THE CONTEGO GUIDE TO WORKWEAR CLOTHING
There is a wide range of workwear clothing to cater for various working environments and purposes, from workwear that protects employees against workplace risks to uniforms that give them a professional appearance and convey an organisation’s brand or corporate image.
As an employer, it is important that you provide your employees with workwear clothing that meets the needs of the work they perform. Failure to do so can have significant consequences for your organisation, affecting either the public’s or your customers’ perception of your workforce, damaging the reputation of your organisation, and even contributing to or being the cause of serious accidents, injuries and, at worst, fatalities.
The workwear clothing that you purchase for your employees should be suited to the demands of their working environment, made from quality fabrics and cut in a style to ensure that your staff are safe, comfortable and smart at work day after day. Where necessary or desirable, your employees’ workwear clothing should also be customisable, allowing your organisation’s branding to be added.
This guide is designed to help you source and provide the right workwear clothing for your workforce. It includes an overview of the workwear clothing available, an explanation of the industry standards that govern certain workwear clothing, and information and tips on creating customised company workwear.
THE ROLE OF RISK ASSESSMENTS IN SELECTING WORKWEAR CLOTHING
When you are purchasing workwear clothing for your employees, where applicable, it is recommended that you refer to a recent risk assessment of the workplace environments in which your employees are working. If a risk assessment does not exist, one should be carried out.
Taking this step provides a clear understanding of the risks that the workwear clothing that you choose should protect against. This will allow you to select the appropriate workwear clothing and will ensure that you comply with all the relevant health and safety rules and other industry regulations.
KEY INDUSTRY STANDARDS RELATING TO WORKWEAR CLOTHING
EN 342:2017-CERTIFIED WORKWEAR CLOTHING
EN 342:2017 is the industry standard relating to workwear clothing (ensembles and single garments) that protects against cold.
Workwear clothing that conforms to this standard protects wearers against the effects of cold environments equal to or below 5°C. These effects include low air temperatures, humidity and air velocity.
The protective effects and requirements of footwear, gloves and separate headwear are excluded from the scope of this standard, with specific standards covering those items.
EN 342:2017 CLASSIFICATIONS
There are three classifications of EN 342:2017-certified workwear. These classifications are based on the type of protection provided by the workwear:
Each classification also carries a grading, from 1 to 3, with 3 being the highest level of protection.
The classification should be visible on the EN 342:2017 badge that features on the workwear clothing. For example:
EN 343:2019-CERTIFIED WORKWEAR CLOTHING
EN 343:2019 is the industry standard relating to workwear clothing that protects against wet weather.
Workwear clothing that conforms to this standard is waterproof and breathable, rather than merely water resistant.
EN 343:2019 CLASSIFICATIONS
There are two classifications of EN 343:2019-certified workwear: one relating to water penetration resistance and one relating to breathability.
Each type of protection is graded from 1 to 3, with 3 being the highest level of protection. The grading is as follows
The classification should be visible on the EN 343:2019 badge that features on the workwear clothing. For example:
KEY CONSIDERATIONS WHEN WEARING AND MAINTAINING EN 343:2019 WORKWEAR
To ensure that EN 343:2019-certified workwear provides wearers with the maximum protective performance, the garment should be closed before use.
EN 343:2019-certified workwear should be kept clean (dirt may impede its performance) and stored in a dry and well-ventilated space.
To help ensure maximum protective performance, EN 343:2019-certified workwear should be cared for according to the instructions inside the garment.
AN OVERVIEW OF WORKWEAR CLOTHING
A wide range of men’s, women’s and unisex workwear clothing is available, including corporate workwear (eg. suits, skirts, dresses, trousers), uniforms, practical workwear (eg. coveralls, aprons, chef’s clothing), company outerwear (eg. coats, jackets, fleeces) and company leisurewear, (eg. t-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts), as well as sustainable workwear (ie. workwear made from sustainable materials) and accessories (eg. holdalls, bags, backpacks).
THE IMPORTANCE OF FIT AND COMFORT IN WORKWEAR CLOTHING
The workwear clothing that you choose for your employees should fit well and be comfortable to wear.
Fit and comfort are important, both for safety purposes and for making sure that your employees look and feel professional, which will help them work better and harder, and present an image that reflects well on your business.
Therefore, the company workwear clothing that you choose should be available in a wide range of sizes.
WORKWEAR CLOTHING MEASUREMENTS
Manufacturers allow for room for movement when designing workwear clothing. When choosing workwear clothing, it is recommended that you refer to a workwear size guide.
The following are tips for taking chest, waist and inside leg measurements for company workwear:
- When taking chest measurements, place the measuring tape close up under the arms and measure around the fullest part of the chest
- When taking waist measurements, measure around the natural waistline
- When taking inside leg measurements, measure from the crotch to where the trouser is normally worn on the shoe
MAINTAINING AND REPLACING WORKWEAR CLOTHING
It is important that company workwear clothing is maintained properly.
If not maintained properly, practical workwear clothing that protects employees against workplace hazards may not comply with the relevant industry standard(s).
For corporate workwear clothing and practical workwear, proper maintenance is key to ensuring that employees present a professional image of themselves and your business.
It is therefore recommended that each worker is provided with at least two pieces of each type of clothing, as this approach will help.to prolong the life of workwear clothing.
EMBROIDERED WORKWEAR AND PRINTED WORKWEAR
Many businesses choose to customise their workwear clothing, with either embroidered branding or printed branding, which helps create a professional image for companies.
WHEN SELECTING WORKWEAR, THINK BRAND
EMBROIDERED OR PRINTED: WHICH IS BEST FOR YOUR WORKWEAR BRANDING?
For example, embroidered branding is not recommended for company outerwear as this process may compromise the waterproof integrity of the garment. Therefore, for company outerwear and other waterproof workwear clothing, including hi-vis workwear, it is recommended that you choose printed branding, such as Heatseal.
Embroidered workwear branding is the premium option in terms of the finish, producing a highly professional appearance. Embroidery is also designed to last the lifetime of the garment and is therefore recommended for workwear that will be washed frequently and/or needs to be washed at high temperatures. Printed branding would not survive such treatment or conditions, and would need to be replaced more often.
Printed workwear is though the more-cost effective option for workwear branding, particularly if the design is large, and is also a good choice for complex designs. Additionally, when placing an order for printed workwear, you can buy printed branding in large volumes at a bulk price and then have it applied to your workwear clothing in small quantities as and when required. This also ensures there is no additional delay in waiting for the logos to arrive, ensuring your order can be branded and despatched in the quickest time possible. And, unlike embroidered branding, where you are limited to the number of colours the embroidery machine is capable of stitching (usually up to 15 colours), digital printers can accommodate any number of colours.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE APPROPRIATE WORKWEAR CLOTHING FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES
The information contained in this guide to workwear clothing is designed to help you choose the right workwear clothing when placing an order for your workforce.
Different jobs and working environments require different workwear clothing and it is important that your employees are provided with the appropriate workwear clothing, whether it is corporate workwear, practical workwear, company outerwear or company leisurewear.
If you are buying workwear clothing that needs to protect your employees against workplace risks, you should always base your choice of workwear clothing on the most severe hazard that your employees will face.
By using this information and taking these steps, you will ensure that your employees can do their jobs safely, comfortably and to the highest standard, and that your company is presented professionally and is fully compliant with all the relevant industry standards.
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