With temperatures dropping as we start the New Year, now’s the time to think about whether you have the appropriate equipment and clothing in place to deal with the risks that come with this. In the UK there is no legal maximum or minimum outdoor working temperature, so employers need to know that they can rely on the workwear they wear everyday. You may have seen we’ve previously discussed the importance of the correct workwear during a heatwave, but as the winter chill persists this year, what should your employees be wearing in winter?
The effects of the unpredictable UK weather can have possible serious impacts on the health of your employees if the risks are not identified and minimised. Prolonged periods of time in cold conditions can significantly lower an employee's immune system, increasing the likelihood of illness and time off. In more serious cases, a lack of appropriate workwear could even lead to conditions such as hypothermia or even frostbite.
What simple measures can I take to help?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) gives guidance on administrational controls you may put in place:
Make sure all PPE and workwear you have supplied is acceptable for the conditions - research your workwear before buying and ensure quality over a lower price.
Ensure a multi-layered system is used in order to provide the best insulation.
So, what is appropriate workwear to provide?
As an employer it is your duty to research and provide appropriate workwear. In order to do that, you must be knowledgeable of some key points when it comes to winter workwear.
The Three Layer Principle
Dressing according to the Three Layer Principle is a smart and effective way to keep dry and stay warm. This is a garment layering system consisting of a base layer, mid layer and outer layer, which when combined correctly provide a sufficient level of comfort, warmth, breathability, water resistance and wind resistance.
Layer 1 - The Base Layer
This is the wicking layer which transports moisture away from the skin and helps regulate body temperature. Sweat goes through the next layer of clothing, ensuring the body stays dry.
Example of Base Layer: The Base Layer is one of the most important pieces of clothing, quite literally forming the base of the layering system and making sure employees stay warm and dry. This layer is worn next to the skin, creating a thin layer of warm air against the body. It helps to transport moisture and sweat vapour from the skin to regulate the body’s temperature. A perfect example of a good base layer item for your employees would be our Gryzko® Heavyweight T-shirt.
Layer 2 - The Insulation Layer
Mid-layer garments have insulating properties which trap the warmth the body generates.
Example of Insulation Layer: This layer is worn over the Base Layer to help keep in body heat as well as wicking sweat away from the body to keep the wearer warm and dry. In milder conditions the mid-layer could also act as the outer layer, but bear in mind that these garments are often not designed to protect against rain, wind or other external influences. Depending on weather we have a variety of exceptional mid-layer possibilities for you including our Anti-Pill Full Zip Micro Fleece and the Softshell Jacket.
Layer 3 - The Protection Layer
This is the Protection Layer against external influences and weather conditions. For example, a waterproof jacket for rain or a windproof or down jacket for protection against cold.
Example of Protection Layer: The outer layer is crucial for when the wearer needs protection against the elements, including wind, rain and snow. This layer is normally lightweight and waterproof, and breathability is also highly recommended. These garments stop the elements from affecting the wearer’s comfort while avoiding overheating by allowing moisture and heat to escape from the body. Our perfect pick for this is the Ultimate Gryzko® Jacket or the Alsi Zip Jacket with Reflective Tape.
Equipping your workforce with uniforms that offer a comfortable and efficient working environment, yet fully protective, is of the utmost importance. By making this a priority, not only will you be ensuring your company complies to health and safety standards but also improving productivity and performance.
Should you wish to order cold weather appropriate workwear for your employees, browse our range or call a member of our team on 01772 662500 for further advice before placing your order.