Workplace safety gear and personal protective equipment (PPE) has been progressively introduced during the past couple of decades. Appropriate work gear minimises risks and keeps people safer on the job, with innovative technology and science playing a major role. However, serious workplace accidents continue to be reported in the news on an almost daily basis, and a ‘heads-up’ is needed from time to time, so here is everything you should know about workplace safety gear.
This article has been sponsored by RSEA.
Why wear safety gear?
Safety gear is encouraged in any workplace, and PPE needs to meet science-based standards for achieving the desired levels of protection. Form and function both play a role in safety gear that promotes company brand image.
Different uniforms are required depending on a person’s workplace role. Corporate wear is neat and stylish, while PPE is clothing or equipment designed to protect workers from physical hazards. Cut, style, materials and everyday functions should all be considered.
Workplace tasks, the workplace environment, and workplace hazards will dictate choices, such as non-slip shoes for the factory floor, protective work boots suitable for the construction industry, or specialist PPE that meets industry standards.
Intelligent design, durable fabrics, functional fit and comfort are all prioritised by professional workwear manufacturers.
The hazards in a workplace determine personal protection options. A hazard assessment of the worksite can be undertaken to identify any specialized PPE gear required. There are also various types of PPE and safety gear that can be made available on any worksite.
Work that involves proximity to airborne particles, hazardous substances, or optical radiation, such as welding or solar radiation, can put eyes at risk. Workers need to wear appropriate eyewear such as a face shield, safety glasses, welding helmet, or gas-resistant goggles. Always choose eyewear that complies with Australian standards.
Hearing loss caused by industrial noise is preventable, yet remains a common workplace injury. Even ambient sound can permanently damage hearing if noise levels are high and exposure is prolonged. Hearing damage builds up gradually, going unnoticed until it's too late, and once it occurs, there's no cure. Hearing protection includes ear muffs, disposable earplugs, and reusable earplugs.
There is a wide range of gloves for providing hand protection in the workplace. Industry-specific PPE gloves are used for chemical resistance, temperature resistance, mechanical safety, and welding. Disposable gloves also have a variety of functions for health and safety, while leather, synthetic, and cotton gloves are all part of the workplace equation.
Pants and tops
When health and wellbeing is a workplace priority, you can never be safe enough. All clothing items can be enhanced for workplace safety and performance, including shirts, jumpers, jackets, reflective vests and hats. Special safety suits are required in some occupations, as are accessories such as knee pads, harnesses, helmets and more.
A well-fitted work boot can be the difference between job satisfaction and ongoing pain. A safety work boot will protect the foot against compression and impact.
When purchasing new work boots, take out the removable insole and stand on it. There should be ‘thumbnail’ length wriggle room between your longest toe and the end of the insole.
Comfortable movement is required in the forefoot. You can try a composite toecap as an alternative to steel cap, or experiment with a half size up for additional volume in the upper.
Make sure the shoe flexes where your foot flexes. An uncomfortable work boot is a dangerous distraction when focus on the work at hand is paramount.
Try the work boots on with the work socks you wear before making a purchase. Ensure the boots have an all-round comfortable fit.
High Visibility Clothing
Construction workers, road workers and other outdoor workers all appreciate Hi-Vis workwear designed to keep themselves and others safe. Hi-Vis workwear is fluorescent and often includes reflective perforated tape that will glow even in dark and cloudy environments.
Safety workwear is encouraged by all responsible employers, and PPE is an essential feature of many occupations. Government and private employers are on board with workplace safety gear, often footing the bill for PPE and uniforms for their staff, and establishing partnerships with industry approved workwear specialists who understand safety.