Each organization has different guidelines on what to wear while at work. Uniforms are important as they let an organization project an image to the general public of what they stand for and set general expectations.
What’s an appropriate uniform in some organizations would be highly irregular in others. For example a lawyer may wear a formal business suit, a tradesperson overalls and a surf lifesaver their swimwear. While the lawyer could still do their job wearing swimwear it would set a less than professional image of their organization to the general public and that could affect the organization in a negative light.
A dress code is an extension of a uniform policy and where a uniform policy covers what must be worn a dress code covers what shouldn’t be worn. This may include covering visible tattoos or piercings, rules on facial hair or the style of clothes. Every dress code is slightly different and it’s important to familiarise yourself with yours. Reach out to your line manager early on if you have dress code queries as it’s important to understand what is expected before buying what could be inappropriate clothing that you may not be able to wear.
While Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is usually something you wear it is different from a uniform and it’s purpose is different. PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and refers to anything used or worn to minimize risk to workers’ health and safety. This may include, boots, ear plugs, face masks, gloves, goggles, hard hats, high visibility clothing, respirators, safety harnesses, safety shoes, Sunscreen. Other forms of PPE exist but the defining factor for PPE over a uniform is that it has a primary purpose of safety.
When completing a task it is vital for both your safety and those around you to wear the appropriate PPE for the role, you will receive training for each of the PPE in your role detailing its use and how to use it. If a required piece of PPE is missing or damaged it is important that you let your line manager know ASAP and before starting the task.
Should you need to purchase your own PPE such as clothing it is important to keep records and liaise with your accountant as most PPE can be tax deductible
The management of an organization have a responsibility to provide appropriate PPE to their team, this PPE must be checked on a regular basis to ensure the PPE is both available and in good working order. The safety officer or profit protection team will be the best escalation point if you feel that PPE needs reviewing or changing.
Failure to supply appropriate PPE, training staff and maintain it in a good working order can result in a breach of OH&S regulations and is a safety requirement for each worksite.
In a worst case scenario if PPE is failed to be supplied in an appropriate manner and a team member suffers a fatality the maximum penalty is 25 years in jail in Victoria, other state workplace laws have similar penalties. Its imperative that PPE is given the utmost importance for everyone’s safety.