Personal Protective Equipment: Should you enforce dress codes at work?

By Joanna Weekes on October 11th, 2013
  1. Risk Management
  2. Workplace Safety

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Under health and safety legislation, your duty of care extends to ensuring the health and safety of your workers and the elimination of any risk to them as far as reasonably practicable.

If there is a recognised health and safety hazard regarding what your workers wear, for example wearing certain footwear, you can implement dress codes which require closed-toe shoes to be worn, and issue notifications to your staff reminding them of the need to comply with these codes.

Whether this is appropriate or not is dependent on the type of work environment that your workers operate in, and also the specific work tasks the worker is required to carry out. These are the two main factors which will affect whether there are identified hazards that creating and enforcing a dress code will help to minimise health and safety risk.

Work that requires Personal Protective Equipment

Of course, if the worker will be in an area where certain personal protective equipment is required to be worn through your workplace PPE policy, such as a construction site, you need to take stronger steps towards ensuring that workers comply with this requirement to wear certain items of PPE.

Remember, when a worker is carrying out work tasks which require the use of special equipment or clothing to help protect them from injury or illness, you need to have a PPE policy in place which includes the obligations of the worker to use the PPE, and includes methods for supervision, monitoring and enforcement. These steps are an important part of your company’s health and safety management system.

Common examples of work that may require the use of PPE include:

  • working in a workshop;
  • work conducted near roads or traffic;
  • working outdoors exposed to UV light; or
  • working near loud machinery

If you subscribe to the Health & Safety Handbook, you can find much more information regarding PPE in chapter P2 Personal Protective Equipment, including things like what your obligations are, when PPE should be used, duties of workers, and how to train workers and enforce your PPE policy.

If you are not yet a subscriber to the Health & Safety Handbook, you can find out about how it can benefit you and your workplace here.

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