As a health and safety professional, you have a lot of responsibilities. Choosing the right protective clothing for employees is only one of them. You know there is more to your job than just ‘creating an outfit that looks nice and offers FR protection. There are many elements to take into account, such as; standards to comply with, preferences of your workers, maintenance costs, and many more.
To determine which protective fabrics will check all your boxes, it is your job to combine the elements that suit your needs and match your work environment. Complex? Yes. Doable? Definitely. In this blog, we will help you prioritize the most important criteria so you can make a well-considered choice of protective clothing in the future.
1. Safety: know the work environment
The definition of safety depends on your work environment. So the first and most important criterion is the safety of your workers. Needless to say, there are minimum requirements in protective workwear that you must comply with. These US Standards are set by NFPA 2112 and NFPA 70E depending on the applicable hazard.
When you are aware of which safety requirements your protective clothing should comply with, you can start looking for ways to satisfy your workers in terms of comfort and your management in terms of cost in use.
2. Comfort: delight your workers
Always make sure comfort is not your ‘weakest link’ in protective clothing. If protective clothing is safe but uncomfortable to wear, employees can neglect to wear their garments properly. This will increase the safety risks that you were looking to avoid in the first place.
To assure that the protective clothing you select is as comfortable as possible, there are certain elements to take into consideration:
- Weight of the fabric: can the weight restrict your ability to move freely?
- Moisture absorption of the fabric: how is the sweat uptake and its release?
- Breathability of the fabric: can heat and moisture transmit easily through the fabric?
- Softness: how does the fabric feel on the skin?
Choosing comfort does not mean sacrificing safety. Innovations in the fabric market enable partners in the value chain to create protective clothing that is comfortable while maintaining high levels of protection.
3. Total cost of ownership: build a case for management
A lot of people within your company, such as purchasing or production managers, will have an opinion about your choice of protective clothing. To implement the new garment, your internal stakeholders need to be aligned on this topic. They will focus on the price and want to assess whether costs align with the quality and durability.
However, price is not the only element to take into consideration. When the quality and thus the lifetime of the garment is two times as high, it makes the extra cost more justifiable to your management. You need to consider price as just one element in the total cost of ownership (TCO) criteria. We can summarize the TCO as the relationship between:
- Purchase price
- Maintenance: wash and repair costs
- Lifetime of the garment
If you take the time to do the math on the TCO, it will help you build a solid business case to present to management and speed up the process.
As you can see, choosing protective clothing is complex. Even when you are able to prioritize the most important criteria, there are still a lot of elements that you need to take into account. That is why we cannot emphasize enough that there is an entire value chain in the protective clothing industry at your service. Challenge them from day one, ask them to answer your most important questions, and have them shape the project together with you. By doing this, your future protective clothing will tick all the boxes.
Determine the outlines of your company’s future protective clothing
Your employees and management team expect you to improve and innovate on protective garments, but the process of choosing new protective clothing is just one of your responsibilities. There are more considerations, such as durability, that will also influence your end result.
Contact us today to speak with one of our protective clothing specialists to get objective and customized advice.