In the summer, we tend to reach for sunglasses, shorts and lightweight tops. When the weather is nice and the sun is out, this is perfectly understandable.
In this article we will be exploring work clothing worn and used in summer. We will be looking to see if the current safety regulations allow for these items at work. Firstly, let’s refresh ourselves on the basics of PPE
What is PPE?
PPE or Personal Protective Equipment is a term given to an item that protects the lungs, head, feet, eyes, skin and body. PPE is designed to reduce the risk of injury.
If you are an employer, you have the responsibility to provide PPE to employees. Section 9 of the Health and Safety at work Act 1974 states there must also be no charge to an employee for the use of PPE. This means that it is the employers duty to provide employees with PPE without charges or deductions in wages.
Sunglasses at work
As an employer, you have a duty to protect employees from hazards. These hazards may alter in the summer. As an employer you will need to consider implementing the following:
- Shading your employee from sunlight
- Ensuring hats and suitable clothing is worn. This includes lightweight materials
- Ensuring employees at working at a comfortable temperature
Would sunglasses be classed as PPE?
Sunglasses are classed as PPE when used to protect in an environment that has sun exposure or hazardous UV rays. Most PPE sunglasses are often referred to as safety spectacles. Protecting employees from potential hazards to the eyes is important. Imagine the scenario of a forklift driver who couldn’t see clearly due to the sun. Now imagine if they were then responsible for hitting someone. It is in the companies best interest to supply the driver with sunglasses.
Employees with sunglasses can reduce the chance of an injury due to enhanced visibility in the sun.
As well as sunglasses, hats could reduce the direct effect of sunlight.
To find out more about the laws around eye protection including EN ratings on UV protection, visit The Site King guide to eye protection.
Summer clothing at work
PPE refers to equipment or clothing that is designed to protect you from hazards. Regular workwear is not regarded as PPE
An employer has the responsibility to ensure employees are wearing the appropriate clothing. Lacerations and grazes can be reduced by wearing heavy duty clothing on the legs and body, this could also include t-shirts, polo shirts, shorts and work trousers.
T-Shirts and Polo Shirts can come in an array of variations. Wearing a breathable garment will increase the amount of airflow around the body to help ensure an employee stays cool in hot weather.
What about prescription sunglasses?
Prescription sunglasses are not required by law. This is because you can purchase over glasses which will provide the same protection on top of your prescription glasses.
Yes, sunglasses can be classed as PPE when they have a duty to protect. An employer will need to provide these to employees.