Various industries have seen a change in the regulation of workwear throughout the past few months, particularly for those working on building and construction sites.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been implemented as part and parcel of most construction company’s uniform requirements for decades now, these days when thinking about PPE we think of masks and gloves. However, PPE is simply accessories and clothing which protect the user from health and safety risks at work. According to the Government website, PPE can include the following: “safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment, such as face masks.” Most of those working on construction and building sites will be used to wearing most of these items in their day to day job.
What are the changes to workwear on building sites?
Actually, there are very few changes. It is important to note that the PPE used during your time working before the pandemic is still expected to be worn at all times during your working hours. The risks that are not related to the pandemic remain the same, so it is vital that you continue to take the necessary precautions that you would usually be expected to take to protect yourself whilst working.
Official guidance states that “workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings.” It is therefore not necessary to wear additional protection such as PPE specific facemasks unless you do so for non-covid related reasons. If once a risk assessment has been conducted and the results show that additional PPE is required, then all employers must provide the necessary PPE free of charge and ensure that it fits the workers properly.
Lemon.co.uk had the following to say on this:
"As a general rule, the construction industry has followed a basic 5-point PPE system. This generally includes: hard hats, high-vis clothing, protective boots, eye protection and hand protection (suitable gloves). As the pandemic has continued to take its toll on the industry, it has brought a sixth point to this list and which will consist of respirators or face masks."
Face masks, face coverings and respirators
It is important to note that there is a difference between community face masks/coverings and PPE ones.
A community face mask or covering has been proven to help protect individuals and those around them from Covid-19 when in an enclosed space. A face covering just needs to cover the nose and mouth. Whereas a PPE face mask is entirely different, and is to be used in clinical settings.
Community face coverings and masks should also not be used as a replacement for respirators or other PPE used to manage risks related to dust and spray on industrial worksites. It is vital to not request these masks for your workers unless they truly need them to protect against risks that would arise from being a health and care worker and those working in industrial settings which are likely to expose them to dust hazards. Requesting unnecessary PPE can result in a lack of provision for those who vitally need it.
Those using Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) should continue to do so if it is a vital provision for your workers. If you do not usually provide RPE, you do not need to provide it as a protection against Covid. RPE such as respirators are designed with special filters to protect the wearer, particularly for use in industrial settings where dust can be a serious hazard. If you are struggling with the provision of RPE due to the pandemic, then the Government website has advice on steps you can take to minimise any risks to your workers.
Most importantly, PPE face coverings are not a reason to exempt you from managing the risks your workers face as a result of the pandemic. You should take the time to ensure that you minimise any close contact between workers, and if this is not possible to use fixed teams. You should also encourage increased hand and surface washing and supply the provisions to allow for this. At no point should staff rely on face coverings as a suitable way of controlling the spread of disease.
What if workers wish to wear a community mask to work?
If a worker wishes to wear a community face covering, they can do so. Community masks are not a replacement for PPE, but are used for added protection in environments where social distancing is not possible. If your workers wish to wear a community mask, it is important to make them aware of the precautions that come alongside wearing one. Government advice for this includes:
- “Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and before and after removing it.
- When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands.
- Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it.
- Continue to wash your hands regularly.
- Change and wash your face covering daily.
- If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste.
- Practise social distancing wherever possible.”
Our community masks and coverings range includes the following and are priced at retail prices:
- Reusable Face Mask with Elasticated Ear Loop (20 pack) - £75+VAT
- Reusable Face Mask with Cord Tie (20 pack) - £75+VAT
- Anti-Viral Stretch Mask (20 pack) - £150+VAT
- Anti-Viral Community Snood (20 pack) - £150+VAT
What other forms of protective clothing do we provide to the construction industry?
As mentioned earlier, high visibility clothing falls under PPE for certain job roles where extra visibility is required for enhanced safety, particularly important in the winter months when daylight visibility is reduced. Our hi vis clothing is and always has been highly recommended within the construction industry and includes coveralls, jackets, shirts and trousers.
Some of our most popular articles within the range include:
- Gryzko Hi Vis FR Contrast Coverall - £129.95+VAT
- Executive Waistcoat - £6.95+VAT
- Hi Vis Jacket - £29.95+VAT
- Hi Vis Cargo Trouser - £36.95+VAT
There are no official changes in the workwear that is needed on a building site as a result of the pandemic. The pandemic has not changed the duty of an employer to protect those in the workplace from health and safety risks that may arise on building sites. Face coverings are not a replacement for the usual PPE that would normally be provided should you need it as they do not protect from work-related hazardous substances. RPE should continue to be provided if possible where it was provided before. PPE as protection against the coronavirus remains for use only within clinical settings. The Government has stated that: “In a non-clinical setting, there is no need to provide different PPE than you would normally have provided before the outbreak started.”
With this in mind, should you require a community face mask or covering or hi vis clothing for your construction workers, at Alsico we’re more than happy to help. Our products are made of high-quality materials and are fully adjustable to provide maximum comfort and protection. Order online today or give us a call on 01772 662500.