Legal Workwear Guidelines Every Employee Should Be Aware Of

Mar 8, 2014 by

Unless you work in an office or in retail there’s a good chance that there are workwear guidelines you’ll need to adhere to and therefore should be aware of. For the most part these workwear guidelines concern footwear and helmets, though there are often, depending on the industry or sector you work in and your specific role, other guidelines that you should have been made aware of by your employer and/or union.

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Legal Requirements

There are a number of legal requirements concerning uniforms, workwear and the workplace that your employer must adhere to and you, as an employee, should be aware of what these are so as to have an understanding of your employer’s obligations concerning your health and safety in the workplace.

Here are a few examples.

  • Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)
  • Health and Social Care Act (2008) (England only)
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999)
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992)
  • Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (1992)
  • Workplace (Health and Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992)

Admittedly not all of these are concerned with uniforms and workwear directly, though workplace health and safety and uniforms and workwear are often related, if not inextricably intertwined, and as that’s so it’s convenient for you to further your understanding of both simultaneously.

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Boots, shoes and even clogs are all examples of safety footwear depending on the industry or sector in which you work and your specific job role. For example, whilst wait staff are free to wear whatever footwear they choose as long as it’s safe and their employer agrees, kitchen staff are required to wear specialist footwear that meets health and safety guidelines.

The safety footwear standards in the UK are EN345, EN ISO 20345:2004, EN ISO 20345:2007, EN ISO 20345:2007 and EN ISO 20345:20011, with the latter being the most recently introduced as you can tell by the final four digits, ‘:2011’.

The former three standards are still acceptable in the UK, for example, EN ISO 20345:2007 is the standard for footwear that was designed or has been retested after 2007, whilst footwear that was designed before 2004 and is still manufactured today carries the EN ISO 20345:2004 standard.

EN ISO 20345:20011 is the latest safety footwear standard and unlike previous standards, all footwear that’s manufactured after 31st July 2013 must meet this particular standard.

This doesn’t mean that workers have to rush out to buy a new pair of safety shoes, though it does mean that if they buy a new pair of safety shoes in the UK that were manufactured after this date they must carry the new standard.

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The wearing of safety helmets is covered by the Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989 and requires employers to ensure that suitable head protection, i.e. safety helmets, must be made available and worn in areas when there’s a risk of injury.

It’s extremely important that employees are aware of their employer’s obligation to provide them with a safety helmet if they’re working in areas where there is a risk of injury and that the safety helmets they’re provided with are suitable, i.e. they are of the right design for the work being carried out, they’re comfortable and don’t hinder the employee in the course of carrying out their work; moreover, they should also fit properly and be maintained in accordance with the guidelines set out by the Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989.

Whilst it’s your employer’s responsibility to ensure a high standard of workplace health and safety it’s in your best interests to understand what this entails.

About the Author:

Workwear House is a business that stocks a large range of jackets, overalls, coats, polo shirts, and safety shoes in the UK. They are also leading suppliers of big brands, such as JCB, Result, and Hanes.

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