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Are waterproofs and wet weather gear PPE?

Crew 654 Heavy Duty Raingear

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your workers are healthy and safe while at work. There are PPE regulations and H&S guidelines to follow, as well as your own common sense. But what about working in the rain – do waterproofs count as PPE?

What are the hazards of working in the rain?

In order to better understand your obligations with regards to the safety of your employees, you need to assess the hazards they face. The most obvious and important is the slippery surface that wet conditions can create. You need to do all you can to reduce the risk of someone slipping over and hurting themselves, whether on the ground, at sea or when working at height.

Wet weather gear for work

The risk of hypothermia and frostbite

Another very real risk when working in wet weather combined with low temperatures is hypothermia. If your team are soaked through in cold conditions, their body temperatures could drop to a level which causes hypothermia. This could result in fatigue, shivering, confusion and even loss of consciousness. To prevent this, you need to find excellent quality wet weather gear that keeps your team warm and dry as much as possible.

Another potential risk is frostbite, affecting the fingers and toes in cold, wet conditions when appropriate gloves and footwear aren’t worn.

What does the law say about PPE and the rain?

Specific working in the rain laws don’t exist in every country as such, but PPE regulations are very clear on one thing – employers must pay attention to hazards of all kinds. This means the risks outlined above, as well as anything else about working in the rain that could be dangerous.

The first step you should take is to remove or reduce the hazard in the first place, with PPE used as a last resort.

Choosing the best wet weather gear for work

When looking at the best options for kitting out your team for work in the rain, bear these essential tips in mind:

  • Buy cheap, buy twice – it’s worth spending more for quality, hard-wearing wet weather gear
  • Breathability is very important – without ventilation that allows air to flow, you’ll quickly become uncomfortable and hot in your oilskins
  • Opt for waterproof, rather than water-resistant clothing – it’s easy to be fooled, but take the time to find fully waterproof gear with reinforced seams, adjustable cuffs to keep the rain out and tough PVC material.

How strong is our PVC?

Boots and gloves

From a PPE perspective, boots, gloves and headgear are among the most important things you can kit your team out in. Good quality boots with excellent grip will stop them slipping in the rain, while good waterproof gloves can protect from frostbite. A warm knitted beanie stops heat loss from the head, crucial in ice-cold conditions.

For exceptional wet weather gear suitable for a wide range of conditions and working environments, choose Stormline. It doesn’t have to cost the earth either, as we can offer discounts of up to 15% when you buy in bulk – take a look here at our full range of wholesale wet weather gear.

Check out our heavy duty work wear.