Stay far away from the ER; create and use your own PPE kit

SAFETY IS AN A-NO. 1 PRIORITY at Tucker Paving, and we have solid achievements to show for it — like more than 1 million man hours without a single loss-time injury by any of our employees. (If you missed it, a nice newspaper article about this can be found here.) A good part of our safety success is a result of management’s requirement that ALL employees on a construction job site fully and properly wear their PPE (personal protective equipment) — hard hats, safety glasses, gloves, etc.

Whether you make a living in construction or work indoors, it’s not a bad idea to have your own PPE kit for use on the job or at home or during travel in between — for use “just in case.” The total cost of the kit items isn’t all that much. It’s certainly less than the cost of an injury-related trip to the after-hours clinic or, worse, the local hospital emergency room.

So, what could constitute a good PPE kit and what should you know before buying each of the items? As a general rule — and like Dad used to tell us when it came to tools — buy the best you can afford. A PPE kit can be basic, or it can be deluxe, or it can be custom, depending on the application, environment, or task. We’ll focus here on the basics — for everyday home or general use.

• Hard hat

• Safety eyewear, such as goggles

• Hearing protection

• Safety-toe protective footwear

• Sturdy non-slip work boots

• Long-sleeve shirts

• Long pants

• Gloves of various kinds

• Ordinary cold-weather gear

• Rain gear with boots

• Safety vest (highly visible and reflective)

• Dust mask and/or respirator

Any number of websites on the Internet can help you determine how to select the best or most appropriate kind of PPE item on this list. A good place to start would be the website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally, you can use an Internet search engine (Google, Bing, or Yahoo!, etc.) and do a search for “How to choose the best hard hat (or safety eyewear, or any of the other PPE items).”

In the interest of safety, for everyone, we hope this helps — and helps to keep you away from the ER.