A study commissioned by the European Textile Services Association (ETSA) has found that washing workwear at home could partially or completely reduce the effectiveness of protective properties, thus jeopardising the wearer's safety
The survey, carried out by GFK, was conducted in Belgium, Germany, Poland and the UK. On average 80% of respondents said they washed all workwear at home - in the UK the figure was 92%.
It found that consumers favour low temperature washing, but washing workwear at inappropriate temperatures could reduce or even remove protective properties such as high visibility, fire retardancy or chemical repellance.
According to 47% of all respondents, employers only check the state of their workwear "from time to time" and such inspections mainly covered visual damage.
Even with correct washing, protective properties may start to reduce after an extended number of cycles, but professional laundries will keep full details of the number and type of processes for each garment and can re-treat them if necessary. This does not happen when employees wash workwear at home.
Employers need to fully understand the impact home washing can have on both their employees' occupational safety and their own liability, said ETSA. "They also need to be aware that a much safer option is provided by professional textile service firms."