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Personal protective equipment in construction | KTF Africa
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Personal protective equipment in construction

How personal protective equipment in construction can save lives, money and resources

Today, we at KTF Africa want to discuss the considerations of personal protective equipment in construction, and particularly, how welding fumes can affect your employees

Welding fume is composed of very fine, solid particles of metal oxides that form during the welding process. The makeup of welding fume is dependent on the composition of the material being welded, the welding method and the type of shielding.

The amount of each substance a welder inhales is dependant on several additional variables, including welding amperage, welding position, area ventilation (or weather conditions if outdoors) and local ventilation. Accurate exposure assessment usually requires air sampling by an industrial hygienist or trained individual.

Exposures to certain components of welding fume above the occupational exposure limits negatively can affect many parts of the body, including the lungs, heart, kidneys, reproductive system and central nervous system, which warrants the need for personal protective equipment in construction.


 Short-term effects from over-exposure to airborne welding fumes can include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat; coughing; shortness of breath; bronchitis; increased infections of the respiratory tract; fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema); and a flu-like illness known as metal fume fever.

Long-term welders face a 30 to 40 percent increased risk of lung cancer.1 This could be due to the high rate of smoking among welders, frequent exposure to asbestos or exposure to welding fumes. Other potential cancer-causing components of welding fume are hexavalent chromium and nickel.

The best way to avoid both short- and long-term illnesses related to welding is to control respiratory hazards using personal protection equipment in construction such as gas masks.


In many cases, engineering controls alone may not be feasible or may not reduce exposure levels adequately. In such cases, it may be appropriate to use respirators to help reduce exposures to airborne contaminants. Here are the top 5 considerations for PPE and construction respirators:

Reusable respirators may last longer, but they require daily cleaning and maintenance — an added labor cost that often is overlooked. Depending on the type of unit, maintenance may include washing, filter changing, battery charging, inspection and component replacement. Personal protective equipment in construction must be properly maintained.

Depending on job conditions, disposable filtering facepiece respirators quickly can become clogged or damaged, making the long-term cost of replacement offset the lower cost.

Training requirements and respirator maintenance costs vary. For example, consider if users will be trained to maintain their personal units or if designated maintenance personnel will be responsible for these tasks.

Comfort is even more important than cost. Personal protective equipment in construction is nothing without comfort. Respirators must be worn the entire time the worker is exposed to hazardous contaminants, so consider the comfort and fit of the respirator and the tasks the worker is performing. Additionally, required use of respirators with tight-fitting facepieces requires fit testing prior to use.

Another personal protective equipment in construction consideration is heat stress, which may result in reduced productivity, reduced quality, increased risk of accidents and higher turnover. Supplied air respirator systems employing vortex cooling technology may counter heat stress.

As you can see, there are a variety of considerations for personal protective equipment in construction companies, and industrial works. Hopefully this article has helped you make your choices regarding respirators. We at KTF Africa are always here to help. Contact us if you have further questions