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BODY PROTECTION & WORKWEAR


PROCUREMENT: JUST THE BEGINNING


David Harmer, Category Manager for PPE at Alexandra, discusses how initial procurement decisions on PPE must be followed by workforce training on correct use


and maintenance. Nowadays, companies tend to be well-informed and proactive about procuring the PPE solutions that are best suited to their business. Increased awareness of health and safety regulations, as well as recognising the advantages of purchasing equipment and clothing that effectively serves daily operations, means that businesses are, more often than not, aware of what factors they need to consider in making purchasing decisions about PPE workwear.


However, procurement is only the first step in establishing a best practice approach to PPE workwear, and must be backed up by adequate staff education and awareness of the role it should play while in the workplace. This


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process should involve training on correct use, establishing a workable system of maintenance and replacement, and crucially, regular guidance to support staff. If such a culture is not encouraged, then the benefits of a careful procurement process will not be passed on to daily operations when PPE actually comes to be used. The end result in such a scenario is that protective equipment will end up playing a far less significant role than it is capable of, which in turn can lead to a higher risk of otherwise easily- avoidable accidents.


In beginning to think about how to instil a best practice culture with PPE, it helps to consider any potential stumbling blocks that


may exist in a workforce’s attitude towards the clothing they are provided with. For example, sometimes staff simply do not adhere to correct use recommendations for workwear, or they are unaware of the risks of not doing so. Additionally, complacency can set in after prolonged periods of time, with staff neglecting to use protective clothing for tasks that they deem to be ‘minor’, or of ‘lesser risk’.


One solution to curbing resistance to PPE that is often overlooked, is that of consultation with staff before final procurement decisions are made. After all, those responsible for procurement are rarely the same individuals who end up wearing PPE. It


makes sense, therefore, to communicate about issues that staff may be encountering, so as to make sure that procurement decisions address workers’ needs.


Such communication among businesses has led to the growth of more fashionable PPE workwear, which is not only protective and comfortable, but is a departure from the flatness of more traditional work clothing. For example, at Alexandra we are finding that branded eyewear is increasingly popular, as it fulfils all the requirements expected from PPE, such as comfort, durability and lens technology, with the additional aesthetic appeal of a fashion brand. This shift towards workwear that fulfils multiple purposes


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