Why Construction Workers Should Wear Long Sleeve PPE

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Why Construction Workers Should Wear Long Sleeve PPE
Updated on June 11, 2011 marcofratelli more What is “PPE”?
“PPE” stands for “Personal Protective Equipment”. With regards to health and safety in the workplace, PPE refers to a wide range of protective clothing or equipment worn by a worker for safety. Some examples of PPE found on a construction site include safety glasses, gloves and hard hats.

Long Sleeve PPE
In recent times, more and more construction sites and companies are adopting the “long sleeve PPE” safety policy. This generally refers to the requirement to have all members of the workforce wearing long sleeve shirts and long trousers (no shorts) when working on site.

Many construction sites now have a “minimum PPE” requirement that requires everyone on site to wear the following at all times: * hard hat * safety glasses * steel cap boots * high visibility shirt

Some sites still allow short sleeve “high-viz” shirts and shorts to be worn on site. This is typical on building sites, such as in the housing market. However as the focus increases on safety, the general direction of company policies is moving towards long sleeve high visibility shirts and long trousers to be worn on construction sites. The main reason for this new requirement is quite simply sun protection.This is particularly the case in Australia where the rates of skin cancer are the highest in the world.

At the start of many construction projects, new team members may try to resist wearing long sleeve PPE and persistently challenge this relatively new requirement. In the interest of construction worker safety, the following are some suggested answers to common challenges/complaints raised by construction workers when asked to wear long sleeve PPE…

Recommended Construction Safety Books
Principles of Construction Safety Buy Now Construction Safety Handbook: A Practical Guide to OSHA Compliance and Injury Prevention Buy Now Construction Site Safety: A Guide for Managing Contractors Buy Now Introduction to Health and Safety in Construction (Black margin:0px !important;” /> Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do I have to wear long sleeve PPE? A: You should wear long sleeve PPE for maximum sun protection. It is company policy. It is also becoming a construction industry standard.

Q: But I didn’t have to wear it on the last job…? A: This is not “the last job”. This is a new project/site and long sleeve PPE forms part of the minimum PPE requirements.

Q: But if I wear long sleeve PPE, how am I supposed to get a tan? A: You are here to work. This is a construction site, not a beauty parlor or tanning salon.

Q: Well, on the weekend I may go to the beach and get sunburnt because I have to stay in the sun longer since I can’t get a tan during the week… A: What you do on the weekend is up to you, however at work the company policy (and your condition of employment that you agreed to by working here) is to wear long sleeve PPE.

Q: How about if we sign a petition that the company is not liable if we get skin cancer. Then can we wear short sleeves? A: No, it doesn’t work that way. By law, it is a duty of care requirement for both parties. The company’s duty of care is to ensure it is putting policies and systems in place to ensure the employee is safe at work. The employee’s duty of care is to comply with these procedures to ensure their safety.

Q: But I wear sunscreen… A: That is great, however you still need to wear long sleeve PPE! Sunscreen is a good form of sun protection against UV light that is reflected from the ground or against concrete surfaces. It is a good secondary protection precaution where UV is not reflected on your hat or high viz clothing.

Q: It’s too hot to wear long sleeve PPE. A: You will actually find that when the sun does not hit your skin directly it is in fact much cooler to wear long sleeve PPE.

Q: Can I roll my sleeves up? A: Some companies may allow this, however logically wearing long sleeve PPE and rolling the sleeves up is similar to wearing short sleeve PPE and therefore not acceptable.

Your Say
Do you think construction workers should wear long sleeve PPE?

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sendingGuru 2 weeks ago

Most melanoma cases are on the face, how are companies going to protect the face.


steve 2 years ago

MMM lets get real 1.Its a well known fact that skin cancer is associated with CHILDHOOD exposure to the sun.2.No 1 rule of machinery NO LOSE CLOTHING 3.Most of these INFLICTIONS are bought to us by people in air conned offices with ROLES not actual productive JOBS like the rest of us 5.NO PERSON is able to maintain focus when discomforted to the point of dehydration.6.last but not least the GUISE of “caring”is all only as the trade say”arse covering”KIWIS love “she,ll be right” and “N0 8 wire”,after all lets see the rule pushers lead by example…”YEAH RIGHT!!!”LTFOL!!!!!!

Ceiling fixer 4 years ago

I was forced to wear a long sleeve top today at work, I’ve got no problem with that if the client (an oil company) wants me top wear long sleeve shirt when it’s 45 degrees up where all the services are running then I expect them to at least provide water on every floor!! this is on shore not off shore!!

health and safety has gone too far!! common sense is becoming a thing of the past…. now i get told what to wear!! next thing we’ll have to show them our lunch to see if it’s ok to eat!!

enjoylife 5 years ago

to all of you safety haters…ya all are risk takers that you should make your own company and try to get a job without proper safety system …coz you don’t like rules then you can make your own rules …so no one will be busy when you cut your hand or feel sorry when you have skin cancer…may luck be with all the time…but when i come across any of you surely i will make the company to get rid off all risk takers like you

Re: New summer uniform for office workers.

Please check out the brilliant new uniform that we’ve been waiting for, for so long.

As you will notice from the attached sample, jacket and pants are made from a very durable plastic, which is easy to wipe down from coffee spills etc. The bright colours match our trades persons uniforms perfectly in bright green and yellow, so as to reduce the amount of clothing needed to take with you for on site visits. Also this looks very professional to our visitors, because it looks like we do more work.

The four reflective stripes around the arms and legs will ensure that you just can’t be bumped into in the corridor any more. Please make sure you also pick up the new curved Bolle’ style safety glasses. We have had more than one incident of pen accidently poked in the eye, and our current 4 million dollar safety program has brought us to this solution.

The boots are also reflective, to match, and brings into line the standard of steel caps that we’ve been waiting for. No more foot injuries and lost time to that dropped stapler…etc.

Finally, admin have noticed that there are a lot of complaints about the trade uniforms of late, so we have included a quality pair of ear muffs that needs to be worn when ever this happens.

You will notice that the new uniform material makes a lovely scratch scratch sound as you walk around the office, and this was intentional, as in the event of you not seeing the other office worker, you will always hear them. Our plan was to have beepers fitted to each pair of boots, but this was not possible in the time frame given. Maybe in the next model !

Looking after our staff.


ALSO….. Yes you do lose heat through your head, which is why we need to relax the helmets a bit indoors in summer. THEY ARE PLASTIC which doesn’t help. I’ve just taken delivery of my new uniform (no not a summer one, they are all the same), and this year for the first time there are 2 plastic stripes around the body, and 2 plastic stripes around the arms. So even though we all wanted cotton (which they are), this has been bastardised by 25% plastic covering, making them worse for heat than ever. Our new jackets are all plastic top to bottom, so imagine where the sweat stays in them! Inside the cotton lining going mouldy! All this in the name of company profiles and hi viz! AND…. this all burns and melts very willingly !!!!!

Surely no one will defend this crazy fetish much longer………….

Grippa 5 years ago

Read all the above, unfortunately the long sleeve brigade don’t explain how putting more clothes on keeps you cool! Keeping cool works like this: Your body temperature rises, you sweat (some way more than others), the moisture on the skin surface evaporates, and this feels nice (cool). However, if your moisture can’t evaporate, your clothes get wetter and wetter and hotter and hotter. This chafes the skin and you don’t cool. You and your clothes smell bad too. The reason that arms and legs are the topic of conversation here, is that they are the body’s natural cooling system. All the blood vessels in arms and legs are closer to the skin surface, and work like a radiator. If you cover them up they don’t work! Check out the percentages of skin area on the human body and you’ll be impressed with why this design works so well. Some people don’t need to shed as much heat as others. For me, if I wear too much in summer, I have found that I get over heated, dehydrated, irritable and unproductive. All classic signs of heat stress. There are many factors contributing to why we all feel heat and cold differently, including metabolism. I need to eat so we try to come up with the best solutions to prevent future incidents. Yes, staying hydrated and following procedures may not always be easy, but it truly is the best way to leave the job at the end of the day in the same condition you arrived.

Jules 7 years ago

Marco, you have not answered Brent’s point about long sleeves being caught in power tools and auger type machinery. If the increase of these types of injuries correlate with the introduction of long sleeves do you think there may be a reversal of this standard? Perhaps “the boffins” may say this is a good outcome as it’s pretty hard to get skin cancer on your arms if you don’t have any! Also the long sleeves could then be rolled up and a knot tied in the end to stop the bleeding and exposing the other workers to potential PTSD??? Dying in hospital over 6 months with skin cancer or 50 years of not being able to wipe your bum etc….. I know what I would choose!

Mike, it’s not about being clever. These are the rules. If you don’t like them, that’s fine. No skin off my back. The only problem then becomes your employment options. Unfortunately, in Australia anyway, these are the standards.

This hub is deliberately written in the same manner we get spoken to for trying to enforce the rules, doing our job as engineers. Best of luck.

Mike 7 years ago

You guys talk like your pretty clever. Maybe you could let me know who I would be taking to court if and when I ever succumb to heat exhaustion.I don’t know about you guys but with my health condition I need to stay as cool as possible and the thoughts of wearing long sleeves on a hot and humid day makes me want to vomit.

Thank you SAFETY FIRST! Stated perfectly.

SAFETY FIRST 7 years ago

Sometimes safety rules and regs do suck and make life a little more uncomfortable…everyone realizes this. However, do you think that being uncomfortbale wearing long sleeves for the 8-12 hours you work in a day(and eventually getting used to it)would be worse then not seeing your kids grow up, never seeing your spouse again, having your loved ones watch you waste away in a hospital bed and barely be able to recognize you because you have had multiple surgeries to remove the skin cancer? Yeah, totally uncomfortable-stupid sleeves! This is just one example. Taking shortcuts in safety because you are “uncomfrotable” is a very poor and selfish excuse. Ulitmately, you are in charge of your own safety…if you choose to take shortcuts and put yourself at risk, trust me, you are affecting more than just yourself and the after affects will go on for years, especially if something serious or traumatic happens. Just thought you might want to chew on that for a bit…just don’t choke.

John 7 years ago

I fail to see how ‘duty of care’ relates to this. It would thereby follow that no employees can eat bacon sandwiches or smoke whilst at or travelling to or from work because of health risks… Ludicrous! Certain decisions are an individual’s personal responsibility, guidance can be given, but the final decision should made by the employee themselves

Hi Tguy, yes I am an engineer. But the last job I worked on was at a precast yard, spending at least 50% of my day if not more with the guys outside (we were short staffed). First off I’d like to say I thought the idea of a waiver was “thinking outside the box”, however it was mentioned at the yard and I did chase it up to see if it was possible. Unfortunately it wasn’t, the company still had a duty of care towards the employee’s safety, as does each employee with each other and the duty of care to comply.

This hub was written after a period of time where I was so fed up of asking the team to comply without having to be a prick about it – it was my responsibility and I was getting my butt kicked because as a group we weren’t complying to the company standards. Well, as a matter of fact, it was our company’s client that dictated the conditions of the project. Sadly, it’s actually gotten to a stage where if we don’t comply or have a good safety record, we can’t win work and that translates through to the hard working men on the ground like yourself.

By the end of the job, nearly everyone realized that the rules weren’t there to make their life difficult. Two years on, I’m still getting calls to give a reference for tradesmen I’ve worked with and I make a point of mentioning their good safety culture. If they really thought I was a prick, I don’t think they’d have put me down as a reference…

Tguy 7 years ago

marcofratelli, please. You sound like a good ol pencil pusher right there. You would have the same pissed off attitude we all do if you actually worked outside. And its not that we don’t enjoy it. Its just people like you who abuse the rules and laws. I joined construction for a reason because i enjoy it. But with all the safly blah, and regulation bs. It doesent impress me. What ever happened to free will right? I don’t wanna wear a long sleeve shirt. I get skin cancer. Aslong as your aware of the possible outcomes. Maybe a waiver would be a good idea.

Or you can wear your hat and sunscreen and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. You can either change your attitude toward safety or find a different career. This is the standard for nearly every company today if you’re working for a large respectable firm. That’s not to say there aren’t still some backyard operations taking short cuts and risks. At the end of the day it’s up to you, no one can force you to wear long sleeve if you don’t want to (but often that means having to find work somewhere else – it’s a condition of employment). The rules are there for a reason.

hodcarrier 7 years ago

these muppets that come up with these rules about long sleeve ppe really haven’t spent any time in the practical side of a building site. I carry for 4 brickies and don’t stop all day everyday. add this to workin in the swelterin heat in long shirt and pants is an absolute joke. change the rules before people die from heat exhaustion!!!!!!!

Brent Durette 7 years ago

People who justify these laws should live them for a period of time before enforcing them.

I was introduced to a long sleeve rule today. Indoors. 95 deg. And working around power tools that can “Catch” my sleeves at any inattentive moment.

And felt empathy for my fellow workers, who were working harder than me, some overweight and so-on.

Not justified!!!

It is cruel!!


To the point of being dangerous.

I am ready to walk off the job as a result of this ridiculous safety concern.

It creates more problems that it solves.

I am disgusted!

It supposed to be even hotter tomorrow.

What next?

Knee high work boots and 4 ply pants?


adam hodson 7 years ago

well marcofratelli, you’ve hit the nail right on the head there haven’t you “Already people who get injured at work take companies to court for compensation”. surprise surprise. no real thought about the workforce, just worried about the cost of compensation, and don’t kid me with the looking after employees line because its wearing very thin. life is difficult enough without little hitlers popping up from everywhere telling us we cant do this and cant wear that. these companies are too interested in what they look like rather than whether the job gets done right and to a good standard. MY rant is not over as it seems we will all be doing it for a while yet, probably until you see us all wearing protective bubbles while we work. what you want to do is try working in the sweltering heat wearing long sleeves and pants and laying 6 inch concrete blocks (bit heavier than a damn pen). no one moans when we are working out in the rain though do they? what about our health then eh?!

Authormarcofratelli 7 years ago from Australia

Hi Mr Stocks,

In many cases it does seem like healthy and safety is getting out of hand. The problem is that companies have an obligation width:300px;height:250px” data-ad-client=”ca-pub-7547369567510288″ data-page-url=”//marcofratelli.hubpages.com/hub/Why-Construction-Workers-Should-Wear-Long-Sleeve-PPE” data-ad-slot=”1186173963″>

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