With the warmer months in sight now, protective clothing can become an uncomfortable uniform for many workers, potentially breaching health and safety standards.
Industries such as welding, engineering and heating require employees to wear flame retardant (FR) clothing in order to comply with FR related standards. One of the biggest concerns for workforces wearing FR clothing throughout spring and summer is heat exhaustion.
However, there are simple practices that can be obtained to prevent this without compromising employee’s health and safety in relation to working with fire, flame and hot spatter.
1. Wear lightweight fabrics
Indeed, flame retardant garments are still necessary when working with or handling hot and hazardous elements. Nonetheless, the majority of FR clothing is made out of a combination of fabrics such as polyester and cotton to counteract discomfort caused by overheating.
This fabric combination ensures that garments are durable and unlikely to be subjected to wear and tear, whilst remaining lightweight enough for fresh air to circulate around the body and keep the individual wearer cool.
For example, protective workwear brand Gryzko – manufactured by leading European workwear brand Alsico – contains a number of flame retardant pieces manufactured in line with this.
- Gryzko® FR Jacket, £43.95 - https://www.alsico.co.uk/gryzko-fr-jacket-2
- Gryzko® FR Trouser, £39.95 - https://www.alsico.co.uk/gryzko-fr-trouser
- Gryzko® FR Coverall, £76.95 - https://www.alsico.co.uk/gryzko-fr-coverall
2. Stay hydrated
A particularly simple habit to take on board, but one that will make a significant difference. With only 19% of Brits knowing the recommended daily water intake, it comes as no surprise that most of us would regularly be regarded as dehydrated. This is becoming more and more of a growing concern in workplaces where the job role is active, as this can eventually surpass dehydration and develop into heat exhaustion.
Most protective workwear and flame-retardant clothing ranges are manufactured with holster pockets, or you can even purchase your own detachable ones. Make these multipurpose by carrying not only your tools but also a small bottle of water to sip on throughout the day.
For employers, it should be a top priority to ensure all employees are taking the appropriate number of breaks for the amount of hours they work and have the means at hand to hydrate themselves, particularly on a hot day.
3. Take your breaks
Following on from the point above, taking breaks enables staff to hydrate themselves before embarking on the rest of their shift, but it also allows their heart rate to work its way down to the natural resting beats per minute whilst your body’s natural cooling techniques take action. Refusing to carry out these measures will, in time, lead to heat exhaustion.
To protect yourself and your workers, bring yourselves up to scratch on the early tell-tale signs of heat exhaustion:
- Dark-coloured urine
- Dizziness and confusion
Choosing not to take action against this, such as a small break, can cause more serious symptoms to occur such as fainting, nausea, and muscle cramps. Often, ending in workers needing to take time off work in order to recover.
When choosing the right heat and flame clothing for your workforce, opt for garments which can be easily removed should they wish to do away with a piece of clothing when taking a break. For instance, features such as stud fastenings, insulated but cooling fabric, loose fitting garments, all work towards making the employee’s environment as comfortable as possible.
When it comes to PPE and safety clothing, it’s not always about making the right choices to protect your employees against the elements and substances they work with, but also the environment they work in. Especially during the warmer weather and sunnier days.