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Why protective workwear should feature in your risk assessment

Monday, 3 October 2016  |  Geoff

Workwear isn't just there to emblazon your brand on and offer staff something to wear to work, it can also protect the health and safety of your employees and sometimes even the public. When we talk about workwear which protects health and safety such as helmets, gloves, high vis clothing and boots, we sometimes call it PPE, or personal protective equipment.

The best time to formulate what workwear you need to buy is when you draw up your risk assessment, which should form part of your overall health and safety monitoring.

What is a risk assessment?
A risk assessment needs to be carried out for all activities at your work premises. This is both ongoing activities and ad-hoc ones. A risk assessment is where you will assess what potential dangers to health and safety are posed by certain activities, from the environment staff are working within, the machinery/technology they are using and anything else that may cause a threat such as chemicals.

Thinking about protective workwear
In every risk assessment you do, entitle one section 'Workwear Assessment'. In this section, consider what sort of PPE you need to provide. Think about whether hi vis jackets or clothing are appropriate, for the safety of employees and others. Think about whether helmets, hard shoes or gloves are required. What may be relevant for one activity may be completely different for another, which is why multiple risk assessments may be necessary.

It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that the correct PPE is available to staff, so not only does including this as part of your risk assessment protect your staff, but it also protects you against not adhering to health and safety legislation. Make sure the risk assessments can be easily accessed by staff and are well known to both staff and management.

Assessing your protective workwear needs through a risk assessment is the best way to ensure you've considered everything you need to protect your staff.

It also gives you a framework to do further assessments for protective workwear in the workplace.

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