With heavy machinery, potentially falling objects, and extreme weather conditions, it’s important to stay safe while on a construction site. As a construction worker, you’re exposed to a variety of dangers and elements on the job.
If you’re injured while working, you may have to deal with the hassle of a worker’s compensation claim, missing work, or other more severe consequences. Keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy in the workplace is paramount to avoiding injury and remaining focused.
No matter what type of construction building you’re working on, the gear you wear every day helps protect you and keep you comfortable. Whether you’re a licensed general contractor or manual laborer, you’ll find that there are many different styles and options for construction gear. The colors, material, and construction of your gear determine its quality and how safe it’ll keep you at the job site.
In most cases, a hard hat is required for every worker on a job site. “Employees working in areas where there is a possible danger of head injury from impact, or from falling or flying objects, or from electrical shock and burns, shall be protected by protective helmets,” according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA also declares that construction workers who are required to wear hard hats must only don hats that are certified by the American National Standards Institute. When shopping for a hard hat, not only is its certification important, but also its color. Each job site uses hard hat color to identify specific workers and visitors.
Consult with your supervisor about the color and type of hard hat you should purchase. Replace your hard hat according to the manufacturer’s recommendations
While on the job, you may need to walk on composite roofing or concrete, which can quickly cause damage to your shoes. If you’re dealing with heavy material, there’s also the possibility that you could drop them on your toe or stub your toe on a hard surface. With safety-toe boots, your toes are protected with an insert of steel, plastic, or rubber.
High-quality safety-toe boots can take on any terrain and keep your feet protected from the elements on a construction site. Before choosing the type of boot you want to wear every day, try out steel-toed boots first to determine if they’re too heavy for your liking.
If so, you may feel more comfortable with boots that have plastic or rubber protection. If your boots are made of leather, keep them clean with leather conditioning or consider adding an outside toe protector to prevent damage.
Construction Work Shirts
Since you’re dealing with different tools and sharp edges on construction materials, it’s important to wear a work shirt that’s thick enough to protect you from scrapes, cuts, or burns. If it’s a hot day, consider a breathable, moisture-wicking shirt that will keep the sweat at bay.
On a cold day, you may be more comfortable with a thermal shirt. Be sure your shirt fits comfortably but also that it’s not too baggy. A loose-fitting shirt can get caught in equipment or inhibit your motion, putting you in danger.
You should also think about the color of the shirt you choose to wear. If you’re working in the dark, a bright colored shirt or a shirt with reflective properties makes it easier for other workers to see you. Purchase a few different construction work shirts so you can rotate them throughout your workweek.
Construction Work Jacket
A work jacket will keep you warm in the cold and can also protect you from the brutal sun or harsh materials you need to carry. Since a high-quality work jacket is usually an investment, it’s important to choose a piece made from good materials that will last a long time.
Generally, work jackets should be fleece or flannel-lined to keep you warm. It’s also beneficial to choose a jacket with a waterproof exterior, such as Teflon-coated or softshell.
Choosing a jacket with a hood is helpful in extreme weather conditions, such as snow or rain. Consider the practicality of the jacket for everyday use, such as the ease of zipping and unzipping, the number of pockets it includes, and its fit. Keep in mind, your jacket may be dry-clean-only so it’s important to review manufacturer cleaning instructions.
Construction Work Pants
Consult with your supervisor on the type of work pants you should wear to the job site. Sometimes, a thick pair of well-fitting jeans will suffice and keep you comfortable throughout the day. On cold days, you may need to wear thermal leggings underneath your jeans to keep your body warm in the elements.
If you’re kneeling throughout the day, you should also consider wearing knee pads over your construction work pants to protect your knees from hard surfaces. Ensure your pants fit properly and aren’t so baggy that they decrease your range of motion or could get caught on nearby machinery.
The type of gloves you need to remain comfortable and safe depends on the type of work you’ll be performing. You may need to consider:
- Heat-resistant gloves: These may be needed if you’re welding or dealing with other hot equipment.
- Rigger gloves: If you’re laying cable or using your hands to manipulate other materials, rigger gloves will help you grip.
- Anti-vibration gloves: When operating machinery that vibrates, such as a log splitter, these gloves minimize the discomfort in your hands.
- Grip gloves: If you’re dealing with greasy substances or slippery surfaces, grip gloves help your hands maintain control.
In some cases, you may simply need gloves to keep your hands warm while outside. Choose high-quality gloves that fit properly and allow you to perform your job easily. Always follow washing and care instructions for your gloves to ensure they stay clean and functional.
Face Protection Gear
On a construction site, you may encounter flying dust or debris from the cutting or moving of materials. Use safety goggles or glasses, as well as face protection to ensure your eyes, nose, mouth, and face aren’t affected by airborne materials.
Wearing a face cloth, face shield, or ear protection may also be necessary, depending on the type of job you’re performing. Inspect your face protection each day to ensure its integrity isn’t compromised and it can still adequately protect you.
Extra Gear to Help You Get Through the Work Day
You may also consider some non-essential extra gear that may help keep you comfortable throughout the day, including the following:
- Shoe covers;
- Mud boots;
- Rain jackets;
- Shop aprons;
- Tool belts.
As a construction worker, your job is demanding and dangerous. With the right gear, you can remain safe and comfortable, no matter what elements and equipment you’re dealing with on the job site.