Health and safety practices in the workplace start with the clothing workers wear — and its quality.
Employers' most basic responsibility is to take care of those who work for them, and under a number of UK laws, companies are bound to ensure that workplaces are clean, safe and healthy spaces to work in. They must protect their workers' health and safety "as far as is reasonably possible", but it doesn't always work out like that because accidents still happen in the workplace.
Although figures for fatal and non-fatal accidents at work in the UK have been on a downward trend for many years, people are still being injured on the job, and some are tragically losing their lives.
A total of 111 people were killed at work from 2019 to 2020, as shown by the most recent set of figures available from the Health and Safety Executive, with the construction industry making up most deaths (40), followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing (20) and manufacturing (15). Other sectors that reported deadly accidents include transport, the retail and motor industries, and waste and support services.
For the same period, workers across the UK reported almost 700 thousand non-fatal accidents while in the workplace — with slips, trips and falls making up most incidents, followed by lifting or carrying heavy items, being struck by an object, violent acts and falls from a height.
Quality Workwear for Basic Workplace Protection
Clearly, there's a way to go with health and safety practices in the workplace, including from such other common hazards as electricity, repetitive strain injury, fires and explosions, exposure to toxic materials and substances, and loud noises. They start with the clothing workers are provided with and its quality.
Whether it's coveralls, high-vis jackets, nitrile gloves or anything else, the items must be suited to the task, durable and of the highest quality so that they adequately protect the worker. They must also fit workers properly, or items of protective clothing might be a cause of accidents themselves — such as if loose and baggy clothing gets caught in machinery and a worker can't free themselves and becomes injured.
Equally, in workplace environments where there are direct hazards, such as high temperatures, noise and chemicals — is workers' clothing up to the task of protecting them from extreme heat, loud noise that could damage their hearing, and the real risk of contact with toxic chemicals and spills?
Carrying Out an Audit of Environment and Workwear
Appraising health and safety practices in the workplace involves looking at many elements, including what people do, the kinds of machinery and substances being used and whether there are risks such as working from heights that might lead to falls — which along with slips and trips are the most common accidents, as we've outlined, and lead to most compensation claims from workers.
Carrying out an audit of health and safety practices in the workplace should encompass the kinds of workwear that staff are using and what the quality is like. What kind of materials are used? How good is the stitching (is it liable to fray)? How secure are the zips, buttons and fasteners? And do workwear garments fit staff, both male and female, including if they're specially tailored for the female form?
You can then have a conversation with workwear suppliers about all these essential elements in quality workwear that not only looks good but also protects employees from harm. If your current workwear supplier is not up to the task, you have frequent complaints from staff about their workwear and often have to replace items because they quickly fall apart, perhaps it's time for change — for the good of everyone.
Order quality workwear for your staff from one of the leading workwear suppliers in the UK, WISE Workwear, and ensure you take care of your workers’ health and safety. Contact us now to find out more