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One of the UK’s leading PPE providers is warning businesses about a worrying rise in the number of employees taking their technical workwear home to be washed.
phs Besafe, which offers specialist protective workwear and industrial laundry services, is seeing increasing reports of PPE being cleaned at home, in many cases along with family clothing and bedding.
“Not only is this dangerous for the employee and others that live with them, but it also poses a major risk to the business who have a legal responsibility to ensure that the PPE provided is cared for, maintained and fit for purpose,” said Derek Brown, Managing Director of phs Besafe.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 & 2022 state that ‘every employer shall ensure that any personal protective equipment provided to their employees is maintained (including replaced or cleaned as appropriate) in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
“When employees take their PPE home to be washed, you can no longer ensure it is being properly maintained or in good working order. You lose control of your PPE and your responsibilities,” added Derek Brown.
“Domestic washing and detergents can significantly reduce the effectiveness of specialist workwear’s protective qualities, putting employees at risk on the job.
“Home washing is not a substitute for an industrial laundry. It is unlikely to remove contaminates like oil or chemicals properly, meaning the wearer’s safety is compromised. It can also contaminate other items put in the wash with it, or after it, extending that risk to others in the home, as well as the liability of the business.
“In many cases, home washing is happening even when there is a laundry service in place. This means that workwear is not being inspected or repaired as needed, and businesses lose sight of the number of washes a garment has had or when it needs to be replaced, which is a dangerous position to be in.
“Businesses need to take control of their entire PPE process to ensure there are compliant with health and safety regulations. Providing training is a good place to start. Often it is a lack of understanding about the risks that is to blame.”
A survey by the European Textile Services Association found that only 1 in 4 people were concerned that workwear could contaminate their personal laundry and 58% of workers washing their workwear with their personal clothing on low temperature cycles. 50% also wore their work clothes when travelling to and from work.
“By making the risks clear with formal training in the workplace, the culture of home washing can be broken. Ensuring measures are in place on site to make removing and bagging workwear as convenient as possible will also help regain control of PPE and keep risks to employees and the business to a minimum,” advised Derek Brown.
phs Besafe offers a managed locker service which delivers freshly laundered garments directly to an employee’s locker, ready to wear. They also provide separate lockers for garments that need laundering, and storage for heavily soiled garments to be kept as they await collection.
phs Besafe is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of specialist workwear and laundry solutions. Its in-house laundry and drying processes are unique to the industry, offering a low energy, high quality service to sectors including transport, manufacturing, aggregate, and rail.
Part of the phs Group, phs Besafe employs 110 staff and provides a nationwide service to over 3,000 customers, making 156,000 deliveries every year. With a head office in Tipton and five laundry locations across the UK, it launders more than 1.2 million garments every year.
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