How to Choose Safety Workwear and Shoes
There are various factors to consider when looking at health and safety gear. For people working onsite or in a physically demanding environment, taking care of yourself and your team is very important. Safety is a major concern, especially when working with weighty machinery, using power tools and cutting heavy-duty materials.
Rory from Premier Handyman tells us why choosing safety workwear is crucial for his team
“At Premier Handyman, the work we undertake varies everyday, from laying flooring to replacing taps to hanging pictures. The correct safety workwear is essential to ensure a safe work environment for myself and my employees. We use safety workwear on a daily basis, from safety glasses, shoes and ear plugs to high visibility jackets, knee-pads and respirators, thus why we like to choose a brand which provides quality along with durability.”
Choosing safety clothing and equipment is a three-stage process:
- Assess the risks associated with the job
- Evaluate those risks in detail. i.e. ask yourself what are the potential dangers? How serious are the consequences?
- Implement measures to reduce the identified risks
After completing a risk assessment of the environment, you’ll need to decide which safety clothing and equipment is required. For choosing the most effective workwear and footwear, you’ll need to understand what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is.
What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
Simply put, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is apparatus that protects you against health and safety hazards at work. It includes items such as safety helmets, eye protection, ear defenders, gloves, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It’s essential for ensuring a safe work environment, and protects you and your team from risks, such as implications to:
- The body, e.g. from fluctuating temperatures
- The hands and feet, e.g. from falling materials
- The skin, e.g. from encountering hazardous materials
- The eyes, e.g. from shards of material and corrosive liquids
- The lungs, e.g. from breathing in pollutants
Choosing the right protective gear and equipment can be a challenge. Whether you’re looking to buy workwear for your business or yourself, the best place to start is by selecting the best PPE according to the job. Be sure to choose the equipment carefully and train employees to use it correctly.
When selecting PPE, consider the following:
- Choose items that are PPE compliant
- Select equipment that suits the users – consider the size, weight and purpose of the PPE
- Make sure different PPE items work when utilised together, e.g. safety glasses and a respirator
- Ensure that PPE is used correctly – this may require training
Vikkie from The Carpenter’s Daughter shared why she thinks it’s important to use PPE, even for DIY projects:
“On every DIY project I tackle and share, I always weigh up the risks and wear appropriate safety work-wear so that I lead by example. A couple of years ago when I also used YouTube to learn how to tile my own kitchen, I hadn’t seen anyone wearing gloves, so I didn’t either. Being new to tiling, little did I know that grout has cement in it and I’d slightly burnt a couple of my fingertips, which were very painful where they were placed.
I now make sure I read all substance warning labels and take them seriously. But generally, I find myself wearing my respirator, goggles, gloves and knee pads more than anything else. I also like to make sure I keep my arms and legs covered for extra protection and think my Dickies overalls are perfect for this.”
How to Care For & Maintain PPE
For hard hats / helmets:
- Regularly clean your hard hat using warm water and soap, and allow it to air dry
- Be sure to replace the helmet if it’s cracked, dented or has taken a heavy knock
For eye protection:
- Clean eyewear with mild soap and water. Store goggles in a clean dust-proof case to avoid scratches and damage
- Replace safety glasses if they’ve been bent, cracked or impair vision
For hearing protection:
- Clean earmuffs with a damp cloth after use, store in a safe area, and replace padding when they lose resilience
For respiratory protection:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning respirators
- Asses the condition of the respirator – look for holes, cracks, deteriorations and anything else that may interfere with efficiency
- Safety store respirator to protect it from dust, chemicals, moisture, and extreme weather conditions
From construction workers and electricians to mechanics and gardeners, safety in the workplace is vital. Whether you’re on a construction site or doing general maintenance in your garden, consider using the following safety workwear:
- Helmets to protect your head from injuries
- Safeguard your eyes with suitable eye protection
- Use appropriate earmuffs or earplugs if you work with or near noisy machinery
- Gloves are essential for protecting your hands against injury
Workwear for construction workers & electricians:
- Head protection: use a hard hat to protect your head from falling objects or a bump to the head
- Eye and face protection: use safety glasses to protect your eyes from foreign objects getting into the eyes when cutting, grinding, welding or nailing
- Foot protection: wear safety work shoes or boots to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls that can cause severe injuries
- Hand protection: wear the correct safety gloves for each job and ensure they fit snugly
- Coveralls: wear an overall on top of the usual shirt and trouser combination to protect your body and clothing from fluids and grease
- Work jackets: they are typically waist-length and used to keep mechanics warm
- Work trousers: like the button-down shirts that make up a traditional mechanic’s uniform, trousers are available in various styles, including dress and jeans. Trousers are usually closed via a front zipper
- Shirts: wear a long, short or button-down shirt, made from a breathable material such as cotton and synthetic fibres
- Gloves: mechanic’s gloves aren’t too thick and feature rubber grips on the palm, allowing technicians to safely hold their tools safely while working
- Gloves: gardeners are constantly using their hands, so use durable gloves to protect your hands from cuts and abrasions, as well as extreme weather
- Trousers: choose a tough pair of utility trousers, featuring pockets and loops that gardeners need to hang their tools on. Buy a pair with knee panels to provide protection when on weeding duties
- Work jacket: select a body warmer or gilet to protect your mid-section, while giving the arms complete freedom to move
- Wellingtons: perfect for walking on muddy pathways and enjoying impromptu excursions into the great outdoors. They are easy to clean and provide lower leg protection from bushes and thorns
- Knee pads: great for jobs that require you to kneel, as they prevent sticks and stones from digging into your skin
The required safety workwear and accessories will differ between trades, so make sure the type of PPE you use is adequate for the job in hand. Although PPE is created to keep your team safe and protected at work, it’s good to consult with them about which items of clothing they feel will help them move and be comfortable in, as they may have a different perspective about requirements.
Safety workwear for all weather
The British climate can be unpredictable, so before commencing with a project consider the time of year and what weather to expect throughout the duration. For example: a project happening during the summer, you can expect warmer, hotter weather than in the spring and autumn when rain is more likely. In wintertime, temperatures drop significantly, and the early darkness can cause low visibility, which will all need to be considered.
For dry and hot weather:
- For summer safety gear, consider our hard-wearing work shorts and t-shirts, with added breathability for keeping cool and comfortable whilst working
- Explore our protective lightweight jackets, as an excellent outer layer in spring or early autumn during mild conditions
For wet and cold weather:
- It’s a good idea to explore our dependable hi-vis safety workwear and clothing, such as jackets, trousers, vests, and more for maximum protection
- For the best clothes for working outside in winter, start with our range of functional thermals, designed to wick sweat away from your body and keep you dry and comfortable
- Expect rain sporadically throughout the year, so buy waterproof essentials like our quality work trousers, jackets and suits
- Continue to layer-up with our superior comfort fleece tops and thick work coats and jackets, which are available with extra padding
Types of safety shoes
As a minimum safety standard, all safety footwear should have an impenetrable sole, uppers with a steel toe-cap, and conform to EN ISO 20345. Safety footwear are available in the following styles:
- Light, low-cut leather safety shoes for jobs that involve climbing
- Regular safety boots for heavy duty work
- High-performance rubber safety wellingtons for protection against harsh substances, chemicals and fluids
- Composite safety shoes and boots that are similar to steel toe cap boots but are made out composite material
- Metatarsal safety shoes that are similar to composite and steel toe shoes but also include a protective plate that covers the metatarsal part of the foot. They offer protection to the upper area of the foot between the bottom of the shin and toes
When considering safety footwear, there are six protection ratings that are applied. Here’s what they mean:
|SB||Safety basic – toe protection|
|S1||Antistatic, energy absorption & oil-resistant|
|S2||Prevents water penetration|
|S3||Midsole penetration resistance|
|S5||Leak-proof with midsole penetration resistance|
- ESD safety shoes: ESD stands for electrostatic discharge. These shoes protect the wearer from static charge items, decreasing risk and increasing safety.
The type of safety shoes or boots that should be used depends on the nature of the work, how often you’ll be wearing them and for how long. Consider the following safety shoes and boots for different trades:
- For construction workers: choose a durable safety work boot to protect your feet when moving heavy materials and other risks located on-site
- For mechanics: durable, oil and slip resistant work boots with a sturdy sole are best for garage environments
- For electricians: safety boots with a composite toe are the best work boots for electricians
- For gardeners: steel toe-cap safety wellingtons are a great option for garden work
And if like John, you have a passion for woodturning, then you should check out his video below where he explains how to prepare your own blanks and the importance of safety workwear when using a chain sword. John is wearing Dickies Eisenhower multi-pocket trousers, Dickies Safety Helmet Kit and Dickies Liberty Safety.
Choosing the right workwear doesn’t have to be complicated, as long as you focus on protecting yourself and your workers from potential dangers in the workplace. Provide employees with equipment for additional protection, understand that the weather will affect how you should dress, and make sure you buy durable safety workwear from a reputable, authentic brand like Dickies.