Protective clothing and safety equipment should always comply with the relevant safety standards which are in place to ensure they are 100% fit-for-purpose. But once you’ve purchased the right equipment, how do you ensure your PPE and protective clothing will continue to keep you safe for years to come?
To keep safety clothing and equipment within government safety guidelines, it should always be in good condition, regularly cleaned, maintained and stored correctly. It should also be examined at every use by a competent person who knows the safety standards required.
PPE and protective clothing that is allowed to fall into disrepair or become dirty is a lot less likely to keep you safe. The first rule of thumb when washing safety clothing is to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, which should feature on the garment label.
This will provide vital information on cleaning the item in question while maintaining its protective qualities, such as the temperature to wash it at and, with regard to items such as hi-vis clothing, how many times it can be washed before it is no longer compliant.
The number of washes that high visibility clothing can undergo is limited because over time the high visibility colour will fade and it will no longer conform to the EN20471 standard or ensure that the wearer can be easily seen. Therefore it is advisable to wash only when necessary. Should the garment become soiled and not able to be cleaned it will compromise safety, not conform and will need to be discarded.
PPE always works best when it’s clean, as this reduces exposure to safety risks such as obscured vision. To keep it at its best, most equipment can be cleaned using warm, soapy water that you are sure has not been contaminated with anything. Some pieces of kit may require specific care and attention:
- The inside of a respiratory mask must not be allowed to become contaminated by any hazardous substances or debris
- Safety helmets should always be stored in a cool place away from natural sunlight, to avoid degradation, which reduces their strength and efficiency
- Safety glasses should be stored in a pouch to protect the lenses from damage
- Wet safety boots should be dried slowly to prevent leather deterioration. A good idea is to have two pairs, so as to allow a wet pair to fully dry out before you wear them again
Once your safety clothing no longer complies with the necessary health and safety requirements, then it is time to replace it. But don’t just throw it away – consider donating clothes and textiles that are in good condition. At Contego we dispose of any old or worn garments by donating them to charities, which can then sell them for re-use or recycling for padding for chairs and car seats, cleaning cloths and industrial blankets.
Regular care and attention to your PPE and protective clothing will ensure not only that it is clean and comfortable to wear but, perhaps more importantly, that it will continue to keep you safe.
Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on cleaning and maintenance.
You can also speak to the friendly and knowledgeable team at Contego for advice about the PPE and protective clothing your team require. Contact us on 0800 122 3323, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.contegosafety.co.uk. To discover Contego’s extensive range of high visibility clothing and PPE – download the Contego Catalogue now.