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March 2020

Shorts for summer

07 Feb 2020, Learn, Prove Your Know How, Safety

Site Safe gets a number of questions from people in the construction and building sector via their ‘Ask an Advisor’ website page. Under Construction takes a look at one such question that might be relevant to you and your crew this summer.

Question: “As a company, we supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is fit for the requirements of the role. However, we are being asked by staff if we will supply them with shorts for the summer.

“The people asking are a team based at a port and our cold store/yard team. Both teams are exposed to full-day varying weather conditions (currently the heat) and are in and out of forklifts, so I am concerned that some shorts are ill fitting and will catch when moving around equipment. In the winter months, we supply overalls.”

Site Safe’s advisor says: The choice of clothing fit for the job is a decision for the Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU). The PCBU must engage workers and involve them in any decisions affecting their health and safety and this includes clothing.

Your question specifically relates to supplying shorts. Note that these are generally considered to be standard clothing, not PPE, so, the PCBU is not obligated to supply them.

You are correct in identifying any risks that might arise. Poorly fitting clothing (with the potential to catch/snag while getting on and off plant) is potentially a risk but this applies to any ill-fitting clothing. The answer is to make sure that clothing provided fits correctly.

Other risks to consider:

  • Exposure to UV.
  • Exposure to projectiles or chemicals.
  • Exposure to sharp or abrasive surfaces.
  • Exposure to cold temperatures.

So, unless the shorts are being supplied for safety reasons, the PCBU is not obliged to provide them. However, you may decide to provide them and even make them part of a uniform or dress code. Before doing so, consider whether shorts are appropriate for the work activities and environment (based on risk assessment and consultation with workers).

There is more about PPE from WorkSafe here.

Site Safe is a not-for-profit, membership-based organisation that supports a culture of health and safety in New Zealand construction. For more information go to: www.sitesafe.org.nz


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