The Dickies Quick Guide To PPE In Construction And Trade

In addition to planning, managing and monitoring construction work, contractors are also responsible for controlling health and safety risks on site.

The correct Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is a fundamental part, to ensure each person in the workforce is adequately equipped. The gear needed greatly depends on the type of work being done, tools being used and hazardous materials being handled, but here’s a list of the basic PPE gear options to ensure compliance with legislation.

safety glasses logoEye Protection

Why you need it On a construction site, workers regularly come into contact with eye safety hazards like prolonged exposure to UV rays, chemical splashes, gases, vapor, and excessive dust. There’s also the risk of wood chips, paint, dirt and metal projectiles.  

Types of eye protection Visors, face protection kits, safety goggles and spectacles




  • Wearing the wrong kind of eye protection is just as dangerous as wearing none.
  • To be effective, protective eyewear needs to be appropriate for the job and fit snugly and comfortably.
  • When wearing goggles for a long period of time, air should still be able to circulate between the eye and the lens.

respiratory mask iconRespiratory Protection

Why you need it Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) must be used on construction sites where respiratory hazards pose a risk. Some gases and substances have immediate harmful effects, like carbon monoxide, while others can do damage over a long period of time, like asbestos.

Other hazards include fumes from welding, grinding or brazing, lead dust, dust from cutting concrete and sandblasting, solvents, gases and vapours.

Types of respiratory protection Respirators and filters, disposable masks, half and full-face respirators, helmets with air feeds.



  • Respiratory protection must be suited to a specific task and fit the wearer comfortably.
  • In the UK, it’s law that respiratory protective equipment should only be worn as a last line of protection once all other reasonable controls have been put into place.
  • Each piece of RPE equipment must be CE marked to confirm it meets minimum requirements by law.
  • Disposable respirators marked with EN149 meet minimum requirements and come in three classes – FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. The higher the number the higher the level of protection.


safety clothes graphicBody Protection

Why you need it To protect against wear and tear of regular clothing, guard against extreme temperatures, chemical splashes, penetration by harmful objects and more on a construction site.    

Types of body protection Protective overalls, disposable suits, specialist protective clothes and aprons, flame retardant trousers and jackets, high visibility clothing and accessories.




  • Protective clothing comes in a variety of materials, including flame retardant, anti-static, chemical resistant, high-vis and chain mail, for example.
  • The minimum standard of high-vis clothing is EN: 471 which specifies 3 classes – the first providing the lowest level of visibility and the third the highest level.


safety shoe iconFoot Protection

Why you need it Slipping, cuts, punctures, extreme temperatures, falling objects like tools, tiles, hoist loads and more, as well as rolling objects like carts and material-handling vehicles.    

Types of foot protection Safety boots and shoes, waterproof footwear, wellingtons, boots, steel-toe caps.




  • Safety boots must comply with EN20345 to meet the required standards in the UK.
  • Safety footwear usually carries a two or three letter code which defines its unique safety standards.
  • Consider sole patterns and materials, as slip resistance is an important factor to consider when choosing the correct safety shoes or boots.


safety gloves logoHand and Arm Protection

Why you need it Extreme temperatures, cuts and lacerations from rough, sharp edges, punctures, electric shocks, splashes, skin infections and impacts.    

Types of hand and arm protection Safety gloves, electrical and chemical safety gloves, thermal gloves, cut resistant gloves, gauntlets, heavy duty gloves, extra-grip gloves.




  • Gloves generally fall into two categories – safety or grip - with some incorporating features of both.
  • In construction, there’s a huge variety of safety gloves to choose from depending on what task is being carried out, from high visibility gloves for low light work to vinyl coated gloves that remain soft even when cold to maintain dexterity and touch sensitivity.

safety helment logoHead Protection

Why you need it One of the most regularly purchased types of PPE, safety helmets protect wearers against flying and falling objects and bumps, and also prevents hair from becoming entangled with anything on site. Some are fitted with eye and hearing protection too.  

Types of head protection Safety helmets, hard hats, bump caps and head protection kits



  • It’s vital that safety helmets conform to UK construction safety standards, which means they’ve been rigorously tested for use in construction environments.
  • In the UK, law requires that head protection be worn at construction sites.
  • According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE), hard hats should only be bought from a reputable supplier as there are fake ones on the market.

Keep your head on straight with industry-leading head protection. Below we have a comprehensive guide to all things safety helmets. Learn about this essential piece of PPE’s surprising history and know it intimately with a diagram of all its different parts. 

 Safety helmet guide