Workwear as a whole doesn’t need to have a protective quality other than to be durable and protect the wearer from day to day work based activities. However you can get Workwear which has a specific protection quality such as work trousers, these tend to be more durable to reduce hazards such as sharp objects from the cutting the skin.
Whereas other products such as flame resistant t-shirts are commonly mistaken as Workwear, however, are actually classed as PPE, as these products are designed to protect the wearer from more than daily use. All items of PPE are regulated by EN ISO ratings such as EN20471 / EN471 for high visibility.
Workwear shirts are made from high quality materials which are intended to last longer against the wear and tear of the working environment. Usually made from materials such as cotton, polyester and specialty fabrics. The specialty fabric tends to place the Workwear shirt into the PPE category as these will have special protective properties.
Workwear offers the wearer a standard level of protection which would not be covered under Health and Safety EN regulations. Whereas PPE is the types of products which are covered under these EN regulations, regulations such as EN471 / EN20471 are for high visibility clothing. Products which are covered under the EN471 / EN20471 regulations tend to be made of a specially designed reflective material, these can be all manner of items from work trousers to gloves.
Most uniforms consist of a range of items from boots to t-shirts. Starting at the feet, many companies require their employees to wear some form of protective footwear depending on the environment, steel or composite toe cap boots/shoes are usually worn. Next would be a pair of work trousers, shorts or a skirt, with anything from a formal shirt to a t-shirt for the upper body. Although each workplace is different the overall uniform design is relatively the same, excluding PPE based items such as hard hats, safety footwear and gloves, these items really depend on the environment.
Uniforms do not need to be provided by the employer, however, items that are considered PPE must be provided at no cost to the employee. This can be found in Section 9 of Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, "No employer shall levy or permit to be levied on any employee of his any charge in respect of anything done or provided in pursuance of any specific requirement of the relevant statutory provisions". – Source HSE.
Workwear covers a broad range of clothing from trousers to t-shirts, however, the standard provides qualities you will find with Workwear are as followed. Durability from high quality materials, this also helps with longevity, ensuring this product last throughout the years. Other qualities usually come down to the thickness of the materials and their resistance from wear and tear, especially along the seams.
Some qualities such as flame resistance, chemical resistance, high visibility and much more can be found on many items of Workwear. However, these will be classed under PPE as they are rated under health and safety EN ratings.
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PPE includes anything someone can use or wear to mitigate the threats that workplace hazards pose to health and safety.
Depending on the tasks and environment, workers use PPE such as:
Helmets, hardhats and facial protection
The nature and purpose of these equipment pieces vary between jobs and worksites. For example, workers in the oil and gas industry need gloves that protect against crushing and pinching. On the other hand, glass-handling gloves help the wearer properly grip glass to prevent cuts and strains.
Employers typically use PPE as a final measure to protect employees against apparent dangers, whereas hazard-control techniques – such as substituting faulty equipment – are a first-line of defense.
The answer to this question depends on where you work. Country to country and region to region, it can greatly vary.
In Canada, for example, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations state that employers must provide PPE to each employee who needs it. But this does not explicitly mean the employer must purchase equipment for each worker.
Furthermore, the regulations do not clarify which pieces of equipment employers must provide. Many construction and factory workers buy their own hardhats and steel toe boots. Equipment that’s not as widely sold is typically given to them.
So, who pays for PPE can depend on equipment-by-equipment and workplace-by-workplace bases.
Generally, this is not an issue you should face.
In the aforementioned Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, many employers interpret the rule to provide PPE as a requirement to purchase it for workers.
If this is not the case and you cannot afford to buy a certain piece of PPE, discuss the issue with your boss.
In the United States, OSHA mandates that employers must pay for all PPE. This rule has been in effect since 2008, also requiring that employers make sure that any employee-purchased PPE provides adequate protection.
Employees must use PPE as outlined in their workplaces’ guidelines, which should largely follow government protocol.
In this respect, employers should mandate the use of the PPE as a:
Last Resort: There are no other control measures to mitigate risks
Back-up Measure: PPE supplements other, more-effective control measures
Temporary Policy: An effective control measure is currently being implemented
Most work environments mandate the use of PPE as a back-up measure, protecting employees from danger if other defense mechanisms fail.
However, speak to your employer if you feel the PPE you are required to use is not effective in this sense.