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Selecting Protective Clothing in Fashion – A Comprehensive Guide


Protective clothing is a necessity to mitigate workplace hazards, especially in the dynamic environments of fashion and manufacturing. This guide is to aid mentors and industry experts in selecting the appropriate protective gear and ensuring safety while maintaining industry-specific standards and aesthetics.

Understanding Protective Clothing Needs in the Fashion Industry

In the UK, employers are legally obliged to provide suitable protective clothing under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. Compliance with these regulations involves assessing risks, providing appropriate equipment, and training employees on its use. The fashion industry must adhere to specific standards such as EN ISO 13688 for general requirements of protective clothing, and more specialised standards depending on the materials and processes used.

The fashion manufacturing sector presents unique risks including cuts from sharp materials, chemical spills during dyeing processes, and burns from irons or machinery. Employers must identify these risks to select appropriate protective clothing for their staff. Quality and fit are essential, and safety measures should not impede creative and operational processes.

Image by Harold Granados – pexels.com

Types of Protective Clothing

Aprons or protective jackets are vital for those involved in dyeing and printing, offering protection against chemical splashes. Gloves must be selected based on their resistance to cuts, chemicals, or heat, fitting the specific task, whether it’s fabric cutting, machine operation, or chemical handling. Safety eyewear and footwear protect against flying particles and spills, while masks are essential for preventing inhalation of harmful dust or chemicals. Each item of protective clothing must be chosen with the specific hazards of a task in mind, ensuring comprehensive protection.

The selection of materials for protective clothing in the fashion industry should prioritise resistance to specific hazards such as cuts, heat, or chemicals, without compromising on comfort and flexibility. Materials like Kevlar are renowned for their cut-resistant properties, while aluminised fabrics offer heat resistance. The design should allow for ease of movement, ensuring that protective gear supports rather than hinders tasks. Additionally, the design must account for long periods of wear, ensuring that garments are breathable and fit well to prevent fatigue and discomfort.

To select the right protective clothing, you must first evaluate key criteria beyond basic safety requirements. Assess the specific hazards of the task, such as abrasion, chemical exposure, or thermal risks. Durability is important for both safety and cost considerations; clothing must withstand the conditions of the work environment and frequent use, and finding durable protective clothing results in a lower turnover of equipment. Comfort and proper fit are essential to ensure workers wear the clothing correctly and consistently – size options must accommodate all employees to ensure full protection for everyone.

Proper maintenance is key to ensuring protective clothing continues to offer the intended level of safety. Regular cleaning according to manufacturer guidelines, inspection for wear and tear, and proper storage are essential. Protective clothing should be replaced immediately if it shows signs of damage or wear that could compromise safety. Establish guidelines for disposal, especially for items contaminated with hazardous materials, to ensure they do not pose a risk to others.

Implementing a Protective Clothing Program

Implementing a protective clothing strategy requires clear communication, training, and regular evaluation. Train employees on the correct use, maintenance, and storage of protective gear. Regular safety audits can help identify new hazards and ensure that protective clothing meets current standards. Encourage feedback from employees to address comfort and fit issues, ensuring higher compliance rates.

Selecting and implementing high-quality protective clothing is essential for safety in the workplace. By understanding specific needs, adhering to legal standards, choosing appropriate materials, and maintaining protective gear, employers can create a safer environment. 

Intro image by Michelle Leman – pexels.com

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