Workwear Buying Guide

If you work outdoors for a living, it’s important that you have the right workwear in order to keep you safe and warm.

Work and safety wear covers a large range of clothing, from outer layers to shirts, including hi-vis. Whether you work on a building site or a farm, this clothing is important throughout the year, but what do you need? What is workwear?

Well, Winfields is here to not explain what work and safety wear is, but we’ll detail the key pieces of clothing you need for working outdoors or around heavy machinery. So, whether you’re buying for yourself, a colleague or a business, you can understand everything about workwear.

Read on to discover more about workwear clothing and how it can keep you safe…

What is workwear?

Workwear is the clothing that is worn for manual or heavy labour. The clothing is made to provide high durability and safety, which is why you may have seen these clothes on building sites, engineering, services and manufacturing industries. Plus, if you work outdoors for a living, it’s important that you have the right workwear in order to keep you safe and warm.

Workwear is made from durable material that is resistant to abrasion and is often fully-waterproof. This also means that you will be protected against everything, from adverse weather conditions to chemical splashes. If you will be facing temperature extremes, potential falls, electrostatic build-up, or slippery surfaces, safety clothing must be provided.

What are the Types of Workwear Clothing?

When it comes to workwear clothing, there are key items to be aware of that are crucial throughout the year when working outdoors. These can include:

  • Jackets
  • Bodywarmers
  • Fleeces
  • Shirts
  • Hoodies and sweatshirts
  • Trousers and shorts

Workwear will also include hi-vis clothing, which is usually found on jackets and trousers.

What is Hi-Vis Clothing?

As the name suggests, hi-vis clothing is a type of clothing that is designed to be highly visible with reflective panels on top of fluorescent, matt material. For example, a jacket may be made featuring yellow or orange matt material with reflective stripes on top.

When to Wear Hi-Vis Clothing

According to the Health and Safety Executive, there are rules on when reflective PPE – Personal Protective Equipment – must be worn.

  • Firstly, if a construction site has a high-visibility policy, then you must follow it.
  • Secondly, high-visibility clothing should be worn in all locations where vehicles or plants are operating. This will include when drivers leave a vehicle.
  • Finally, some operations, such as temporary traffic management, need a higher standard of high-visibility clothing. This is because vehicles are moving at higher speeds, meaning that drivers need to see hazards from further away, allowing for more time to react. This is why long-sleeved jackets and high-visibility trousers are advised.

Workwear Clothing Features

Due to the wide range of items for work and safety clothing, they come with a whole host of features to keep you safe and warm. We’ve detailed some, on a jacket as an example, to give you an idea before providing extra information.

Some of the features can include:

  • Storm collar: keeps your neck covered and protected, blocking out rain and wind.
  • Quilted lining: for additional warmth in winter conditions.
  • Fleece lining: like a quilted lining, it will provide warmth when working outdoors.
  • Waterproofing: vital when working outdoors on a construction or engineering site, farm or roadside.
  • Wind-resistant: potentially fully windproof, it will keep out gusts and maintain your body temperature.
  • Chest pockets: for storing essentials or your mobile phone or radio set to make sure you are connected to colleagues.
  • Sealed pockets: featuring storm flaps to make sure your personal items are kept dry.
  • Storm flaps: A thin strip of material across your main zip that adds an extra level of protection against leaks.
  • Taped seams: heat-sealed seams that prevent water from coming through the stitching.
  • Adjustable hem and cuffs: create a snug fit to prevent wind and rain from getting in your jacket.

For trousers, they may feature stretchy knee sections for freedom of movement but to also allow you to insert knee pads when necessary. On top of this, they can come with a behind-knee vent to allow for air circulation.

What to consider when buying workwear

When buying your work and safety clothing, there are important questions you need to bear in mind so you get the PPE that will keep you safe.

The Weather

As everyone knows, the British climate can be unpredictable. So, before starting any project or job, you need to consider the time of year and what weather you can expect to have while working.

In the summer, you can expect warmer, hotter weather, while in winter, temperatures drop, and the earlier nights can cause low visibility. All of this needs to be considered. We’ve made some tips to help you choose your workwear to match with the weather.

Dry and hot weather:

  • Hard-wearing work shorts and t-shirts, with added breathability for keeping cool and comfortable whilst working.
  • You should only wear shorts if it suits the job you are doing. Plus, if a site has a policy on clothing that does not allow shorts, then you should follow this rule.
  • Lightweight protective jackets are an excellent outer layer in spring or early autumn during mild conditions. This can include bodywarmers or vests and hoodies.

Wet and cold weather:

  • Hi-vis safety workwear and clothing, such as jackets, trousers or vests, for maximum protection.
  • Thermals to wick sweat away from your body and keep you dry and comfortable.
  • Waterproof essentials, just like you would for a walk, such as jackets and work trousers.
  • Continue to layer-up with fleeces and thick coats and jackets.

The Job and its Requirements

A key mistake that you can make is taking a generic approach when buying workwear, rather than actually thinking about the specific needs of a job.

You should always carry out a full and proper risk assessment, and ensure that the equipment you use or provide is fit for purpose. You can’t just hand your workers or grab a hi-vis jacket, a hard hat and some safety gloves for every task.

This means that you need to think about the specific risks you may be exposed to and for how long. Then, you should invest in clothing that will offer comprehensive protection, from head to toe, throughout the project and in all weather conditions.

You should also make sure that the PPE you purchase fits comfortably and securely. Poorly-fitting workwear can be less effective in offering protection, and it can also hinder your productivity as a result.

The Relevant Regulations

Not all items of PPE and workwear are created equally. Both the UK and European regulators have strict rules in place to make sure that workwear is fit for purpose. You will need to follow these rules at all times.

Therefore, you need to make sure you’re buying products that are CE Mark-approved, and are in accordance with the UK’s Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. It’s also vital to keep up-to-date of changes in legislation that might affect PPE and workwear policies.

The Functionality and Quality of Clothing

For workwear, you need to consider what you or your employees actually do in their day-to-day jobs. Do you need extra pockets? Maybe your work trousers need some protective knee pads? These small details will make the difference between good and great workwear that is safe and functional.

You should always choose high-quality clothing for your workwear as you will save money in the long run due to them being more durable. Cheap work clothing may cause more trouble than the savings are worth by not lasting or providing protection.

Now you’re all prepared to know everything about safety and workwear when buying your clothing, and you can find the top brands and newest releases at Winfields.

Click on the links below for more workwear essentials.

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