Home truths

21 December 2017

Berendsen discusses the dangers of washing workwear at home

As an employer, naturally you are concerned about the health and safety of your employees. This is also required by EU legislation. These obligations include providing employees with certified protective clothing and other personal protective equipment. 

Although not everyone is fully aware of this, that same legislation obliges employers to also guarantee the quality of workwear throughout its life cycle. However, experience has shown that the proper maintenance of workwear is often left to the discretion of employees. Unfortunately, this is not without risk. 

Market study into home washing of workwear

The GfK is an organisation dedicated to global market studies. They have conducted a study into consumer behaviour with regard to washing workwear at home. The results show that this can have negative consequences for the protective properties of workwear and compromise the safety of the wearer. 

The study revealed the following reasons to refrain from washing workwear at home:

    •    Washing workwear at home does not guarantee that all stains and dirt will be adequately removed without affecting the protective properties of the clothing. For example, dark stains on high visibility clothing make it more difficult to see your employee.

    •    Washing this clothing at home can affect the effectiveness of the protective qualities of this clothing to a significant degree. This jeopardises the safety of the wearer. Chemical protective clothing, for example, must be retreated after washing. This is not possible when washing the clothing at home, which means that the protective properties will be washed out after 5 to 10 washes.

    •    When workwear is washed at home, it is not inspected and/or treated as it would be when washed by a professional or industrial laundry facility. Many protective properties, such as chemical protection or the visibility of reflective stripes, cannot be checked by the naked eye. The clothing may appear to be safe, but is actually not.

    •    When washing workwear at home, there is no registration of how often the item is washed or other information that is essential for determining when the item should be replaced.

As an employer, naturally you want your employees to work as safely as possible. Hopefully, this information will make it easier for you to decide whether or not to assume responsibility for workwear maintenance or to outsource this work.