provide. Here are the ANSI classes of hard hats:
- Class G (General)– can withstand up to 2,000 volts and is intended for use in general construction and mining industries where electrical hazards are not a concern.
- Class E (Electrical)– can withstand up to 20,000 volts, and it provides protection against impact and penetration hazards as well as electrical shock and is intended for use in electrical work environments.
2. Ear Protection
Construction sites are notorious for being among the loudest environments. To ensure that your hearing will not be damaged, ear protection is among the safety gears in construction.
- Ear Muffs
Ear muffs are designed to enclose the external ear. Lined with acoustic foam inside the muff cup, the level of noise is effectively reduced.
- Ear Plugs
Ear plugs are a construction safety product designed to insert into the wearer’s ear canals. There are two types of ear plugs: pre-molded and formable (or foam) ear plugs.
- Pre-molded earplugs come in different sizes to suit different ear canals, but their lack of flexibility can make it challenging to achieve a proper seal.
- Formable or foam earplugs have the ability to expand to fit ear canals of different sizes. They can even conform to the shape of the wearer’s ear and seal the canal once inserted correctly.
3. Eye Protection
The eyes are one of the most vital sensory organs as they enable you to navigate your surroundings. Therefore, it is important that measures are taken to protect them from hazards.
Here are the eye safety equipment construction requirements:
- Safety Glasses
Eyeglasses are typically made from metal or plastic and offer minimal protection against hazards in the workplace.
While they can be worn over prescription lenses, they may not provide adequate protection against small particles, such as dust or debris. This is due to the fact that eyeglasses are not designed with a seal around the sides, which can allow particles to enter the eye area.
- Safety Goggles
Goggles are an essential form of eye protection designed to effectively shield the eyes from airborne debris and dust. They can be worn over prescription glasses and can be paired with face screens, offering full-face protection from heat and flying debris, making them a versatile option for workers in a range of industries.
4. Hand Protection
On construction sites, the hand is always prone to hazards and harmful chemicals. This is the reason protective gloves, a construction worker protective equipment for the hands, are important. Here is a list of recommendations:
- Fabric – ideally used for grime, irritation, and wounds.
- Leather – highly durable and resistant against abrasions, punctures, and burn.
- Rubber – rubbers are insulators; therefore, they are excellent at handling electrical hazards.
- Chemical Gloves – these are ideally used in handling chemicals that are potentially toxic or corrosive.
5. Feet Protection
Construction workers outfits are never complete without feet protection. They are crucial in construction as they help prevent foot injuries from common workplace hazards like falling objects, sharp materials, and electrical hazards.
- Safety Shoes – built with steel-toe or composite toe-caps, slip-resistant soles, and electrical hazard protection, safety shoes are one of the most common feet protection.
- Metatarsal guards – typically consist of a hard plastic or metal shield that is worn over the top of work boots or shoes to protect the feet. Some models also include a puncture-resistant sole for additional protection against sharp objects.
- Studded Threads and Overshoes – Studded threads and overshoes are two types of traction devices that can be worn over regular footwear to increase grip on slippery surfaces.
Things Not to Wear on a Construction Site
To comply with the dress code for construction workers, you should wear long sleeves as well as durable pants suitable for the workplace. Additionally, it is important to wear work shoes or boots that are sturdy enough to protect the feet while working.
Hence, it is essential to avoid wearing sleeveless or tank top shirts, shorts, sweatpants, sandals, or any clothing that does not meet the requirements for safety clothing for construction.
Things to Consider Before Choosing Safety Clothes
Aside from the OSHA construction site dress code standards, here are the other things to consider when choosing or shopping for construction worker uniform:
1. Nature of Work
To ensure safety, it’s crucial to carefully select PPE based on the specific risks associated with your industry, such as electrical or fire hazards. This is because different industries may have varying safety requirements and standards for their workers.
When choosing PPE, it’s essential to consider the threat level of the job and choose the appropriate level of protection. As a rule of thumb, the higher the threat level, the higher the cut protection level should be.
3. Fit and Comfort
Ensuring that your PPE fits not only means that you are comfortable as you work but also guarantees your safety at the workplace.
For one, loose-fitting clothing may be comfortable, but it can also be hazardous. On the other hand, snug ones may restrict your movement and affect your productivity.
Workers are at risk of accidents caused by a lack of spatial awareness around moving vehicles. When choosing PPE for these workers, it’s important to consider the potential risks and provide them with PPEs that can help increase visibility and prevent accidents, especially if they are working in low-light areas.
When choosing PPE, it’s important to consider the level of resistance needed for the specific job, as well as the “cost in use” rather than just the market price. This determines how long the PPE will last before needing to be replaced and the potential cost savings in the long run.
When it comes to construction work, the question, “what do construction workers wear?” is not just a matter of fashion but a matter of safety. After all, they face a wide range of hazards, and the right PPE can save their lives.
It may be tempting to wear fashionable construction clothes, but it is always important to select PPE that provides the necessary level of protection and meets safety standards.
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.