Research has found that around one in three (30 per cent) of workplace accidents that require hospital treatment are caused largely due to the wrong clothing being worn. It is also worth noting that businesses could be hit with significant fines should it be found that they are in any way guilty of negligence.
Choosing the right clothing for the task
If working in extremely hot environments, for example, the clothing needs to protect while also enabling the wearer to remain cool. If working around hazardous chemicals or substances, the clothing must protect the skin. If working in an area that is fast-paced and necessitates quick or sudden movements, the clothing must be both durable and unrestrictive.
So, with that in mind, here is a simple list of the key things you need to consider when choosing the workwear and the materials that your employees will don when working for, or on behalf of, your organisation.
A mini checklist
1. Ensure that the chosen clothing fits as it should. It shouldn’t be too loose or too tight, and each employee should be inspected upon the first fitting to ensure all is well. Considering diversity is essential part of the choice process - employees should know their gender and religious beliefs have been taken into account.
2. Ensure the materials chosen are fit for purpose and are chosen for their suitability for the job at hand, rather than solely for cost or fashion reasons. Is it important for jackets to be reflective? Do health and safety rules dictate the standards required for certain jobs with regards resistance. This ISO standards link highlights what to look for in protective clothing. Where Hi-Vis is required it is important to understand the difference between Class 1 and Class 3 Hi-Vis PPE.
3. Footwear is just as important as what is worn over one’s legs and torso. All items of footwear need to meet all appropriate safety regulations. At HeathBrook we offer shoe fitting clinics and can give expert advice. The safety footwear standards in the UK are the same as the footwear standards across Europe: EN ISO 20345:2011. According to the standard all safety shoes including wellingtons and trainers must protect the toes against a 200 joule impact. Just with Hi-Vis it is important to understand the different classifications and also consider the slip ratings associated with the safety footwear you are purchasing. Again we can provide expert advice.
|SBP||As SB with Mid-Sole Penetration Protection|
|S1||Anti-static, Oil-Resistant and Energy Absorption|
|S1P||As S1 with Mid-Sole Penetration Protection|
|S2||Prevents Water Penetration|
|S3||Midsole Penetration Resistance|
|S5||Leak-Proof with Midsole Penetration Resistance|
4. All contractors, regardless of how long they are liable to be on site, need to also adhere to all rules and regulations. There can be no cutting corners in any situation, for legal, professional and safety reasons. Site responsibility extends to visitors in many situations so it is important to have rules in place that ensure visitor safety when it comes to clothing and visibility. Give briefings, even if they are short and to the point, to everyone who enters the workplace or work environment to ensure they are fully aware of the potential risks, their responsibilities, and also what they can do should they encounter any problems.
5. Of course, just as important as knowing what you should wear is knowing what you should avoid. Clothing that is too revealing or the wrong type of material for a job - easily wrinkled, not as dirt resistant as it should be, colours can also give the wrong impression, so these need to be chosen carefully to reflect the right brand image.