Sunlight UV Ray Protective Properties Test Results on the New Royal Mail/Parcelforce Uniform Range Fabrics
As Branches will know, Royal Mail is currently rolling out the new uniform for postmen and women, OPGs, Parcelforce staff, Engineers and Fleet – in the first Uniform change in a decade. The new-look uniform, which includes walking trousers and shorts, tops, jackets, coats, gilets and headwear, has been based on discussions with the Union’s postal department and the health and safety department in relation to Uniform safety aspects and clothing, garments and footwear classed as ‘personal protective equipment’ under health and safety regulations. Frontline feedback from CWU members has also been taken fully into account in the re-design of the new Uniform and Footwear range. The uniform has been created to reflect the physical demands of the daily delivery round outdoors plus indoor, driving and technical worker duties. The new Uniform has been developed with the input of an experts in design, fabrics biomechanics and product development. The national rollout follows national joint trials.
With regards to outdoor workers, the health and safety department was extremely keen to obtain confirmation that the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating of the new Uniform garments/fabrics matched or surpassed the previous clothing range by providing effective shielding from harmful Sun UV rays, and as such preventing the rays from reaching the skin.
Garments with UPF 50 rating, for example, offer very good protection, allowing just 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to reach the skin whereas a thin cotton T-shirt with a UPF of around 5, allows a massive 1/5th of the sun’s UV rays to reach the skin.
One of the most important things to always bear in mind when it comes to sun protection is that ‘covering up’ is the most effective way of blocking the sun’s potentially harmful Ultraviolet ‘UV’ rays. Choosing the right kind of clothing fabrics to use as a ‘cover-up’ is key to helping keeping outdoor workers protected in the sun.
What many people don’t realise, however, is that not all clothing is made equal when it comes to sun protection. Some fabrics, colours, and cuts of clothing do not give the protection people might expect, which can cause our skin to be exposed to high levels of UV without us even realising. Choosing the right kind of clothing and fabrics to use as a cover-up is key to helping ensure outdoor workers are protected in the sun’s potentially harmful UV rays. There’s no point in covering up from head to toe if the clothing materials/fabrics won’t block out and protect wearers from the sun.
Looser weaves of fabric will give lower protection against the sun’s UV rays, as the gaps in the weave let the rays through. The type of thread, weave style, and even the finish of a fabric will all affect how much UV is reflected or absorbed by it.
At the request of the CWU Health and Safety Department, All the new Uniform fabrics have been ‘independently’ tested to the BS EN 13758-1 standard where the requirement is a minimum of 40 UPF, all fabrics have exceeded the British UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating.
I have attached the test reports for your perusal which shows the image of each product the test relates to, where products have a shared fabric base, Royal Mail Group have only tested it once. For example the image for the base layer fabric only shows the bottoms but the tops are also covered as they are made from the same fabric.
We just now need the business to agree to provide high factor (SPF) Sunscreen/Sunblock to the outdoor workforce to protect any exposed skin in weather like the current hot, sunny, high UV ray conditions where postal workers, working outdoors for many hours, should cover up exposed skin but will naturally want remove clothing layers to help achieve thermal comfort. A fresh claim for the provision has been submitted to Royal Mail Group for the provision of sunscreen to the outdoor workforce.
SEE ATTACHED PDF FILE COPIES OF THE “STAY SAFE IN THE SUN” (RM/PFWW/CWU/IOSH) POCKET CARD INFORMATION GUIDE AND POSTER.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
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