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What do I need to know about PPE and Protective Clothing?

Frequently asked questions about PPE and protective clothing

At Contego we pride ourselves not only on being a leading workwear and safety equipment supplier, but on being able to provide expert PPE advice and support to our customers whenever they need it.

Over the years we’ve answered countless and diverse questions about PPE, protective clothing and work clothes and there are some that come up time and again. So we thought we’d put together this handy guide, featuring the most frequently asked questions that customers have about protective clothing and safety equipment suppliers.

Our frequently asked questions

What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is equipment designed to protect the user against health or safety risks at work and reduce the risk of injury or loss of life. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, hearing protection, fire retardant clothing, hi vis clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses, as well as specialist items such as respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

When should I use Personal Protective Equipment?

Personal Protective Equipment should be used whenever there is a risk to health and safety at work. However, PPE is the last port of call. If a task requires protection, you should first look at ways to eliminate or reduce the risk, by carrying out a risk assessment and then taking any necessary measures. For example:

  • Can the task be reasonably mechanised, therefore not endangering workers?
  • Could you improve ventilation to reduce respiratory risks?
  • Could improvements to machinery or method planning reduce noise?
  • Can you put in place machinery guards or method planning to reduce debris, or water suppression, if appropriate, to reduce dust?
  • Is it possible to eliminate the need for people to be working above one another to reduce risk of falling objects?
  • Can chemicals be handled differently to reduce exposure?

If the risk cannot be removed, this is when the right kind of Personal Protective Equipment should be considered.

When do employers have to supply PPE?

The first step to answering this question is for a trained professional to carry out a risk assessment. After identifying any hazards, employers should provide appropriate PPE and training in its usage to employees wherever there is a risk to health and safety that cannot be removed or adequately controlled by other means.

Measures to make the workplace safe include the provision of instructions, procedures, health and safety training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly.

Failure to practice due diligence, with regards to health and safety in the workplace, can result in serious penalties being imposed, such as a heavy fine, criminal prosecution or a personal injury lawsuit. Remember, in the case of health and safety law, a charged person has to be able to prove their innocence to avoid being charged.

Are uniforms classed as PPE?

This depends on the type of uniform and role being undertaken. Some safety uniforms and workwear, such as branded hi vis clothing, can be classed as uniform, while certain workplaces, for example, where head protection is needed, might make use of different hard hat colours to mark out varying roles. A usual tip is that by adding your company logo to any clothing you provide to your workers you can avoid it being classified as a taxable perk.

How do I take care of my PPE?

The way to get the most out of your protective clothing and equipment is to ensure it is kept in good condition, regularly cleaned, maintained and stored correctly.

It should also be examined at each use by a competent person, who may be the user themselves, their line manager or the person issuing PPE.

Are safety helmets compulsory? Do I have to wear safety footwear?

These are just two examples of the questions we are asked about specific safety clothing and equipment. The answer would be dependent on the environment you are working in and rules which are in place. A risk assessment should be, or have been, carried out by a competent person to identify the hazards and the correct PPE will be identified following this.

How can I ensure PPE is worn?

Ways to do this can include the following:

  • By making it a site rule
  • Always wearing your PPE to set an example
  • Checking others are wearing theirs
  • Put in place appropriate penalties for when the rules are ignored.

What PPE do I need?

Your risk assessment will identify which PPE and protective clothing your employees require but discussing your requirements with a specialist supplier will ensure you get exactly what is needed. Sourcing the right protection is crucial and a reputable supplier with expert knowledge will help you source the correct combination of items, that fit both your requirements and your budget.

Contego Safety Solutions stocks a wide range of corporate workwear, protective clothing and PPE, including our WEARMASTER® range. We also provide a bespoke uniform design and manufacturing service to ensure that you get precisely what you are looking for in a company uniform.

The friendly and expert team at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or sales@contegosafety.co.uk to discuss your requirements.