Friday, 28 March 2014

RPE Focus

In hazardous situations poorly fitting PPE can be as ineffective as no protection at all - it may even present it's own risks. A correct fit is particularly important when wearing breathing equipment. Respiratory protection comes in many forms for various environments and hazards, but should always provide a good fit; ensure there is good contact between the skin and the seal of the mask. Take some time, outside of the rush of work, to practice putting on, adjusting and checking the fit of RPE before use. RPE fit testing should be carried out by a competent person who is suitably qualified and experienced. If you are an employer buying for your workplace it is worth buying a range of correct specification RPE and allowing staff to choose the one they feel is most comfortable and the most secure fit for them.

It is also important to ensure that your RPE fits/ interacts well with other head worn PPE. A simple dust mask can be worn easily with a helmet, goggles or ear defenders. Larger breathing apparatus is usually designed to allow for good visibility and leaves room for goggles. Nearly all of our respirators have a narrow adjustable head-strap which leaves room for a helmet or ear defenders.

HSE provide a useful RPE guide which can be downloaded here.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Five Workwear Essentials for Spring

Image: Carhartt Workwear

With the first signs of spring in the air, March is a great time to review your workwear and consider whether your working conditions, or the hazards you face will be changing with the season.
We have compiled a list of five spring essentials - although we cover so many industries it would be impossible to summarise every requirement in five items - so we've gone for a varied range that will hopefully allow us to hit upon some key points of all-round relevance.

1) A light, waterproof hi-visibility jacket. Hi-vis is a crucial item of PPE for anyone working in construction, in warehouses or around lorries and other moving vehicles and highway maintenance to name but a few. If you are working in low light levels or if vehicles are moving in your workspace or you in theirs, it is essential that you can easily be seen. This item also applies to leisurewear; with milder weather on the way you may be feeling more inclined to walk or cycle to work, a hi-vis jacket is the best way to safeguard yourself on these journeys.
A light jacket in a breathable material will help to keep you cool and comfortable, opt for a waterproof though - those April showers are never far away! We recommend the  Dickies SA22042 Hi-Visibility Waterproof Jacket.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because she could, safely, in her hi-vis jacket. 

2) A light coverall offering extra comfort and ease of movement. If you regularly wear coveralls you may have invested in a good, insulated pair for the winter. As the weather becomes warmer you'll be looking for a lighter option to keep you comfortable through the summer. Short sleeves and breathable fabric will keep you cool, coveralls offering built in room for movement will be especially comfortable. The Dickies WD2299 Short Sleeve Coverall is a great warm weather coverall with action back feature and elastication for ease of movement.

3) A Short Sleeve Shirt. This one covers a multitude of sins: Our Pilot Shirts are extremely popular with security firms, ambulance crews etc and the short sleeve option is great for keeping cool in what can be a very active job, as well as being ideal for layering. Office staff can find a great range of smart shirts in our office range and for Chefs we stock short sleeve jackets to help you stay cool in the kitchen; these generally include vented backs to allow for air flow and ensure comfort.

4) A quality pair of Safety Boots or Shoes. You may have been wearing thick, insulated boots for the winter, or heavy wellingtons. With spring on its way this is a great time to look around at what's new on the market. Waterproofing and breathability are still important features and comfort soles or energy absorber heels are handy features if your job is about to get busier in the summer months. If you are working as a gardener or groundskeeper, heavy safety boots may cause problems as they are very hard on lawns - safety trainers are a better solution and have many of the same features you would find in safety boots. Always check that the footwear you are buying is suitable for the conditions and risks in your work environment. You can view our Footwear Guide for more tips.

Click Safety Shoes

5) Polo Shirts. A smart, plain Polo Shirt is always a great workwear staple item, either as a stand alone piece for jobs where no strict uniform is needed or to buy on bulk for your workforce. Look for short sleeve options for summer, they can be easily layered up or down to suit the whims of the weather and many styles are available in cool, breathable fabrics. Our range of polo shirts are suitable for embroidery, allowing you to add names or logos to personalise your garments.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Selecting and Buying Safety Footwear

We stock a great range of safety shoes, trainers, boots and wellies in our online store, but we know that with all this choice it can be hard to know where to start when buying PPE for yourself or your workplace.
Before buying safety footwear (or any PPE) it is a good idea to refer to a recent risk assessment, or if one doesn't already exist this is the ideal opportunity to assess your workplace and/ or working practices. This will give you a solid idea of the existing and potential hazards you need to guard against.
Some points to consider in your risk assessment are:

• Are there slippy surfaces in the workplace?
          If yes, non slip soles will be essential.                                       
Click Safety Boots - a great all rounder

• Is there a risk of impact or crushing to top of foot?
          Metatarsal protectors safeguard the bridge of the foot.

• Is there a risk of objects penetrating the sole?
          Mid-sole protection is required. Composite midsoles provide
          greater coverage.

• Are acids/ alkalis/ chemicals present in the workplace?
          Choose shoes/ boots with acid/ alkali resistant soles. It will help to know the type of chemicals present
          -seek specialist advice.        

• Is there a need for cut protection?
          Chainsaw boots will protect from the cutting power of an active chainsaw.

• Is heel or ankle support required, are staff working on uneven ground?
          Choose a good secure fit, offering plenty of support. Lace up styles will allow workers to customise
          the fit.

• Is there risk of contact with molten metal?
          Foundry boots are specially designed for this hazard. Heat resistance and quick release fastenings are
          important features for this use.
Cofra Bering BIS Cold Store Boot.
• Are there temperature extremes in the workplace?
          For cold store use you will need to select boots with thermal
          insulation that have been tested to the appropriate temperature.
          For high temperatures look for heat resistant soles tested to the
          appropriate temperature, with a breathable fabric.

• Are there biohazard or hygiene risks?
          Easy clean/ machine washable safety shoes with breathable

• Are employees working in wet conditions?
          Safety wellies offer toe cap and midsole protection with water resistance. Some styles are resistant to

Washable Safety Clog.Comfort for long hours of work.

It is important to regularly check PPE for faults or weaknesses which may prevent it working properly. It is also a good idea to periodically review your safety equipment as new developments and products may have become available.

For further advice on selecting and buying footwear you can view the Safety Footwear Buyer's Guide on our website.