James Whitaker, Marketing Director at Dickies Workwear, shares his advice on what to consider when shopping for protective clothing and footwear.
PPE has certainly been a trending topic during the Coronavirus outbreak, with many headlines pointing to a lack of protection for frontline healthcare workers.
This has naturally put the spotlight on the need to make sure that everyone has the right PPE to stay safe while working – something you need to consider when shopping for workwear.
Making sure you have the right PPE you need to do your job safely is likely to be one of the first topics covered during your training, but when it comes to choosing workwear at the start of your career, it can be difficult to keep track of all the safety requirements you need to think about as you shop for clothing and footwear.
Start at the bottom
When shopping for safety footwear, choose shoes or boots bearing the S3 classification, which means they’ll offer an anti-penetration insole (preventing injury should you accidentally step on sharp objects such as loose nails), plus resistance to water penetration and absorption, as well as toe protection.
Also go for a slip-resistant outsole – any shoe offering SRC slip resistance helps to prevent slipping on a ceramic tile or steel surface. This is the highest level of protection against slip resistance available.
As most electricians spend much of their days bending or kneeling, look for safety footwear that’s flexible and that doesn’t feel too heavy. A composite toe cap is a lighter – and far safer – option for electricians than traditional steel toe caps.
Similarly, trousers designed with flexible fabric are worth investing in, as the freedom of movement they offer will help keep you comfortable throughout the day. Elasticated waistbands will help protect your back, while practical features such as plenty of pockets are a must.
If you’re working on a job that involves any poorly lit conditions, hi-vis clothing is a must. These days, there are lots of hi-vis options available, from hoodies and sweatshirts, to jackets, t-shirts, trousers and coveralls, including waterproof options.
All hi-vis clothing must conform to the required EN471 British standard. Within this standard, there are three classes of hi-vis – ranging from Class 1 to Class 3. These are ranked according to the volume of fluorescent and retroflective surface areas they include, with Class 3 providing the highest level of visibility.
Remember it’s important that hi-vis clothing is kept clean to ensure they remain visible, so choose options that are easy to wash.
Use your head
Especially when working on construction sites, you’ll need to wear a safety helmet and many include eye and hearing protection. On that note, you may not need ear protection while installing new light fittings for Mr Smith, but you might if you’re on a new build development where there’s still piling going on.
Respiratory Protective Equipment shouldn’t be overlooked. For example, when working in a newly plastered house you’ll be constantly surrounded by dust, which you can safely keep out of your throat, nose and lungs by using respirators and dust masks.
As a further point on comfort, knee pads are important on days when you’re likely to spend a good deal of time kneeling at work, to prevent pain and potential long-term damage.
There’s a huge range of safety clothing and footwear on the market and most manufacturers will include details on their labels, packaging, catalogues and websites that make it easy to see which safety features are included. Plus, with the variety of styles available, it should be easy to find something that matches other items in your workwear wardrobe and that fits the image you’re trying to create.
For more information, please visit www.dickiesworkwear.com