Providing a safe working environment for employees is a paramount concern for business owners and managers in the manufacturing industry. A big component of workplace safety is proper training—workers should be instructed on how to perform their duties without putting themselves or others at risk of physical harm. But it is equally important to ensure that workers are outfitted with high-quality protective gear and clothing as well as personal protective equipment (PPE). Ensuring that your employees have access to the right protective apparel is essential for minimizing the incidence of on-the-job injuries and keeping your company compliant with Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) rules.
The easiest way to do this is to partner with a third-party uniform supplier that specializes in high-grade PPE and workplace apparel.
Types of Protective Clothing
The kinds of protective clothing found in any given workplace depends on the specific operating conditions of the facility. The more common types of protective clothing include:
Flame-resistant jackets – Often worn over the worker’s FR uniform, these jackets are useful in areas with open flame and other fire hazards. Environments with high arc flash risk often mandate the use of flame-resistant shirts and pants as well.
High-visibility and enhanced visibility apparel – These specialized types of vests, shirts, and pants enable workers to be more easily seen in areas with poor lighting and/or obstructed sightlines. High-visibility clothing is mainly of a single bright, fluorescent color with appropriately rated reflective striping, while enhanced visibility clothing simply has reflective tape in certain spots.
Suppliers of protective clothing often manufacture apparel to conform to each employee’s size, ensuring a comfortable fit.
Buying, Renting, and Leasing
How can you obtain safe, reliable uniforms for your workers? This is where it’s useful to develop a business relationship with a third-party uniform supply company. If you’d like to obtain suitable work uniforms and apparel for your personnel, your three options are to purchase, rent, or lease.
Purchase – You buy apparel and gear outright from the third-party vendor. The advantage of this is that the apparel is fully owned by your company, but you will have to arrange your own uniform laundering and repair services. This tends to be the most time intensive of the three options.
Rent – Under a rental agreement, the third-party vendor maintains ownership of the gear and arranges for laundering services on a weekly basis. Your third-party supplier will also repair or replace frayed or damaged clothing as needed.
Lease – This is similar to a rental agreement in that the third-party supplier retains ownership of the apparel and repairs it when necessary. The main difference is that laundry services are not included. Leasing works for companies that have in-house apparel cleaning equipment or customarily require employees to wash their own uniforms at home.
Types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
In addition to uniforms, PPE is often mandated at manufacturing sites. These are generally non-customized “one size fits all” accessories.
Face masks – Reusable and disposable masks protect the wearer from airborne contaminants such as dust particles.
Gloves – Latex and nitrile disposable gloves are effective in shielding the hands from toxic chemicals and other corrosive substances.
Goggles – This specialized kind of eyewear protects against chemicals, vapors, airborne particles, and glare from light sources.
Earplugs – Inserted into the ears, these are useful in very noisy environments.
Hard hats – Although primarily associated with construction sites, this kind of headwear can be deployed in any workplace where objects may fall from a height onto personnel.
Whatever options you choose, it is important to understand that a third-party uniform supplier is your best bet when it comes to keeping your employees outfitted with the kind of specialized clothing and PPE that the modern workplace requires.