Every year, Bonfire Night is traditionally celebrated across the UK on 5th November with a wide range of public and private bonfire and firework events. However, this year, the Children’s Burns Trust aims to raise awareness of firework safety and the 500 children and their families ‘who will join the growing number of people who will remember bonfire night for the wrong reasons’ as a result of being injured through a fireworks-related accident.
Each year too, on National Burns Awareness Day in October attention is focused on ‘the shocking number of people burned each and every day – the vast majority of which are preventable’. UK accident and emergency departments report around 175,000 burns victims coming through their doors each year. To help reduce burn statistics in the workplace Johnsons Apparelmaster is urging British businesses to ‘dress for protection’ and to talk to their workwear suppliers about optimum protection when selecting and maintaining staff workwear.
Most burn injuries in the workplace happen because of accidental misuse or clumsy handling of thermal, chemical or electrical sources and many serious accidents at work that result in burns can be avoided with due diligence and preparation. Employers can be fined heavily if these injuries result from unsafe work practices, including employees not having the correct protective clothing suitable for their work. The importance of PPE was recently launched into the Health and Safety spotlight with the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2016/425 earlier this year in April. Formerly a directive, PPE legislation is now a legally binding regulation. Courts take into consideration not only the severity and pain of a burn injury, caused through employer negligence, but also how this affects the victim, both physically and mentally.
It is the employer’s duty to ensure that a rigorous risk assessment is carried out and that the right protective workwear is supplied, maintained, and replaced, when it is no longer suitable, for teams at risk of burns who are working in a variety of roles from maintenance and engineering to construction.
Mark Rue, Johnsons Apparelmaster’s Sales and Marketing Director warns employers against taking a one-size-fits-all approach to protecting staff: “A trustworthy, informed and experienced workwear provider can provide workwear that meets PPE requirements but can also share knowledge with customers on the suitability, benefits and corresponding protection offered by one garment over another. Advanced fabric technology should be considered but, no matter how advanced the textiles, all protective workwear must be cleaned correctly to function as intended. Dirty clothing and incorrect processing will reduce the performance of the garment and the wearer may be at risk. Neither is there is one universal laundry process for protective workwear. All garments are manufactured from different fabric and trims and some have bespoke adjustments and decorative branding. These will need to be washed in a specific way or dry cleaned. Responsible suppliers will undertake extensive wash tests to ensure that the garments provided and the maintenance process are fit for purpose, before they are supplied to a client. Some garments also need ongoing surface treatments to ensure that they remain fit for purpose.”
Mark recommends considering the following hints and tips when selecting a workwear service supplier to reduce risk for both the company and its employees:
•ensure your supplier is abreast of relevant European standards and developments in new fabrics, technology and servicing options
•ensure your supplier is proactive in sharing knowledge to highlight and explain standards in a way that is both meaningful and useful; that they explain the suitability, benefits and corresponding protection offered by one garment over another; and that they will educate staff in the correct use of PPE workwear
•ensure extensive wash tests so that the garments provided and/or laundry process are fit for purpose
•ensure technology, innovation and data collection contribute to process improvement and ensuring that PPE workwear is replaced, adequate stock controls are available, and accurate information can support audit and compliance trails
On Bonfire Night, enjoy the celebrations safely with family, friends and colleagues and take a look at how you could offer best protection to your employees.