Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a regulatory prerequisite to avert any harm to the health of workers, contracted or permanent staff, which decreases the likelihood of injury and illness.
The importance of workwear in the workplace to prevent risks and hazards cannot be stressed enough. Nearly every industry in the UK is aligned on its views regarding health and safety, and being sufficiently equipped for an employee’s daily tasks and responsibilities is a mandatory requirement. But, how is PPE and workwear actually used to prevent hazards in the workplace?
PPE normally consists of protection for delicate and sensitive areas, such as hard hat helmets for your head, and protective work boots, such as steel toe-capped boots, for the feet.
Specialist safety goggles and hearing protection are often used to protect sight and hearing, while face masks and guards are equipped to prevent inhaling harmful substances.
What are some typical workplace hazards?
In physically intensive labour environments like construction sites, there are several common hazards that workers have to be aware of.
Slips, trips, and falls
The most common in most working environments are slips, trips, and falls but on construction sites with often more uneven terrain, the risk is even higher. To reduce harm, workers should ensure that they’re wearing protective head and footgear, and slippery surfaces such as mud are treated with stone or grit.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Using power tools and ground working equipment over a long period of time can cause a debilitating set of symptoms in the sufferer’s nerves and joints.
Also known as HAVS, this is a permanent condition once it sets in but is easily preventable if given appropriate protection when using the culprit tools and equipment, such as “anti-vibration” gloves and warm clothing to encourage blood circulation.
Asbestos has been a well-known hazard in homes and offices since the 1990s when it was recognised as a carcinogen and banned internationally. Despite huge efforts to remove the substance from buildings, it still remains in some older homes that were built after regulations were put in place.
Due to its continued existence, there are whole sub-sectors of the construction industry dedicated to the safe removal of asbestos. For these companies, thorough risk assessments are required as well as appropriate breathing apparatus.
What industries require protective workwear?
Companies have a legal requirement to carry out risk assessments in the workplace, which will then determine what standard of protection is needed for your employees to perform your tasks to a safe and efficient level that also protects your health.
Labour industries, such as construction, warehousing, laboratories, landscaping, security, and catering are fine examples of industries that need protection due to exposure to exceeding noise levels, chemicals, heavy objects, scalding surfaces, and more.
What are typically the most important items of protective workwear?
From head to toe, the most crucial items of protective workwear needed in the workplace are:
Headwear, such as hard hat helmets. These are vital to protect the most important organ in your body from falling objects in instances such as working in construction. Woolly hats and beanies are also useful items of protective workwear to keep your head from being too cold in freezing weather conditions.
Respiratory protection is crucial when dealing with debris, dust, gases, and any other substances that you can be exposed to in workplaces such as laboratories, work sites, and warehouses, which can enter your body through the nose or mouth and can be harmful. Specialist respiratory protection, such as air-purifying respirators, and face masks can be used to prevent respiratory hazards in the workplace.
Hi-visibility and specialist fabric coats/jackets are breathable and if specifically mentioned – flame retardant. These coats and jackets are important when working in construction as an added layer of protection, and in other instances where you are exposed to hot temperatures and open flames. They provide the visibility and flexibility to carry out your day-to-day tasks with ease if you’re working in situations where it may be hard to notice you, such as roadworks.
Your eyes and ears are two of the most delicate sensory organs and need protection when exposed to loud noises, extremely-bright lights, and dusty areas. Safety goggles/glasses and noise-reduction headphones/ear muffs can prevent any inconvenient hazards when at work.
Workwear suppliers, such as XY Workwear, are one of the leading workwear suppliers in the UK, distributing to every inch of Great Britain.