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Five key considerations when investing in workwear and PPE
By Kevin Rowe 1 years ago No comments
For many businesses, workwear and personal protective equipment (PPE) represent a day-to-day essential in the work they do. Purchasing the right protective gear can minimise the risks associated with performing hazardous tasks, and potentially even save lives.
However, because onsite workwear is so commonplace, it sometimes means that companies do not always put a lot of thought into their policies on PPE purchasing and use, seeing it as a mundane formality rather than a decision-making process that requires careful consideration. Although there’s no need to get tangled up in bureaucracy, this doesn’t mean that bosses shouldn’t be giving the issue some thought.
With this in mind, here are five of the most important factors to consider when deciding how and when to utilise workwear and PPE in your operations:
Only use workwear and PPE when it’s required
One of the most vital considerations when developing a PPE policy is knowing that protective workwear should always be seen as an addition to a rigorous workplace safety policy, rather than a replacement for it.
PPE is designed to offer protection against potentially injury-causing hazards such as dangerous machinery, falls from height, toxic substances and extreme temperatures - all of which are dangers that you should ideally try to eliminate completely through careful risk management and safe systems of work, rather than relying on PPE as a crutch.
Naturally, this isn’t always possible, which is when PPE is truly needed. But it’s essential that businesses remember that this kind of workwear is intended as a last resort, rather than an alternative to proper safety controls - and that the necessary gear is always provided to staff free of charge when it’s truly essential.
Consider the requirements of the task
A key mistake that companies can make is adopting a generic approach when allocating workwear and PPE, rather than actually thinking about the specific needs of the job at hand.
It’s not enough to hand your workers a hi-vis jacket, a hard hat and some safety gloves for every task and expect it to be enough - you should always carry out a full and proper risk assessment, and ensure that the equipment you provide is truly fit for purpose. This means thinking about the specific risks your staff will be exposed to and for how long, and then invest in gear that will offer comprehensive protection, from the head, body and limbs through to the eyes, ears and lungs.
You should also make sure that the PPE you purchase fits your workers comfortably and securely, as ill-fitting workwear can be less effective as a protection, and can also hinder the staff member’s productivity. Additionally, ensure that any equipment you buy can actually be used together - for example, if a pair of safety glasses would disturb the seal of a respirator, then they shouldn’t be worn at the same time.
Be aware of the relevant regulations
Not all items of PPE are created equal. UK and European regulators have strict rules in place to make sure that any protective workwear used in professional circumstances is fit for purpose, and these rules need to be followed at all times.
As such, you need to make sure you’re buying products that are CE Mark-approved, in accordance with the UK’s Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. It’s also vital to keep abreast of changes in legislation that affect might PPE policies, such as EU Regulation 2016/425, which came into effect in 2018 and introduced even higher quality standards in the field of PPE production.
To avoid falling foul of any of these laws, it’s worth making sure you buy from a trusted supplier of legally compliant PPE - such as SafetyBuyer - who only promote and distribute PPE from leading manufacturers here in the UK.
Provide the appropriate training
Not every item of protective workwear is necessarily self-explanatory, so if you’re investing in PPE for your workforce, it’s also important to take the time to make sure they are well-trained in how to actually use them.
Providing the proper training will help to instruct staff on key issues such as how to securely fasten their safety harnesses or how to remove safety gloves without contaminating their skin. These sessions also offer an opportunity to explain when the equipment should be used, what its limitations are, and how to use and maintain the equipment without accidentally damaging it.
Additionally, training gives you the opportunity to make sure all staff members are educated about and bought into the necessity of using PPE. It can be all too easy for workers to get lax about using their workwear, especially for shorter jobs, so taking the time to teach them about the reasons why they’re using the gear can make a real difference.
Look after your equipment
High-quality PPE is designed to be durable, but nothing lasts forever, especially when exposed to regular wear and tear. That’s why it’s vital to look after workwear, and to replace it when it’s no longer fit for use.
PPE should always be cleaned, stored safely and monitored to make sure no faults have arisen since the last time it was used. Staff will need to play a key part in this process, taking the time to check that the equipment is still working, and to report it to their line manager or a responsible member of the health and safety team when this is no longer the case.
If essential workwear does sustain some damage, then it needs to either be repaired or replaced effectively as soon as possible. Making do without the gear should never be considered an acceptable cost-saving measure, and nor should companies be replacing broken equipment with substandard or ill-fitting replacement parts.
Good health and safety in the workplace requires continual investment and monitoring, and PPE and workwear is certainly no exception to that - so make sure you stay on top of this!
For more insights into health and safety best practice, check in regularly with the SafetyBuyer blog. Alternatively, you can check out the main SafetyBuyer site to browse a wide range of products, including PPE & workwear. Our site offers a real depth of choice, clear descriptions and detailed specifications, helping your organisation make better-informed purchasing decisions.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 0800 043 0161.