Workwear and protective clothing – what do health and safety regulations say?

Workwear and protective clothing – what do health and safety regulations say?
Darrius Drew
It takes approx. 4 minutes to read this article

Workwear replaces clothing. It is worn when there is a risk of contact with hazardous dirt. Protective clothing, on the other hand, as the name suggests, protects selected parts of the body.

Labour code defines in detail differences between types of clothing. Article. 237. § 1. clearly states – “The employer is obliged to provide the employee free of charge with working clothes and shoes that meet the requirements specified in the Polish Standards

1) if the employee’s own clothing may be damaged or significantly soiled

2) due to technological, sanitary or
occupational health
and safety requirements

In some cases, the employer may designate special positions where the use of the employee’s private clothing and shoes is permitted. However, it must meet health and safety requirements. Of course, this does not mean that this exception can be applied to every position. On the contrary. If there is a high risk of clothing and footwear becoming dirty or contaminated, it is imperative that employees are provided with special protective clothing.

The difference between protective clothing and work clothing

In the Labor Code, there is also Article 237. § 1., which reads – “The employer may not allow an employee to work without personal protective equipment and work clothes and shoes, provided for use at the given workstation”. In addition – “The employer is obliged to ensure that the used means of personal protection and work clothes and shoes have protective and usable properties, and ensure that they are properly washed, maintained, repaired, dusted and disinfected.”

  • Protective clothing protects the worker from harmful external influences. Because each workplace is different, individual items of clothing, as well as footwear, may have different characteristics.
  • Protective clothing protects against mechanical damages as well as biological and chemical factors. Moreover, it can protect a worker against electric shock or body exposed to high or low temperature. Protective clothing is also distinguished, preventing the harmful effects of ionizing and electromagnetic radiation.
  • The term work clothing refers only to clothing that replaces the worker’s clothing. In the vast majority of cases, it does not have any protective properties.

Clothing and footwear that do not protect the employee in any way can not be treated as a means of personal protection

Protective footwear – what should you know about it?

An extremely important element of the clothing of each employee is the footwear, which must also be adapted to the working conditions. In various standards footwear categories are marked in a different way, however, the classification is very similar.

  • One of the most important elements of every shoe is the toe cap. Safety footwear should protect the toes from being crushed. Depending on the standard, the shoe must withstand an impact of 100 J or 200 J.
  • Another consideration is the puncture resistance of the sole. When working in harsh conditions, it is not difficult to happen upon pointed elements that can penetrate the foot. Footwear protecting against this type of situation has a specially reinforced sole.
  • Equally important is the increased resistance to oils, organic solvents and gasoline. In addition, many models of safety shoes have anti-electrostatic and waterproof properties.
  • Energy absorption in the back of the shoe is usually accomplished through heel build-up. In this case, the foot is protected from both the front and the back.
  • The last factor is permeability and water absorption.

It is important to remember that even the best protective clothing and footwear are no substitute for caution, conservativeness, and focus while performing your duties. Those working in particularly hazardous conditions must be constantly vigilant. In addition, it is good practice to anticipate hazards, so that the risk of their occurrence significantly reduces.

Main article photo: source: Designed by Freepik

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