An A to Z Guide to PPE and Protective Clothing

An A to Z Guide to PPE and Protective Clothing

We love the PPE and safety clothing industry and, having been part of it for over 20 years, it’s safe to say we know it well.

The crucial role that protective clothing and equipment play in keeping workers safe means that there are standards and guidelines covering its provision and use, prescribed by various authorities, such as British Standards, the European Union and the Health and Safety Executive.

And where there are standards, guidelines and governing bodies, there will always be a plethora of abbreviations, industry jargon and terminology.

So, here’s a handy A to Z guide to some of the common words, phrases and abbreviations that can be found in the field of protective clothing and PPE.

Our A-Z Guide to PPE and safety clothing

A is for air cushion sole, which offers added comfort when you’re on your feet for long periods of time. It can be found in a variety of safety shoes that Contego provides, such as the Dr Marten Leather Shoe or Air Wear Gibson Shoe, where the innersole moulds to the contours of the foot. A also stands for anti-static. Footwear and clothing with anti-static properties minimises electrostatic build-up and discharges it effectively, reducing the risk of sparks igniting flammable substances or vapours.

B is for Breathability – when it comes to clothing and footwear, the most effective fabrics are breathable, allowing body moisture and vapours to be released, reducing the chances of overheating or improving comfort.

C is for Chainsaw protection – there are two types for workers, depending on their roles and what it’s needed for. Type A Chainsaw protective trousers have front-only protection, while Type C Chainsaw protective trousers feature all-round protection, essential for tree climbers.

D is for Double Density. The DD Polyurethane footwear method uses direct injection moulding to give a very strong construction. It includes soft inner cushioning for reduced muscle fatigue with a tough outer layer to give good slip resistance and wear characteristics. DD Rubber is a robust construction method using the same principles but with the added benefits of rubber. An excellent example is at our Utility Derby Safety Boot.

E is for EN number, the European standards maintained by CEN (European Committee for Standardization). E also stands for ESD (Electro Static Discharge) the highest standard for static discharge in safety footwear. Designed to protect electronic components from static electricity damage.

F is for Fire or Flame Retardant, also abbreviated to FR. This includes clothing to protect people working in potentially hazardous conditions which involve exposure to heat and flame. F also stands for First Aid Kits, which should be fit-for-purpose in the workplace.

G is for GO/RT 3279, the minimum standard that the mandatory high visibility clothing for those working on rail tracks or lineside must meet. An example of clothing which meets the GO/RT standard is this High Visibility railtrack jacket. This standard is being slowly replaced by RIS-3279-TOM.

H stands for High Visibility safety clothing, also abbreviated to Hi Vis and HV. High visibility clothing enables workers to be seen, whatever the conditions.

I is for eye protection…(excuse the pun)! At Contego we provide a full range of PPE and safety workwear to protect workers from head injury or harm to their eyesight. I is also for ISO (International Organization for Standardization), the global body that oversees world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency.

J is for Jackets – fleece, softshell, insulated, padded, waterproof, showerproof, base layer or bodywarmer, make sure you have the right jacket or combination of layers for the job and/or the conditions.

K is for Kitchen workers – we provide a whole range of workwear and uniforms for chefs and others working in the food handling industry. K also stands for the abbreviation KN, which is the standard that safety glasses should meet, indicating high levels of anti-scratch and anti-mist qualities.

L is for Leisurewear – take a look at our range of leisurewear for people who require an element of safety while they’re out and about. L also stands for Lateral Deformation, a standard used in measuring side impact protection on safety helmets.

M is for Metatarsal Protection – a feature of some of our safety boots, reducing the risk of an injury to the foot that can be caused by sudden impact. It’s also for Molten Metal, a standard for protection from molten metal on safety helmets.

N is for Nitrile Rubber, which gives safety gloves a robust and tough construction that will reliably protect the wearer’s hands from injury. With improved wear and slip resistance, it’s able to withstand temperatures up to 300°c on footwear soles and has good resistance to chemical hazards.

O is for Outerwear – garments that protect the wearer in cold conditions. This kind of safety clothing conforms to the standard EN342 – Garments for Protection Against Cold. It specifies certain test methods and demands on performance of clothing which is intended to protect against cold.

P is for Protection, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Protective Clothing, of course!

R is for Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE), including facemasks, visor kits and filters that provide protection from harmful particles and an assortment of organic, inorganic, acid and ammonia gases and vapours.

S is for Safety – safety boots and safety shoes, safety helmets and site safety.

T is for Thermal Protection System (TPS) – here you might find abbreviations such as ATPV (Arc Thermal Protective Value), which is the unit for measuring heat transfer from an electric arc.

U is for Ultra Violet (UV) Protection and protecting those who are exposed to it from the risk of skin cancer. Sunlight is the main source, but UV rays can also be present in workplace environments for other reasons. We offer a range of safety equipment which can protect against the harmful effects.

V is for vibration. Parts of the body, such as our hands, are incredibly valuable tools and must be properly protected. Hand protection is necessary in a wide variety of environments, including those where there are high levels of vibration which can cause injury or damage, including Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Our vibration measurement system and anti-vibration gloves are designed to help identify the problem and reduce the risks.

W is for Water resistance (WR) – a feature of waterproof footwear offering year-round protection from water penetration and vapour. Wet weather outwear is measured with EN343, the standard for waterproofness and breathability of clothing.

X is for eXcellence – because, when it comes to health and safety in the workplace, there is no compromise. That is why at Contego we pride ourselves on the highest quality PPE and safety workwear which complies with all necessary safety standards.

Y is for Why you need to know about health and safety. By UK law, all workers are entitled to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled and the primary responsibility for this is down to employers. Employers have a duty to consult with their employees, or their representatives, on health and safety matters, to assess risks in the workplace and do all that is reasonably practical to remove them. Y also stands for You – the person most responsible for your health and safety.

Z is for Zero tolerance to anything but the best. Contego customers know that they will receive our full attention – without compromise. We identify our customers’ needs using our knowledgeable and efficient resources to provide the highest standards in PPE, protective clothing and safety equipment.

But what, you may ask, happened to Q? Well, we thought we’d leave it to the end to let you know that if you have any questions about PPE and Protective Clothing, our expert team are always on hand to offer advice and guidance on the best PPE or safety clothing to suit your needs and your budget. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323, email or visit our website

Published on 23 January 2018


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