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How to manage workwear risks

Providing employees with suitable workwear to protect them from hazards, and then ensuring that it is maintained and cleaned properly can be a difficult and time-consuming task for businesses. While the supply of workwear is usually associated with minimising risk, choosing or washing the workwear incorrectly can actually create risks, for employees and the business. Paul Swift, of workwear rental and laundry service provider, Elis, outlines four questions that businesses can ask themselves, to help minimise risks associated with employees’ workwear.

1. Do you have the correct workwear?

Elis estimates that around 60 per cent of businesses, which provide their employees with workwear, are using at least some that is not properly protecting their employees and may not be compliant with legislation. Businesses often look to suppliers for advice on which workwear to provide and should check that those providing the advice have the knowledge to do so. Elis, for example, has in-house PPE expertise so can help businesses choose appropriate garments.

2. Is the workwear being washed properly?

A build-up of oil on workwear could turn it into more of a hazard than a protection. Also, washing high visibility garments incorrectly can make them less visible. Businesses should consider whether their wash processes are delivering an appropriate standard of cleaning and hygiene. A workwear rental and laundry service, such as Elis’, which uses industrial laundries with programmes and processes tailored to the garments’ requirements, can ensure consistency and validation of the correct wash process. Garments are tracked using bar codes or RFID technology to improve delivery accuracy, garment quality and stock visibility.

3. Is the workwear being maintained?

Ensuring that the workwear is washed properly is extremely important for risk reduction but ensuring that it is maintained and repaired in the correct way is critical too. Holes and tears can leave skin unprotected and be at risk of catching on machinery or tools. Keeping on top of repairs also means garments last longer and costs can be reduced. A maintenance service can be part of the workwear laundry package, so that any necessary repairs are undertaken automatically, before items are returned to the customer. This approach can help to minimise workwear risk, as well as cost, and can be a lower carbon footprint option.

4. How are workwear and laundry costs being controlled?

It can be useful to look at the total costs involved in workwear supply and laundry. Businesses can be surprised to find that they may save money moving to a workwear rental and laundry service, rather than buying workwear and paying for laundry separately. Rental options, such as Elis’s, can also help businesses keep control of costs and there are no up-front purchasing costs either. As part of the cost analysis, businesses should include how the workwear is organised when staff change. A rental contract can mean that workwear can be swapped if employees change, ensuring they always have the most appropriate garments and the best fit. RFID tags and bar codes on garments also help to ensure that the business has the right workwear to meet its needs; not too much and not too little, as well as minimising lost stock.

Elis works with thousands of businesses around the UK, advising them on their workwear requirements, supplying the garments and then regularly laundering and maintaining them. The business is the first laundry and textile services company in the UK to state its intent to attain net zero carbon emissions by 2045. This major commitment is the next step on a journey to reduce its emissions, which started over ten years ago and which has been certified over several years by The Carbon Trust. This goal is aligned with the UK government’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Elis is an international multi-service provider, offering textile, hygiene and facility services solutions. Present in Europe and Latin America, Elis is a leader in most of the 28 countries in which it operates, employing 50,000 professionals at 440 production and services centres. The company works for public and private organisations of all sizes and across all sectors.

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