Whatever job a person does, they have a right to keep safe and protected from hazards and accidents. Many of the rules surrounding safety at work are now enshrined in legislation and overseen in practice by the Health and Safety Executive.
There are now minimum requirements for certain types of work wear, for example, the British Kite Mark CE, British Standard information number or an International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) designation. It is up to employers or the self-employed to make sure that, not only are they compliant with the law, but that they have the necessary protection. Buying from a reputable supplier that you can trust, such as Engelbert-Strauss is a good place to begin.
The food industry
Work and safety wear was ubiquitous in the food industry. It protects workers against splashes, spills, hot substances, getting clothing snagged in machinery etc. and the public from food contamination during the production process by pathogens brought in on outdoor clothing, on the skin, hair or from foreign bodies such as buttons falling into vats of ingredients. The bottom line is that clothing must be white, or light coloured so that it is easy to see how clean it is, pockets where dust and debris can gather must be avoid and are outlawed altogether in maximum risk areas. Sleeves must be long and the length of the overall must cover the side pockets of trousers. Metal fasteners are preferred, and any logos or badges must be stitched. Gloves, mittens or gauntlets must fit comfortably and afford the correct protection. In some jobs aprons must be worn, sometimes these are made of chain mail, for example a butcher boning out large cuts of meat would wear one to protect against severing their femoral artery.
The construction industry
Unsurprisingly the building industry has a plethora of requirements pertaining to health and safety wear, with each tradesman having their own set of safety standards. A hard hat is a basic requirement for anyone on a building site, including visitors. Hats must comply with EN397, fit properly and fasten with a chin strap. Eye goggles to protect against bright lights, sparks, debris and hazardous substances are another staple These must be appropriate for the job being undertaken and must be able to be deployed comfortably with other safety wear. Workers in other industries, such as chemicals, or metallurgy use googles and full-face masks, sometimes even with a respirator when oxygen in the air is in short-supply or there are noxious fumes about.
Being able to be able to be seen is an important factor in keeping safe. Working outside on the roads is one such example, particularly in Winter or during the darker hours. Perhaps a delivery job requires a driver to get keep getting in and out of his cab, or maybe it is a traffic control officer or a person working for the emergency services who needs that extra visibility. High visibility clothing is graded for reflexibility and conspicuousness, the more dangerous and darker the working environment, the higher the specification of hi-vis wear required and this must meet the standards in BS EN 471.
Protecting the ear
In the past, the effect on the hearing of the noise generated by a person job was often overlooked. Thankfully today we are better aware of the need to protect this precious sense. Where noise regularly exceeds 85 decibels ear protection becomes mandatory. It is also required where the worker is continually exposed to a lower level of noise, such as the constant hum from a machine.
There are two important considerations when it comes to footwear for work. Do the shoes or boots provide the grip you require so that the worker is not susceptible to slipping and will they protect the foot should anything fall or be dropped on it? Steel toe capped shoes and boots do offer both. But this is a specialist area and workers need to ensure that their foot wear fully meets the requirements of their job and offers the right level of protection.
A final word
Employers and employees should find out what the law says about requirements their industry, ensure that they comply, that the clothing or safety wear is used properly and replaced when it becomes damaged or worn. That way, employees keep safe, employers keep out of court and the public are offered some protection.