The appropriate clothing for construction operatives is required on every building site but what some aren’t aware of is the legality surrounding its use and whether there is room for any flexibility.
With this in mind, we’re going to provide an overview of the law in the UK legislating the use of PPE as well as the many benefits that the right work clothes provide.
The requirement for appropriate head protection to be worn on building sites where there is a risk of head injury is nothing new and is currently covered by the 1992 Personal Protection Equipment Regulations.
It is the responsibility of your employer to provide you with the appropriate headwear but if you’re self-employed, the responsibility lies with you.
The only universally recognised piece of construction head protection is the plastic hard hat which is available cheaply in a range of colours and is size adjustable.
The appropriate foot protection for construction activities is widely regarded to be a pair of ankle boots with steel toe cap protection and a sole that is resistant to corrosive substances. There are several variations of this footwear with a typical ‘lace up shoe’ version available but we will always recommend that boots are worn for the ankle protection they provide.
Again, the onus is on your employer to provide you with suitable foot protection that complies with and conforms to the relevant standards. Always look for the CE mark to ensure that any footwear provided will protect you from injury.
Can I Wear Rigger Boots on Site?
Rigger boots have always been a popular option due to the ease of putting them on and taking them off. They’re also usually roomy enough to allow the wearer to wear a thick pair of socks or layer up.
The controversy surrounding rigger boots is due to the fact that some companies believe that they offer less ankle protection and leave you vulnerable to spraining and twisting of the ankle.
Rigger boots are perfectly legal as long as they’re CE certified for use as PPE but if your employer would rather you didn’t wear them due to company policy, you must comply.
What About Other Builder’s Wear?
What you choose to wear to cover your legs and torso is up to you as long as it is appropriate for your given task and environment. What we would say is that specific workers wear is often far more hard wearing and likely to last longer than regular clothing.
We would always suggest that a full length pair of work trousers are worn which are high in quality and will protect your legs from scrapes and spillages.
The requirement to wear goggles and gloves will be dependant upon your site managers policy so consult your employer for further advice. We would always recommend that you do wear safety gloves and protective googles to give yourself the best protection possible.
Where Can I Buy PPE from?
If you’re self-employed or are responsible for providing your own PPE, it can be bought from any good builder’s merchant or hardware store. It is also possible to buy builder’s work clothes online from several well-known retailers who offer an extensive selection. The sizing will generally be similar to regular clothing so use your knowledge of what fits you best as a guide.
PPE may one day end up saving your life so it’s important to make sure it’s worn properly at all times.