Workwear Profile: Electrician. What you need.

Following on from our Workwear Profile of Plumbers a few weeks back, we thought it was time we shine a light on another trade that is full of live wires. Yes, if you hadn’t guessed already from all of our sparky puns we are of course talking about the world of electricians, those super skillful wire and cable enthusiasts who are always on hand to ensure the lights don’t go out.

So how do you plug into the industry and make it as a professional trader? Before you blow a fuse just thinking about it, let us guide you through the ins and outs of electrical services and tell you everything you need to know to start trading.

Make the switch

The job of an electrician can be varied to say the least. There are numerous different areas to work across from the more obvious installation and maintenance for commercial and residential properties through to more specialist lines of work. These include machine repair and rewind, electrotechnical panel building (the installation and operation of panels that control electrical systems within buildings), and highway systems electricians whose job it is to fit and maintain the street lighting and traffic management operations.

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By Shieldforyoureyes Dave Fischer (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Whereas in other trades those carrying out the work are overwhelmingly self-employed or working for a company catering specifically to that role, such as a Plumber, Electricians are employed by companies across a variety of industries. Case in point, the growth of the technology and media sectors here in the UK has required an increasing supply of electricians and engineers to deliver such services. Just think, where would companies like BT, Sky, Virgin Media be without skilled electricians to fit their fibre optic cables?

Bright spark

Like any skilled tradesmen, an electrician will be judged more on the job they do than a piece of paper. Yet no matter how much experience you may think you have, in order to maintain a high level of standards throughout the trade there is a minimum standard of qualification required before you can begin working.

As mentioned earlier, there are many areas of speciality within electrical services and probably just as many courses to boot. The combination of two City & Guilds NVQ qualifications in Electrotechnical Technology (the 2330) and in Electrotechnical Services and Systems (the 2356) provide a mix of both theory based training and hands-on experience often undertaken as part of an apprenticeship. This pairing is up to the level required to gain the status of a Joint Industry Board (JIB) Graded electrician, a mark of quality that will provide clients with the assurance that an electrical servicer is up to standard.

Stay current

Of course, as a specialist trader you need to send off the right signals. If you’re going to be scrabbling around tiny corners, crawling along the floorboards and working in a range of conditions both indoors and out, you need flexible workwear that not only looks good, but vitally can take the strain.

We suggest any hot young cable slingers out there first invest in a good pair of durable and comfortable work trousers such as the Fristads PS25, which also come with free knee pads when ordered via Performance Work Clothing.

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Image taken from Mount Pleasant Granary

Staying with Fristads, why not save yourself the endless task of reaching over to the toolbox by donning their Electrician’s Tool Holder, perfect for when you need quick access to a pair of pliers, cutters, or wire strippers. And to top it all off, we recommend a good warm jacket like the Helly Hansen Langley Fleece because even electricians have to work outside from time to time.

Think you’ve got the energy to be an electrician? Is it time to cut the cord from your current job and make an ohm for yourself in the trade? Wherever the current takes you, make sure to avoid a shock when kitting yourself out by heading to Performance Work Clothing for all the best deals on stylish hardwearing workwear.

5 essentials every construction worker should have in their toolbox

It goes without saying (although we’re gonna say it,) a construction worker needs their tools; from spanner sets to screwdrivers and all the varied attachments that they can come with.

We’ve all bought tools, accepting that it was closer to the impulse purchase of an electronic gadget than a necessity for our toolbox.

So what are the five items that no construction worker should be without? If the apocalypse were to happen tomorrow and all you’ve got to rebuild is one toolkit, what are the essentials that would make the job that much easier?

5. Measuring tape

Stanley PowerLock tape measure

By Flickr user redjar.Typhoon at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

When you’re slumming it for tools, you’d be surprised by how much you can improvise and create on your own. The one thing you can’t replace is an accurate measuring tape. You can estimate and approximate with your own ideas of length to a point but if we’re talking about creating a building to the same quality that you’re used to then measuring tape is a toolkit necessity.

This becomes even more important when working in teams, because there have been several engineering disasters that have occurred for no better reason than people weren’t working with the same measurements in mind. With so much necessity for precision, a workman isn’t complete without a good measuring tape.

4. Spirit Level

DetalleNivelDeBurbuja

By aTarom [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Again, it may not be a power tool or a steel wrench but it is precision that will be the most valuable commodity when you need to check if something is completely level, or creates an even corner. This is essential in the creation of walls, door frames, the foundation of most of our buildings.

Owning a spirit level has always been the epitome of manliness and separates those who own tools from those who can really work on a building. Being without one if you need to work without many other support items could be real disaster. Not only that, but none of your pictures will hang straight!

3. Adjustable Wrench

Beryllium Copper Adjustable Wrench

By Guy Immega (Guy Immega) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Finally a tool that would appear in a mainstream utility belt! The adjustable aspect of this wrench is all important, making it a versatile tool that can be an essential for plumbing and maintenance. They can be used to fasten any kind of nut and bolt and, if your wrench is adjustable enough, then you’ll be able to work with machinery of all sizes

2. Claw Hammer

Claw-hammer

By Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Few tools are more recognisable as a hammer and, though you could improvise with a strong, hardy implement/head, it is the claw attachment that makes this an essential. Not only can you join materials but the ability to remove misplaced nails is a real necessity. Bring together hammer and nails and you can create furniture, flooring, frames, roofing, all the ingredients for a sturdy (if basic) homestead.

Alternatively, a roofing hammer is a versatile tool that offers the same brunt force that hammers specialise in, and also has a claw attachment to pull up misplaced nails. They also offer specialisation in roofing tiles, something that would be of great use if you’re building new houses from scratch.

1. Wood Saw

Hand saw - small

By Pily_platnice.jpg: Mnemosine derivative work: Bigforrap (Pily_platnice.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

After our creation of the hammer, saws were a quick second for tool necessities. The first daw artifacts date back to ancient Egypt because we’ve been needing to work with wood since the dawn of time. Giving you the ability to work with raw materials and change their shape and size as you see fit, this is a basic necessity for any construction work.

Not only for wood, a saw can help you break down many different kinds of material, including metal if you’ve got the right type and don’t mind taking your time over it. You may end up working for longer but there are few tools that offer the versatility

A tool kit with all these essentials is able to see you through most basic construction jobs, big or small. No power tools, no advanced technology at all, just ancient tools and plenty of elbow grease.

So, do you agree with our choices? What tools could you absolutely not do without? Let us know below.

Celebrities who used to be construction workers

The world of the rich and famous is full of celebrities who used to be construction workers. Slogging on site might be less glamorous than walking the red carpet, but perhaps learning an honest trade helps lay the foundations for future success. Let’s take a look at some famous faces who don’t mind getting their hands dirty…

Harrison Ford

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After struggling to make ends meet as a jobbing actor, Ford became a self-taught carpenter to support his then-wife and two sons. He was nearly thirty at the time, but soon amassed a star-studded client list that included American rockers, The Doors, actor Richard Dreyfuss and bandleader Sergio Mendes. Whenever he came across a problem, he’d simply borrow a carpentry book from the local library.

In the early seventies, he was hired to build cabinets in the office of a certain George Lucas. The pair’s relationship blossomed, and Lucas cast him in supporting roles for American Graffiti (1973) and The Conversation (1974), before his breakthrough as Hans Solo in Star Wars (1977) – a starring role which helped him become the most famous carpenter since biblical times.

Whoopi Goldberg

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As a young, aspiring  actor, Goldberg became a bricklayer to help pay the bills. Speaking in a Telegraph interview, she revealed: ‘I needed money and I needed to work… I figured I would rather lay bricks than lay men for money.’

She built walls surrounding the San Diego zoo, and was so well-respected that she was soon invited to join the bricklayer’s union. The multi-talented star has since turned her hand to a variety of starring roles on stage and screen.

George Clooney

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One of Clooney’s earlier and less well-known roles was playing construction worker Joe in American sitcom Baby Talk, which ran for two seasons in the early nineties. What’s even less well-known is, in the late seventies and early eighties, he would work on real building sites to pay for acting classes. The hard graft helped to fund his craft, and this surely cements Clooney’s status as the most manly man in Hollywood.

Kathryn Bigelow

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Before becoming an Academy Award-winning director, Bigelow made a living renovating property. She graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1972, and soon moved to Manhattan where she bought a run-down apartment, did it up, and sold it on for profit. This venture continued, putting her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree to use by giving distressed properties huge makeovers, before she moved on to a master’s in film at Columbia University.

Ian Wright

He may have gone on to play for England and break goal scoring records for Arsenal, but Wright worked as a plasterer until the age of 21. A relative late-starter in the professional game, he was spotted playing for non-league Greenwich Borough, and his humble beginnings made him all the more appreciative when Crystal Palace finally signed him. The physical nature of the job helped Wrighty become the powerful striker that crowds on the terraces loved.

 

Photo Credits:

Harrison Ford – By John Griffiths (originally posted to Flickr as Indy’s Back) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Whoopi Goldberg – By David Shankbone (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

George Clooney – By Vinya [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Kathryn BigelowJoe Mabel [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Workwear Profile: Plumber. What you need.

What do Sir Michael Caine, Ozzy Osbourne, and Super Mario all have in common? Well, apart from being legends of film, music, and video games respectively they have all, at some point in their careers, worked as a plumber. Ok, so I know what you’re thinking, just because the Prince of Darkness did it that still doesn’t make plumbing very rock n roll.

Yet, for what it lacks in glamour, the life of a plumber can be a very lucrative one. With recent reports stating that the United Kingdom is experiencing a drastic fall in the number of skilled tradesmen, there’s never been a better time to set up shop as a self-employed plumber.

Mario

Of course, these highly sought after skills don’t come overnight, so for those looking to enter the industry we’ve put together an introductory guide to what you need to get started.

Still water runs deep

As with every skilled trade, plumbers are subject to a series of laws and regulations to ensure levels of safety and standards. Anyone working as a plumber within the UK must abide by The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, introduced to improve not only the installation and service carried out by tradesmen and women, but also to counteract wastage and misuse of water.

The governing body that oversees our plumbing workforce is the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), which also runs the UK’s first quality assurance scheme, Watersafe. Providing punters with a dedicated online search of its ‘quality assured’ members, Watersafe is a scheme that is certainly worth signing up for, especially if you are self-employed and still making your name in the field.

Under pressure

While it is relatively easy to start a new business as a plumber, the level of work you will be able to take on is largely determined by your qualifications. The minimum requirement to begin trading is between levels 2 to 3 at NVQ based upon experience, however, further qualifications may be needed depending on whether you are working mainly in homes, industrial, or commercial locations.

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There are numerous privately run courses out there catering to the training of plumbers, heating engineers, and other such trades. While many may be reputable, there are also a fair share of horror stories, so we suggest you stick with an institution you can trust such as the City & Guild’s Plumbing and Domestic Heating (6189) course, which is on offer throughout the UK.

Stoked not soaked

Your knowledge of the rules and regulations are watertight, and you’re bursting with know-how and enthusiasm. But hang on a minute – plumbers are highly skilled tradesmen and women, they don’t just go around in any old raggedy clothes. What you need now is the right kit to look and feel the part.

Like we always say here at Workwearman, start with your staples. By this we don’t mean stationary, but the key pieces of clothing and gear you need for your daily work routine. A smart and durable pair of work trousers such as Fristads FAS Cotton Work Trousers with Cordura Knee Pockets are a definite must, while their Colourline Series Overalls come in very handy for bigger, messy jobs.

Chances are you will also drop a spanner or two in your lifetime, so we also suggest investing in a solid pair of footwear with protective toe-capping like the Haix Airpower X11 Protective Safety Boot.

For anyone working in cities, parking will always prove a problem. Chances are you won’t always be able to find a space right outside the job, so any piece of gear that helps eliminate numerous trips to the van is always welcome. More like a Tardis than a toolkit, the Carhartt Tool Bag with Molded Base is a compact and functional storage solution, while accessories such as the Fristads Leather Service Pouch come in-handy.

In the pipeline

As with any new career, you’re always going to hit some rough water along the way. Unlike other professions however, trades such as plumbing involve a considerable amount of training and experience, so anyone thinking they can just dip their toe in the water should think again.

Our advice is to do your research and once you’re ready to take the plunge pay a visit to Performance Work Clothing to grab all your gear (Mario-style dungarees optional).

Are you a plumber? What advice would you give to people looking to get into the trade? Let us know below. And come say hi to us on Twitter too.

Photo Credits:

Mario – by 顔なし via Flickr under CC license 2.0

Pincers – via Pixabay

The five biggest construction jobs ever

Putting up a shelf is one thing, building a house another. But some construction feats are just (sometimes literally) out of this world. Here are some of the biggest and best.

Crossrail

The biggest current construction project in Europe and one of the largest ever in the UK, Crossrail is the first completely new underground project built in 30 years. Using eight giant tunnelling machines (imported from Germany, of course), tunnelling started in May 2012 and is expected to be finished some time in 2018.

Over 26 miles (42km) needs to be dug out in total with the team currently three quarters of the way through. A total of 7.3 million m³ of material will be excavated, using two kinds of tunnel boring machine (TBM), one for chalk soils and another for the heavy clay soils.

TBM_S-210_Alptransit_Faido_East

Each TBM weighs around 1000 tonnes and will be up to 140m in length to allow for the concrete tunnel sections to be inserted. At the front of the TBM is a full face cutter head which rotates at around 1-3 rpm. As the TBM advances forward the cutter head excavates the ground.

The loosened material is removed from the cutter head via a screw conveyor, which moves the material through the back of the TBM and out of the tunnel via a conveyor belt. The excavated material is expected to be clean and uncontaminated and most of it will be used to create a bird sanctuary in Hornsea Island. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Sagrada Familia

You know that DIY project you got started on a while ago? The one you haven’t quite managed to finish yet, for whatever reason? Maybe it’s wallpapering the spare room or re-carpeting the hallway. Now imagine you started that project over 130 years ago and you’re not expecting to finish until 2041. Here’s what it’ll look like by the way

Bear in mind that your little project has run so far over budget that you’ve lost track of how much it has cost so far (although you spent €18 million in 2009 alone) and you have a little taste of what the Spanish architect, Gaudi instigated when he was started building the Sagrada Familia in 1882.

The church in Barcelona took up so much of his life that he didn’t pay enough attention when crossing the road and got killed by a tram. Admittedly you probably don’t have the excuse of a civil war to justify your delay in putting up those shelves, but if the giant sculpture/church can take over 130 years, you have time for another cuppa.

Sydney Opera House

When it comes to memorable constructions, not many can beat the iconic Opera House in Sydney Harbour. It has come to be one of the defining images of a nation alongside strange animals, sports and casual racism. The Sydney Opera House’s construction cost $AUS 102 million (£60 million) which seems quite reasonable for a building that is 185 metres long and 120 metres wide, until you remember this was Australia in the 60’s and the original estimated cost was $AUS 7 million (£4.1 million).

Despite budgetary indulgence, what makes it all the more special is that it one of those occasions where the architects vision actually looks in some way like the inspiration behind it, with the 2,194 re-cast concrete sections that weigh up to 15 tonnes each perfectly representing sails; from a certain angle at least. The sails were built using cranes made specifically for the job in France, each costing $AUS 100,000 (£59,000) and covered in over a million tiles made in Sweden. So basically made in Europe and shipped to Oz, which probably explains why it looks so good.

International Space Station (ISS)

This next project was the equivalent to building a six-bedroom house. Were you expecting a bit more? OK, there is a catch…the building site was 370 km above the surface of the Earth and it was constructed while travelling at around 17,240mph. This goes some way to explain why the International Space Station (ISS) is the single most expensive object ever made by mankind with an astronomical (see what I did there) cost of over $150billion and rising.

STS-133_International_Space_Station_after_undocking_5

It’s made up of 15 pressurised modules, with four large solar panel arrays attached. Its total area is bigger than a football pitch and it weighs over 400 tons. This structure took 136 trips on seven different kinds of spacecraft to get all the kit together, which makes driving back to the builders merchant after you’ve forgotten something not seem so bad now, I guess.

So far over 340 different astronauts have visited the ISS and it was host to the first ever space tourist, by the name of  Dennis Tito, a Californian millionaire and entrepreneur. 15 countries including USA, Russia, the UK and France worked together to achieve this spectacular monument to what can happen when you just stop the messing about and get down to work.

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal  is a 48 mile ship canal that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It cuts across Panama and is a key conduit for international seafaring trade. At each end are locks, 33.5 metres (110 ft) wide, to lift ships up to Gatun Lake.An artificial lake created 26 metres (85 ft) above sea level, Gatun was constructed to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, A third, wider lane of locks is currently under construction and is due to open in 2015.

Work began on the canal in 1881, but had to stop because of engineering problems and high mortality due to disease – over 26,000 workers have lost their lives building the monstrous waterway – and when the United States took over the project in 1904, it still took a further decade to complete it. One of the most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, it took more than 27,000 tons of dynamite to excavate and construct the waterway.

The Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the amount of time taken for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, enabling them to avoid the lengthy, hazardous route around the Cape Horn of South America. The shorter, faster, and safer route saves 7,872 miles to the US West Coast and to nations around the Pacific Ocean; allowing them to become more integrated with the world economy. The approximate time to traverse the canal is between 20-30 hours but the fastest ever journey was done in a hydrofoil in 2hrs 41 in 1979.

No matter what type of construction you’re into, you always need the right gear. Check out our website for all you workwear requirements. And why not say hi on Twitter too?

Photo Credits:

Tunnel boring machine – By Cooper.ch 16:58, 19 September 2006 (UTC) (Own work), CC-BY-SA-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons
La Sagrada Familia – By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
International Space Station – By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m new here: How to cope with your first visit to the construction site

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Check the cone-tract: High heels are a definite no-no, and don’t start fannying about with cones

For the uninitiated, the idea of a visit to a construction site can be daunting. Away from the relative comforts of the office, you’re exposed not only to the elements but the people upon whose broad shoulders your business depends.

Sure, you may be pulling the strings of the whole operation, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, this is their turf. Put bluntly, how can you stay in touch with your people on the ground without coming across like a wally?

First, let’s get one thing straight: construction sites are, by their very nature, not the tidiest of places to work. It’s time to loosen that tie and hang up the waistcoat in favour of something a little more practical.

Before you go overboard and start buying up all the hi-viz gear in sight, take a moment to think about what you really want your clothes to say about you as a boss or manager. You need workwear that is more practical and approachable but with a touch of style and sophistication.

Say for example you’re looking to get a pair of trousers for a site visit, instead of going for the more technical Fristads Prostretch (there’s no way you’re going to need all those pockets just to hold your iPhone) opt instead for the simple, clean cut of the Carhartt Washed Duck Work Pant. To finish it off, pair with a smart but casual Acode Polo shirt in either short or long sleeve.

Time to acclimatise

In any line of business, maintaining an air of authority is always important. However, stomping around a dusty or sodden construction site with your suit trousers tucked into a pair of trousers just won’t do. When out on site you’re at the mercy of the weather, so it’s important to be prepared for whatever mother nature can throw at you.

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For the colder months, a flexible rain and windproof jacket or fleece is an ideal item to have in your wardrobe. Once again, it’s all about not overcomplicating the matter. Ranges such as Fristads Pro Service Softshell and Helly Hansen Minto Micro Fleece Jacket are just the ticket for staying warm, dry and suitably stylish.

If footwear is also a concern, we suggest versatile workwear boots such as the V-Tech Hiker Storm Boot, whose durable yet lightweight materials mean it is great both on and off the site.

People are people

Entering any new workplace can seem intimidating, but when it comes to the construction site don’t be taken in by the stereotypes. Sure, there’s plenty of banter flying around, however, this is nothing worse than you’re likely to hear in an office.

With your wardrobe in check thanks to Performance Work Clothing, all you need to worry about is being yourself. No matter where you are based, if you’re confident and passionate about what you’re doing people will have respect for you and your role within the business.

So next time you step onto a construction in your finest workwear, remember that whether you’re bricklaying or business leading you’re all in it together.

And don’t start messing around with forklifts either…

For all your workwear needs, head over to the Performance Work Clothing website.

Workwear profile: Roofer

Of all construction jobs, roofing is perhaps the most dangerous. According to the The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) Data Center, falls from roofs account for one-third of fall fatalities from 1992-2009 in the US. 

While no equivalent stats are available in the UK, the number of personal injury companies aiming their services at the trade are certainly telling.

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Heavy lifting coupled with heights, unstable materials and inclement weather is a potential recipe for disaster. While we wouldn’t recommend roofing in the middle of winter, if you get an emergency call out for a mid-December leak, what can you do?

Summer is certainly more forgiving, but still dangers exist. So what are the absolute essentials to keep you safe and sound? Well….

The Essentials

  • Occupational_Safety_EquipmentAlthough it’s annoying, hard hats must be worn if at risk from falling or flying objects. We know that most of the time there’s nothing but aircraft and cr*pping birds above you, but when ducking under scaffolding and handling items above head height, it’s highly recommended.
  • If you wear prescription glasses, they won’t cut it alone. Use safety glasses or protective goggles to stop glass from shattering.
  • Hearing protectors are necessary if working in loud environments above 85 dB.
  • To prevent breathing solvents, dust, or other nasties, respiratory protection may be needed. Air purifying respirators are the most common type for roofers.
  • High visibility jackets are legally meant to be worn on site when working around moving vehicles. Although it’s uncommon to get run over by a cement mixer whilst on a roof, they help signify that you belong on the site and aren’t plundering people’s lunchboxes and glove boxes instead.

What you’ll need

sum_06    For Summer:-

During bright days it’s vital to avoid overexposure to sunlight; make sure you’re well slathered in sunscreen (ensuring your hands aren’t slippy afterwards,) and drink lots of water too; partially because it’s good for you but, also, fainting on a roof can have nasty consequences. You might squash an earwig when you land, and that earwig’s probably got kids.

The Clothes

  • Shirts with long sleeves and collars will stop the sun catching. Make sure they are slim fitting so as not to get caught on anything.
  • If longsleeves are too hot, a polo shirt will still offer vital sun protection with it’s collar.
  • Shorts can be worn if it’s allowed on your worksite, but remember that long trousers are designed to protect bare skin against cuts and grazes that can easily be obtained when working in such an environment.

The Gear

  • To combat knocks and splinters, try wearing knee pads with your shorts to keep cool but stay protected.
  • Safety glasses should be used instead of sunglasses because they provide proper protection in the case of flying particles causing them to splinter or pop out. Look for the marking “ANSI Z87.1” on the frame, arms and eyepieces.

The Shoes

  • As long as there’s no risk of impaling your foot on a nail, athletic soles are fine. Look for good ankle support, strong materials and a slip resistant sole.

winter    For Winter:-

Winter as a roofer can be unforgiving, the baltic winds and slippery ice can be spine-tinglingly dangerous, especially when up high where losing your concentration could be life threatening.

The Clothes

  • Thermal underlayers will protect against the chilliest wind. Layer these on top of each other and you’ll be nice and toasty.
  • A close fitting quilted coat will keep you insulated on the iciest of winter days.
  • A waterproof and windproof coat is also a necessity knowing the unpredictable weather. Try our Gore-Tex Range. There’s nothing worse than being battered by wind and rain at the same time, so make sure you have something that’ll stand up to it.
  • Long trousers that leave no exposed skin will protect against cuts and scratches. A close fitting cut will prevent snagging. Wearing thermal trousers underneath waterproof trousers will be the failsafe option to keeping your legs warm.

The Gear

  • Wearing a hat underneath your helmet will help insulate your head and stop heat loss so that you can make those tricky decisions at altitude.
  • When the wind and rain is knuckle freezingly cold, builders’ gloves will help to stop you dropping your tools. Look for something waterproof and streamline with elasticated cuffs and a seamless lining.

The Shoes

  • Slip resistant shoes with proper ankle support are a must. Wind and rain can make ground level dangerous, let alone rooftops, so opt for something waterproof and durable in the wet weather.
  • You can buy insulating soles to keep your feet warm, and don’t forget to wear thermal socks too to keep your toes warm.

Anything Else?

Now that we’ve got that covered, what else might you need?

A tool belt can be a lifesaver when everything needs to be in once place. Not only will it stop you leaving objects lying around that could become hazardous at height, but it’ll make you feel like a cowboy when you pull your hammer. Yeeee-ha!

Knee pads are great at stopping bumps and grazes when manoeuvring around tricky assault courses. With chimneys, beams and scaffolding all on the list, saving your knees the pain will keep you in the game. Hey, here’s a video on how not to do it.

Safety harnesses will keep you safely rooted. Nobody wants to be falling through space like George of the Jungle. Strap yourself into a fall protection kit to keep your feet planted where they’re meant to be.

So there we are, how to be the ultimate roofer. Just don’t get too carried away with the tool belt and safety harness.

 

Photo Credits:

Roofer – Greens MPs via photopin cc
Hard hat and gloves – image source as Compliance and SafetyCC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Workwearman Thing: The Carhartt Jacket

It’s a lie that nothing lasts forever. If a design works and keeps on working, why shouldn’t it last?

That’s the story behind the classic Chore Jacket by Carhartt. Supplied the same way for nearly a century, the Chore design has survived four generations of craftsmen and is the gold standard in the workwear industry. Here’s why.

Made from heavyweight cotton and held together by triple-stitching and riveted seams, the Chore is famously tough. This is workwear that will shrug off anything you can chuck at it. Working through the winter? Under that 12oz ‘Dearborn’ cotton is a blanket inner by 3M and cotton quilted-sleeves to keep you Thermos-warm.

CAR

Need to stretch and manoeuvre at work? The thick cotton outer may need breaking in initially but once it is, it’s tough but forgiving. The Chore is also split at the back and cut wide across the chest and waist to allow for ease of movement. Four outer pockets and one internal pocket keep tools handy, and there are snaps under the cord collar to attach a hood. Bear in mind that because the Chore is manufactured in the US, it carries US-sizing. We recommend choosing a size smaller than you usually would when trying one on.

Everything on a Chore coat matters. That’s because a century of Carhartt knowledge has been poured into it. First produced by the American firm in 1923, the Chore design drew on a workwear heritage that already stretched back more than 30 years. Founded by Hamilton Carhartt, the company started by supplying uniforms for railroad workers in the Motor City, Detroit.

They quickly made a name for themselves by focussing on durability and comfort for workmen, using technical materials that could outlast the career of even the hardest-worker. That included men who liked setting themselves on fire or rolling around on upturned nails, thanks to flameproof and abrasion-resistant fabrics. 125 years later, Carhartt are still working from their original headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

1900 line drawings

If the Chore seems expensive at first, that’s because the coat is virtually guaranteed to outlast you. “Carhartt will always remain the badge of a better buy to those who know the value of money” said Mr Hamilton Carhartt back in the nineteenth-century.

The same is true today, and if the fact that Carhartt quality standards aren’t enough to persuade you, it’s good to know that having stuck to the same design through two world wars, three economic depressions and the New York Hip-Hop scene of the 1980s , Carhartt has found its cool with the design.

In 1997 the brand launched Carhartt WIP (Work in Progress) for those wearing Carhartt workwear for their classic style, and whose idea of a ‘Chore’ was less work, more going to the shops. Recent collaborations with the likes of A.P.C mean Carhartt’s credentials stretch beyond workwear and into styled menswear. We guarantee that once you’ve tried it, you won’t want to take the Chore off anyway. Find it online here.

Women’s Workwear: A Mini-Guide

Tired builder woman with hammer and helmet indoors

Without wanting to be presumptuous, we’re pretty sure this girl has never seen a building site before

Commonplace or a contentious issue? In many ways, it feels rather old-hat to still be talking about the role of women in the construction industry and trades in such polarised terms. Yet, while many in the industry are more than keen to adopt the latest equipment and workwear, it seems their outlook on life could do with a bit of an update.

Despite such attitudes, companies such as Pink Plumbers are proving that sex and gender make no difference when it comes to getting the job done. So, with this in mind, we thought it was time someone gave the low down on the options available for women in search of sturdy, stylish work clothing.

Unlike the fashion industry, where the number of women’s outlets and designs far outstrip those aimed at men, the choice of workwear on offer is very one sided. As Katie Metcalf, Senior Associate at independent construction and property consultancy Gardiner & Theobald LLP explains “I have faced rather smaller, persistent frustrations, such as never being able to find a pair of site boots less than three sizes too big”.

While this may not be such a problem when it comes to the more unisex items such as overalls, flame retardant workwear, or hi-viz, there’s no denying that’s there’s long been a gap in the market. Thankfully, some brands are starting to sit up and take notice and though the range may not be hugely extensive, companies such as Acode and Fristad do offer a fantastic selection of clothing specifically designed for women.

Cut From The Same Cloth

So what’s the difference between male and female work clothing? Well, if we’re being honest, not much. The styles are very much similar to those of men’s workwear differing mainly in the fit and sizes available.

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Modelling 101: Point and stare into the distance.

Of course, not everyone wants to drown in an old baggy t-shirt and jeans, and that’s where the Acode range of Polo shirts and Jackets come in handy. As with men’s work trousers, Swedish manufacturer Fristads have got it covered, supplying a variety of practical and durable items such as the Cordura Crafts and Prostretch womens trousers.

Always Read The Label

A word of warning: much of the Scandinavian designed womenswear, such as those by Fristads, come in sizes that are suited more to taller and slender figures. If you require any specific information regarding sizing and measurements, we recommend contacting the friendly staff at Performance Work Clothing and they’ll hook you up with all the latest in work clothing and gear.

 Are you a female in the construction industry? What are your main issues when buying workwear? Let us know below.

 

Photo Credits:

On site: Used with permission of The University Of Salford

Safety Boots: Workwearman’s Big Ol’ Guide

75,000 employees have suffered injuries at work last year, the most common due to slips, trips and falls according to Health and Safety statistics.The bones in the feet are notoriously delicate and can take weeks to heal, so it’s essential that they’re well protected; if you’re self-employed, weeks off work means losing cash.

Cue the safety boot.

These sturdy companions will see you through a busy day at work, whether you’re on the construction site, working on an oil rig, or running up and down ladders They can withstand freezing temperatures, and equally keep your feet cool in the heat. So lace up, and let’s have the low-down on safety boots.

work boots

What to Look For

For every trades-person, it’s important to check the legal guidelines to footwear first. The official requirements on the building site, for instance, are for workers to wear shoes or boots that have puncture-resistant soles, are slip resistant and have toe protection, specifically when working around falling objects or heavy equipment.

The main concerns therefore, should be a steel or composite toe cap and reinforced mid-sole. These will protect your fragile toes if you drop something heavy on your foot. Non-slip soles can help prevent nasty falls, anti-static will protect against electric shocks, and thermo-insulation will keep your feet warm when it’s cold outside.

Performance Work Clothing offer a huge range of work boots (you could say we’re *ahem* sole traders. Sorry.) Here are three of the best.

The Super Boots

V Tech Defiant Boot E1300The Defier – V Tech Defiant Boot E1300

Developed with the help of the leading oil and gas companies, these boots are built for the rig. Lightweight and comfortable, but heavy hitting on features, these babies boast a replaceable energy returning footbed which enhances their superior cushioning system for long lasting comfort and support, zip side with storm flaps and exemplary anti-slip qualities. They are also 100% metal free to prevent electrical charge, are stitched with Kevlar for added strength, and yes, they do come in black.

v1219-storm-[2]-154-pThe All-Rounder – V Tech Hiker Storm Boot V1219

From construction, to agriculture, to waste management, these will keep you dry and offer vital support whilst doing so. Easily mistaken for a walking boot, these beauties are sturdy characters. Designed to be lightweight, breathable and wearable season-round, they’re also fully waterproof and capable of handling very tricky terrain.

v-tech-airflow-extreme-trainer-vx004-219-pThe Nimble Footer – V Tech Airflow Extreme Trainer VX004

If heavy duty isn’t the right spec, then these safety trainers are built to keep feet feeling light and fresh. With countless ‘air’ named features, they regulate airflow to keep your feet cool all day long. Perfect for electricians or warehouse workers.

How To Care For Them

Cleaning:

  • Leather should be cleaned with a damp cloth or sponge and polished regularly.

  • Composite material footwear should be sprayed off with water before cleaning.

  • Use a suitable protector to maintain water resistance.

  • Stuff with newspaper and leave to dry naturally when wet to avoid leather cracking.

Maintenance Top Tips:

  • Wear appropriate socks. They will ensure footwear lasts longer by wicking away moisture from feet keeping boots fresh and dry. Try these, they’re also darn comfy.

  • Invest in two pairs to use on rotation. They’ll last twice as long.

Knowing When to Replace:

  • If you have dropped something heavy on them, it may damage the toe protector which might not spring back or protect you the next time. Always try to replace them if they take a blow just to be on the safe side.

  • If cracks or stress marks appear, then it could compromise how waterproof the boot is. In this case you won’t be protected from the elements, or hazardous chemicals.

  • If the heel and sole wear away, then the grip won’t be good enough to protect you across slippy or dangerous surfaces.

So there you have it, the big ol’ guide to work boots. What to look for, what we’ve got, and how to care for them. Protecting your feet has never been easier with this simple guide.

Photo Credit:

Flower boots: © Copyright Peter Trimming and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.