Personal Protection Gear Varies Among Contractors

Staff | September 28, 2010

User #1: What do you wear for PPE (personal protection equipment) when out on a job? You probably don't wear a hard hat while in your machine, but what about when you get out?

How about work boots with the steel toe, or the orange vest when working near traffic?

I worked briefly with a company last summer and the crew never wore any [gear]. I did though.

User #2: I wear the hard hat all day if I'm in or out. I don't like the vests, so I bought safety T-shirts. I never liked [steel-toe boots].

User #3: Steel cap boots only, safety glasses and Hi-Vis shirt all minimum for my sites. We really should be wearing hard hats...and I think it won't be long before we are.

I had a young laborer come for a couple of days from an agency. He had steel caps on the first two days; on the third he wore sandshoes and I didn't notice. It was then he ran over his own foot with the vertical rammer. His foot was black for a week. I didn't know whether to kill him or console him.

Sunburn is a very real issue for us. I supply two big pump packs of sunscreen which are always in the truck, along with two first-aid kits. I try and convince my guys to wear long sleeves for the added sun protection, but they think it's too hot.

User #4: The one thing that we are guilty of is dust protection. We are always trying to keep sites wet to stop the dust, but our saw is often run dry and there is always a lot of dust around. We wear masks for concrete cutting, and get the full kit on for asbestos fencing, but the rest of the time there is stuff flying everywhere.

User #2: I almost forgot two of the most important items, safety glasses and earplugs when needed. I keep my personal pair of earplugs in the work truck and a box of cheap ones for anyone that needs them. I used to hardly ever wear safety glasses when doing things like using the concrete saw or the breaker on our backhoe. But after I got something in my eye that bugged me for a few days, I keep a pair in the truck.

User #5: Hardhat, safety glasses, safety vests, and steel-toed boots are required at all times. Insurance companies like to see it as part of your company safety policy. If you require it at all times, the PPE is always present. It's inevitable that if you go from a residential/subdivision type job to a larger commercial/governmental job, the guys will have forgotten to bring their PPE. Face shields, earplugs, metacarpal protection, dust masks, or respirators as needed. is a user forum where professionals in the heavy-equipment industry can exchange ideas and post questions or comments. Users include owner/operators, operators, company owners, repair technicians, safety officers and others. Posts have been edited for clarity and content.