There is no doubt that workplace safety has taken center stage in the business world after this last year. In particular, personal protective equipment (PPE) became a matter of concern for many industries.
Even though it always plays an important role in the construction industry, employers and leaders in the industry cannot overlook the evolving trends around PPE – or their duties regarding it.
Remember: Providing PPE is an employer’s responsibility
Most employers know that federal and state laws require them to provide and pay for their employees’ PPE. According to OSHA, this responsibility obligates employers to take specific steps, including:
- Identifying and assessing all hazards in the workplace
- Determining which PPE is appropriate to combat these hazards
- Providing such PPE to employees and training them on the proper use
Failing to take these steps – and take this responsibility seriously – could put employers and their companies at risk. They could face financial penalties and citations for violating OSHA’s policies.
However, those are not the only consequences employers could face. There are many cases where employees can take legal action against their employers if they do not provide the proper PPE. For example, if the contract or employment agreement addresses PPE, employers could face claims that they breached the contract. Moreover, the risk of these types of lawsuits seems to be increasing as employee concerns increase.
Emphasis on PPE will likely keep growing
PPE was already one of the most critical issues for construction companies. The COVID-19 pandemic placed more emphasis on PPE than ever before. Employees began to worry about safety measures and PPE to mitigate the risks of illness, and that concern overlapped with general PPE rules as well.
A recent report indicated that the increased focus on PPE will continue in 2021. There are two specific reasons why PPE will remain in the spotlight in the construction industry:
- Renewed focus on workplace safety: Even as vaccinations become widely available, PPE and workplace safety will still be a primary concern for both California employees and employers.
- Increases in wearable PPE: The concept of wearable PPE has been a point of interest in the construction industry for some time. These devices help identify hazards and prevent workplace injuries, which remain a critical risk in this line of work. More and more wearable devices are becoming accessible, and employers must carefully consider how they will implement this form of PPE into their workplace.
Since PPE is such an essential element in the construction industry, it is almost an easy thing for employers to overlook. However, it remains an important part of compliance and safety.