What Exactly Is Safety Workwear And Why Do You Need It?

There are key safety considerations that businesses need to be aware of when making decisions around appropriate garments and equipment for their employees in order to keep them safe and protected at all times. Protective workwear in the workplace refers to garments, helmets and goggles. They are designed to protect a worker from airborne matter, chemicals, electrical, heat and biohazards. They are worn for health purposes and job-related occupational safety.


Protective workwear is paramount in the workplace, it provides safety and reduces a workers exposure to hazards, when administrative and engineering controls cannot reduce the risks to acceptable levels. The practice of using protective workwear has a hierarchy of control that provides a framework that ranks the type of hazard for risk reduction. The type of hazard, area of body protected and type of accessory or garment categorise protective workwear.


Lung & Skin Protection

A respirator protects a worker from breathing contaminated air. Respirators are a requirement when a workplace has no adequate ventilation. In South Africa, mining is a big industry that exposes miners to large amounts of poisonous gases that have to be regulated in order to keep miners safe and in line with our legal safety regulations.


Chemical agents through contaminated surfaces, aerosols, splashes or immersion in the workplace cause skin diseases such as skin cancer or contact dermatitis. Ultra violet, high temperatures and solar radiation can also damage skin. Mechanical caused trauma can occur such as abrasions, contusions, friction, lacerations and pressure. Parasites, plants, animals and microorganisms can also affect the skin and that is why protective workwear is essential in the workplace. Strong rubber gloves that are heat or cut resistant and work coats provide protection.


Eye and Face Protection

Eye injuries occur in a workplace when solid particles enter the eye. Blunt force injuries, chemical burns, thermal agents and biological agents also contribute to eye injuries. Eye protection with high airflow combined with face shields provides protection from all forms of hazards. For both eye and respiratory protection, a full-face piece is recommended.


Ear Protection

Noise levels can cause damage to the ears. Protective workwear is important to minimise industrial noise causing long term hearing loss. Protective workwear for ears consists of earmuffs and earplugs. Protective headgear prevents head injuries to construction site workers.


Foot Protection

Foot injuries occur from lacerations, punctures, sprains, crushing, trips, falls and slips, and that is why protective footwear is essential. The type of floor in a workplace influences the comfort and safety of workers. A slippery floor can cause accidents resulting in broken bones and sprained ankles. Safety boots that are comfortable, with thick soles, steel mid-sole, and a steel toe-cap provide adequate protection.


Risk Assessments

Regular risk assessments in a workplace are important to determine the nature of any available hazard and the risk involved. Consideration should be given to the worker, the level of movement, the equipment and the nature of the environment.

Protective workwear should provide effective protection and be selected according to recognised standards. If a worker wears different protective workwear pieces at once, they should be compatible and effective.


As industry experts, Vulcan Workwear provides free workwear assessments to our clients to ensure their workwear choices protect their workforce properly.