(WACO) – Students in the Building Construction Technology program at Texas State Technical College recently learned about the importance of personal protection equipment.
Ben Sanchez, a safety specialist for Richards Supply Co. in Fort Worth, talked to students about what the safety responsibilities of employers and employees.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace safety guidelines.
There were 991 deaths in the construction field in 2016, according to OSHA. The agency’s “fatal four” for most of these deaths were falls, being hit by objects, electrocutions and caught-in or -between situations involving equipment or collapsing structures.
Construction industry safety could save more than 630 lives in the United States per year, according to OSHA.
“Employers must protect their employees,” Sanchez said.
Employers should perform a regular hazard assessment and find ways to eliminate problems. After hazards are assessed, employers need to consider what personal protection equipment is needed, Sanchez said. Some of the equipment can include ear protection, respirators, hard hats and safety vests.
Some of the workplace dangers that can occur include falling tools, which can be remedied with tool lanyards. There were 93 worker fatalities from being struck by objects in the U.S. in 2016, according to OSHA.
Sanchez said people in the construction field need to wear face protection to reduce injuries caused by dust particles, cleaning solutions, chemical splashes and other substances. Face protection includes properly fitting, prescription eyewear with the correct indoor and outdoor tints and coatings.
“The quality of the coating matches the cost of the glasses,” Sanchez said.
Eyewear should also include quality foam lining.
“You are not going to get a good seal with just plastic on your face,” Sanchez said.
Some construction work requires respirators, which employers must have employees wear only if they are cleared medically and physically. Sanchez said employers should develop worker change-out schedules when respirators are needed.
“If you can smell or taste it, it’s in your lungs,” he said.
Sanchez said hearing protection should be used according to the decibel level of what is happening around employees. He said the noise-reduction rating should be considered when buying hearing protection.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, more than 4 million workers work in damaging noise conditions. In 2017, there were 23,000 cases nationally reported of occupational hearing loss that could lead to hearing impairment, according to NIOSH.
Students said they were glad to hear the information, which is reinforced daily by faculty members through quizzes, course lessons and enforced guidelines for working in the construction lab.
“Looking forward, our end goal is getting a good job,” said Courtney Seelhorst, 29, a Building Construction Technology major from Plano. “To have someone from the outside in industry coming to talk to us makes it real and applicable.”
Mae Allen, 18, a Building Construction Technology major from Waco, said Sanchez’s talk made her think more about protecting her eyes.
“I like taking things and making them new,” Allen said. “I’m good with my hands and doing things myself.”
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.