Does an investment in safer workwear and PPE require compromises when it comes to things like employee comfort, breadth of choice, or affordability? Nick Grinnell explains…
Comfort vs safety – a necessary trade-off?
It is a common misconception that adhering to safety standards must come at the sacrifice of other elements of the workwear equation, like comfort, choice and affordability.
While that may have been the case in the past, thankfully those days are long behind us.
Advances in materials technology and fabric engineering mean it is no longer necessary to make that trade-off. You can have it all – you just have to make the right choices.
From polo shirts, trousers and fleece jackets, to hi vis clothing, safety gloves and safety footwear, our workwear works hard to keep us safe and comfortable at work, day-in-day-out, all year round.
But how many people are wearing workwear that isn’t comfortable, that they can’t wait to take off at the end of the day? It’s more common than you might think.
Uncomfortable workwear: the cost
Uncomfortable workwear isn’t just undesirable and unnecessary – it can also be dangerous and damaging – both to your employees and to your business’s bottom line.
Unsuitable safety footwear is a leading cause of musculoskeletal disorders – one of the biggest causes of lost work days in logistics and warehousing – and a lack of comfort is one of the signs that footwear isn’t providing your employees with the right level of protection. Meanwhile, safety gloves that are itchy and uncomfortable could indicate a potentially serious danger that needs to be addressed.
Being comfortable has also been shown to make employees happier and more productive, meaning that the reverse must also be true – if your employees are uncomfortable at work, your business is less productive as a result.
Finally, comfort is one of the hallmarks of good quality workwear, which in turn costs your business less in the long run.
Find out more: Read our blog on how an investment in good quality workwear and PPE can save you money in the longer term.
What makes for comfortable workwear?
There are lots of elements that go into choosing the right workwear and PPE for your team. As well as taking into account the safety standards items need to meet, you may need to consider additional features like waterproofing or thermal properties, depending on your work environment.
Some other things to look for:
- Evaluate the weight, flexibility and impact protection of safety footwear.
While lightness isn’t everything, your employees need to be happy wearing whatever you choose, without feeling like they’re dragging bricks around on their feet all day. Look for flexible soles with good shock absorption, and make sure footwear fits individual wearers correctly, allowing extra space around the toes for the feet to expand during the day and fitting snugly at the heel.
Read our guide to the best safety footwear for walking on hard surfaces.
- Choose workwear made from high quality fabrics. Good quality items of clothing feel better to wear, and the robust manufacturing processes that go into their production mean they are likely to fit better, reducing the risk of them getting snagged as your employees go about their work, as well as reducing the likelihood of fastenings like zips failing and causing additional frustration or annoyance. In warmer environments, consider purchasing moisture wicking workwear to keep your employees cool and comfortable all day long.
- Select the best safety gloves for the specific requirements of the job. Consider what features your employees need from their safety gloves, and remember the dangers of buying cheap.
Check out our guide to the best safety gloves for warehouse work.
And remember, if you need any help finding workwear and PPE that is safe, comfortable and affordable, a good workwear supplier will be happy to advise, and to answer any questions you may have relating to your specific workplace requirements.