One of the primary purposes of workwear, no matter what type of work is involved, is of course to help protect the wearer from injury and reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace. But just wearing it is only half the battle; a fact that is very often overlooked is that it’s just as important to ensure that workwear is properly maintained so that it performs to maximum efficiency at all times; and that means it is the duty of both the individual and employer to make sure all types of workwear are kept clean, hygienic and fit for purpose.
Cleanliness is vital as failing to wash all work garments properly can lead to the risk of infection for both the wearer and the people with whom he or she works; dirt, oil, grease and other substances, if ignored, can also lead to deterioration and a subsequent reduction in protective efficiency or worse, if not regularly inspected, actually cause accidents through stitching or fastenings becoming loose from gradual weakening.
But simply throwing dirty garments into a domestic washing machine at home is not enough. The average temperature used at home is 48ºC but bacteria can only be thoroughly destroyed when garments are boiled or washed at over 73ºC.
It’s a common misconception to think that domestic washing of work clothes is sufficient; they may look clean and smell fragrant but will not necessarily be microbiologically hygienic. What’s more, PPE that is washed at home might actually be damaged during each washing cycle causing the slow erosion of protective qualities such as within high-visual strips or infection-resistant fabric, resulting in non-compliance with health & safety or internal hygiene regulations. So employers in particular should be aware of the false economy of allowing home laundering or in using a non-specialist contractor, as the integrity of every garment that is not correctly laundered and inspected can be put at risk with the resultant responsibility resting heavily on management’s own unprotected shoulders.
Danish company Engel Workwear, one of Europe’s leading workwear manufacturers, which has established a firm foothold in the UK and Irish markets, is a prime example of an organisation that places great importance on the proper after-care of its products, all of which conform to all relevant British and European standard regulations. UK and Ireland Sales Manager, Gareth Bladon, says, “We take enormous pride in our reputation for the comfort and long-term safety effectiveness of all our workwear lines and emphasise to our distributors that they should explain to all their customers the importance of correct washing and maintenance procedures. We maintain that if you have the best product it’s worth giving it the very best care.”
(An exception to the 73ºC ideal washing temperature is that with Engel’s ‘Safety’ Collection, the company recommends for best results it should only be 60ºC.)
Many of Engel Workwear’s corporate clients in the UK have on-going service contracts with specialist workwear laundering and hygiene rental companies in all regions of the UK and Ireland.
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