Saturday, 1 August 2015

Hearing protection – what should I choose?

Risk assessments should involve understanding the level of noise within the working environment. Sound measuring can be used to select the type of hearing protection that is required but as a guide we have listed the main features that should be considered when selecting the solution:-

Remember when reviewing the requirements that noise energy doubles every 3dB – it is not a linear scale….

So what should I choose?

The European Physical Agents (Noise) Directive 2003/10/EC came into force in 2006. In simple terms, the Directive requires that hearing protection should be available at 80dB, and must be worn at 85dB. As a rough guide, when it is necessary to shout in order to be heard 1 meter away the noise levels may be 85dB or more.

Firstly, ensure that the product conforms to EN352. There are three basic standards to take into account. When selecting the ear defenders you must ensure that the products are certified to one of the following standards:-

Ear Muffs EN 352-1:
Ear-Muffs: Two ear cups that are filled with sound absorbing foam. Each cup has a soft pad that is either foam or foam and liquid filled. The ear cups are held in place with a tensioned neckband or headband.

Ear Plugs EN 352-2:
Ear-Plugs that are inserted into the ear canal to seal the entrance.

Helmet Mounted Ear Defenders EN 352-3:
Ear defenders that are designed to be attached to industrial safety helmets. They are adjustable, so they can be positioned over the ear when required.

There are additional standards for more specific products as follows:-

EN352-4: Level dependent ear muffs.
EN352-5: Active noise reduction ear muffs.
EN352-6: Ear muffs with electrical audio input.
EN352-7: Level dependent ear plugs.
EN352-8: Entertainment audio ear muffs.

SNR (Single number rating).
This is the number of potential decibels the hearing protection will reduce the noise by when correctly fitted.

The objective is to select a suitable product that reduces the wearer’s noise level down to between 70dB & 80dB. To reduce the noise level to below 70dB may impair the wearer from hearing any alarm or warning sounds.

HML (relates to frequency)
H=High.  M=Medium.    L=Low.  This relates to how the product performs within these general frequency bands. The values of each of these (attenuation levels) will be located on the product packaging. Note that a SNR of 27 will not necessarily be attributable to all frequency levels – this should be considered when selecting a product for a specific frequency.


The ear is very delicate. The damage that can be caused is often non-recoverable. Figures from HSE show that during 2006/7 280 instances of work related hearing loss were diagnosed. However, as hearing loss is cumulative over a period of years, many individuals will not realise that their hearing is being affected.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Arc Protection with Granite Workwear

The risk posed by electricity on the rail network is made clear by Network Rail’s Life Saving Rules.

Three rules deal specifically with electricity: never assume equipment is isolated - always test before touch, with an approved method, this is not Scalextrix, you do not test with any part of your anatomy!

Always test before applying earths or straps and always be sure the required plans and permits are in place before you start a job or go on, or near, the line.

The consequences of not following these steps when working around 25 KV overhead lines is all too real. But even when all the rules are followed, accidents can occur. Equipment failure is another real risk.

The majority of orange fire resistance (FR) work-wear being used on the rail network today does not comply with the GO’RT 3279 high visibility standard, even though they include silver reflective tape in the EN configuration.

Two new products

Pulsarails Combat Coverall and Combat Trouser are flame retardant, anti- static and electric arc protective and comply with GO/RT 3279.

Using a patented Protex multi-fibre blend - Protal 5, the range has a 16 Cal/ cm2 ATPV rating, virtually double the performance of the next market-leading fabric. Combined with the Xcelcius Electric Arc Base Layers, the level of protection increases to 42.6 Cal/cm2.

Some of the benefits of Protal 5 include excellent breathability and wicking properties, as well as an enhanced electric arc performance because of its ability to shed the metal electrodes from an arc blast. When welding, it sheds sparks and molten metal, extending the life expectancy of the coverall.
Unlike all of its current competitors it also has excellent abrasion resistance.

On top of its safety credentials, the Combat Coverall has been designed with the wearer in mind. The coverall includes breast, combat and rear pockets, an elasticated waist and adjustable cuffs. The triple stitched inside leg, front and rear rise seams, and five extra crotch bar tacks reduces the risk of splitting.

Other features include non- conductive plastic studded wrap around cuffs, a front storm flap - which conceals a two-way plastic zip, internal knee pad pockets and double stitched FR reflective tape in the chevron design.

The Combat Trouser has all the attributes of the Combat Coverall but with a slightly elasticated waistband and triple press stud fastening and zip fly.

To be worn in conjunction with the Pulsar FR Combat Trouser, the Pulsar FR high-visibility orange Class 3, GO/ RT 3279, flame retardant polo shirt incorporates 3M Scotchlite thermally- applied reflective tape, FR collar and cuffs, and concealed three button placket.

If it gets a little chilly, then why not layer up with the Pulsar FR high visibility orange Class 3, GO/RT 3279, flame retardant sweatshirt. Again, both garments are manufactured using a Protal blend of FR fibres to guarantee the highest level of performance without compromising on comfort or fit.

The Xcelcius Electric Arc Base Layers are manufactured from a knitted Protal- blend and comply with EN11612 (FR), EN1149 (AST) and IEC61482 (Arc) standards. Both top and bottoms have a 9.2 Cal/cm2 ATPV rating. When worn in conjunction with the double- layer balaclava, it ensures maximum next-to-skin protection. All styles incorporate red contrast FR thread.

Granite Workwear is probably the largest stock-holder in the country of Pulsar and Pulsarail products. If we don’t have it in stock then it’s probably not in the country!

We  are also a RISQS accredited supplier to the Rail Industry.

Friday, 1 May 2015

New GO/RT Clothing coming in September this year

These details are correct as of 9th July 2014.

The high-visibility clothing standard is presented in the Railway Group Standards document, titled 'High Visibility Clothing'.

The importance of these standards is to ensure the safety of all workers and maintenance teams whilst working on railway lines. Regardless of whether the line is live or not, it is a mandatory requirement that high visibility clothing is to be worn with track or lineside working. 
Rail workers in GO/RT
Rail workers wearing the GO/RT standard clothing

Typically, such GO/RT clothing products feature high-visibility vests, overalls, jackets and polo shirts. These two new products, coming in stock from early September, revolutionise the current rail industry standard clothing. 

First on the list, we have the new GO/RT Hooded Sweatshirt. This product conforms to the Level 2 GO/RT 3279:2008 standard, giving you the comfort that these products meet the national Railway Group Standards. 

This product is ideal for the more modern user, with the attached hood and cords to allow for adjustment to meet the user's requirements. The inclusion of the front pocket allows for storage space if required by the user. So, why wait? This new stock is an opportunity not to be missed!

Both the European Standards and Railway Group Standard require that all high-visibility clothing products incorporate both fluorescent and retro-reflective materials. GO/RT 3279 specifies orange for the fluorescent colour to be used for the clothing. All of our products that we feature on our website conform to these standards.

Click here to be taken to this product on our website

For our final product, we have the new GO/RT Sweatshirt, which also conforms to the Level 2 GO/RT 3279:2008 standard.

With the upcoming Autumn conditions, these two new products are ideal. The high quality hem, cuffs and 280gsm fabric give you the protection you need to suit your requirements. 

Click here to be taken to this product on our website

Both of these products range in size from Small to XXXXL. Make sure you order early to get your products whilst stocks last. 

Granite Workwear - we only sell the good stuff.

The implementation of these standards has resulted in work to be carried out and completed in a safe manner. This September, there is a launch of two new GO/RT standard products to the rail industry range, which offer the user a different style of clothing than previously seen before.

Monday, 2 March 2015

GO/RT 3279 Railway Group Standard

These details are correct as of 27th May 2014. If in doubt search for GORT3279 Issue 8 dated 1.3.2014 which currently specifies the latest amendments to the standard.

You may be carrying out maintenance work on track, where no trains are running – called 'green zone working'. However, work is undertaken on active railways, during day and night, and under different weather conditions. In this 'red zone working', the dangers are very real and it is important that the highest levels of visibility are maintained.

The European standard of high visibility garments BS EN ISO 20471:2013 (a recently updated version of EN 471:2003 + A1:2007) permits a small number of fluorescent background materials, the railway standard specifies one colour only -  Orange.

But this is not just any orange. No orange high visibility garment without the GO/RT 3279 specification is certified for use on UK railways on the line-side or on or near the line.

The garments need to exceed the requirements in EN ISO 20471 (EN 471) for both the minimum area of the orange background material and retro-reflective tape used in the garment. Also, the orange colour must meet the highest level of photometric performance criteria that is specified within the standard. Hence the products must be tested and certified to this standard. These garments must also meet with the requirements for Class 2 garments as set out in BS EN ISO 20471.  If in doubt, request a copy of the certification from your PPE supplier. These should be available on demand. There is an exception for mini-vests ‘Where duties require the use of high visibility clothing, but the nature of the work does not involve possible obscuring of the high visibility clothing, a high visibility mini-vest having a reduced area of visible material, conforming to section A.4 of this Appendix, is permitted’.

On or near the line is defined as ‘within 3 meters of the nearest rail of any line and on the line itself’. ‘On a platform this applies to only the part of the platform within 1.25 meters of the platform edge and only when an engineering or technical activity is taking place’.

Line-side is defined as ‘the area between the boundary fence and the point that is called ‘on or near the line’, and where someone would be within view of the driver of an approaching train or movement’.

Additional PPE that is mandatory to be worn ‘on or near the line or on the lineside is:                   Safety helmet (these should be supplied with a chinstrap where there is a danger of them falling off) – that complies with BS EN 397. Bump caps complying with BS EN 812: 1998 do not meet the requirements for safety helmets, but may be worn as an alternative to a safety helmet by those engaged in working on rail vehicles below sole-bar level.

Safety footwear that complies with BS EN ISO 20345 that provides support to the ankles and includes mid-sole protection and had a covered toe cap. Rigger boots do not meet these requirements for ankle protection.

There are exemptions for certain operations and these are listed in Network Rail reference NR/SP/OHS/021 dated February 2007. If in doubt then refer to this publication.

Other exemptions may be granted by an application to Network Rail Head of Occupational Health and Safety for approval and shall be accompanied by a supporting risk assessment.

Myth Buster:

Some myths, probably by suppliers of GO/RT 3279 clothing, have suggested that there are various additional requirements which need to be met in order to sell more of their own products over their competitors. Most of it is made-up so we just want to clarify a few points.

Printing / Logos:

The GO/RT standard states that the visible materials of the garment must not be compromised by the addition of company names or logos. This does not mean that no logos or prints are allowed. It means be sensible - that the area covered by the prints must not affect the purpose of the garment which is to be noticed. Black, reflective and coloured printing is allowed.

The current wording in the standard (NR/L2/OHS/021, Issue 3) on this is:

‘The outer layer of the upper body clothing shall be clearly marked between the vertical retro-reflective bands’ (silver stripes) ‘on the back with the name or logo of the individual’s Sentinal sponsor or other name or logo agreed with Network Rail (e.g. project, sponsor’s parent company or trade association). This may be in colour or black and either screen printed or incorporated within a panel, which may be retro-reflective.’

Retro reflective stripes above the knee on trousers:

Some of our customers have stated that they have information from a reliable source that Network Rail is planning to change their standard/policy on work trousers to state one band must be above the knee. Not true, the minimum standard required by Network Rail for work trousers to be worn  is BS EN471: 2003 Class 1 and GO/RT3279.

As from 1st January 2009, all maintenance staff going on or near the line must wear all orange PPE. This was referred to as the ‘All Orange PPE initiative’. The move to all orange meant the addition of orange high visibility trousers (or over-trousers) to the  PPE requirement. The instruction applied to all staff and contractors who work for maintenance or who come to work in maintenance worksites. This included anyone from outside of maintenance but working under the protection of a maintenance COSS. This also includes Supervisors and Managers.

As an additional note – shorts are not permissible.

Hoods on garments – should they be tear-off?

Is there a guide for wearing / not wearing hoods on waterproof or any other GO/RT3279 garments? There is nothing mandatory with reference to having or not having a hood permanently or temporarily attached to a garment. Obvious safety concerns would mean that if you were working on or near the line then a tear-off hood would be advisable to take into account any snagging issues. Advice / comments from Network Rail when querying this issue in 2009 stated ‘No hoods to be worn. We would much prefer garments not to have them at all, detachable or not.’ However, this is NOT written in the GO/RT3279 standard at the time of writing.

Thermal balaclavas:

Unlike hoods, Balaclava’s with Mesh Ear apertures  are permitted , advice from Network Rail in 2010 stated that the reason for mesh ears (in balaclavas) is to make sure the product cannot prevent the wearer from hearing a warning given by a lookout or a train driver for example. It is also worth noting that as Balaclava’s are not an item of PPE so they do not have to meet any colour specification.

Waterproof / breathability of foul weather clothing:

In addition to GO/RT 3279, foul weather high visibility jackets and over-trousers must achieve the standard of BS EN 343 class 3 for water vapour resistance and water penetration.

General recommendations by Network Rail:

Any employee or contractor of Network Rail who goes on or near the line or on the lineside shall be required to wear full-length trousers to mitigate against the risks from lineside vegetation and the consequences of slips, trips and falls.

Ideally trousers should be high-visibility and meet the requirements of BS EN471: 2003 and GO/RT3279, however this is not mandatory.

Upper body clothing with full-length sleeves is also preferable, to protect against risks from vegetation and of sunburn, but is not mandatory. However, sleeveless garments, such as singlets or vests, are prohibited.

Sunglasses may be worn, but tinted lenses should be avoided where there is a requirement to distinguish colours accurately. Photochromic (e.g. Reactolite) lenses should be worn with caution; whilst they darken rapidly in bright conditions, they take much longer to clear in dark conditions.
Any PPE identified as necessary through work activity risk assessments shall be provided and used as required by the safe system of work and working instructions. This includes, for example, hearing protection, eye protection, gloves, etc.


Employers: shall be responsible for providing their employees with any PPE (including foul weather clothing) which is required by the nature of their job. This shall be provided free of charge and shall be renewed free of charge as and when necessary to ensure that it remains effective in use.

Site managers: shall be responsible for providing any PPE over and above the generic requirements for going on or near the line which may be required on that site. For example, on a particularly noisy worksite, the site manager shall be responsible for providing adequate hearing protection. In addition, site managers shall be responsible for ensuring that any PPE or workwear required for particular locations or tasks is used by employees as required.

Employees: are responsible for using PPE and workwear as required, for keeping it clean and maintaining it in a reasonable condition and for requesting its replacement when it becomes ineffective.

The NR PPE and work wear specification, NR/SP/OHS/021 can be found on the Network Rail Safety Central website.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Enough is Enough!

Before the onset of Trench foot we feel duty bound to advise you of the options for some sound waterproof footwear.

The Rocky

Crafted with a supple full grain cowhide leather and a waterproof breathable membrane, the Rocky is another quality safety boot from the V12 stable and has all of the benefits of a top quality walking boot.

Incorporating a waterproof covered zip on the inside of the ankle for easy access and quick release. Perfect for a search and rescue boot.

A lightweight, wide fitting, non-sparking and thermal insulating toe cap and midsole, scuff cap and tough ankle support.

A full bellows tongue helps to prevent the ingress of dirt and water and an ergonomic padded collar provides added comfort when flexing. Inside there is a full and removable shock absorbing footbed made from a non-compressing compo.

The Muckmaster

If you need warm, comfortable safety wellies then these are perfect. They are so comfortable that you feel as if you were wearing trainers and wonder why by mid-afternoon on a long shift, your feet don’t ache and why you don’t feel tired. We have a large range of the Original Muckboots in stock.

And for those of you that live near a river, or a stream that is now a river.

In either a safety  spec with toe-cap and mid-sole protection or without. In a tough Texoflex tear resistant fabric.

Granite Workwear – we only do the good stuff.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Thermal Safety Footwear

Not something that immediately springs to mind until the weather turns really cold. Then the toes start to freeze up no matter how much you wiggle them about.

There are a few good products on the market that keep the worst of the cold away.

Firstly – keep your feet dry. An obvious comment but one often overlooked.

Secondly – choice of socks. If you need more than one pair then you are doing it all wrong! If you have non-waterproof boots then go for the Sealskinz waterproof socks. If your boots are waterproof then go for the V12 Endurasok. We don’t want to confuse you with too many variants of the same thing.

The Original Muck Boot Company have replaced the best selling thermal Humber Safety Wellingtons with the new Chore Safety. If you need warm, comfortable safety wellies then these are perfect. They are so comfortable that you feel as if you were wearing trainers and wonder why by mid-afternoon on a long shift, your feet don’t ache and why you don’t feel tired. These are the only boots where we are confident that you only need a regular shoe sock.

A lace-up safety boot that will protect you down to -40 degrees is the Rockall Alaska boot. Lightweight and designed primarily for freezer/cold store work. We are getting very positive feedback as a general work boot.

If a slip-on safety boot is more your thing then the V12 Tomahawk Rigger boot with its Thinsulate lining should keep your feet very toasty. Very good value for an excellent boot.

And if you want to wear what every self-respecting inshore fisherman is wearing then go for the aptly named Ice Pack Safety Wellingtons. Perfect when worn with the VSOK4 work socks.

Remember that if you are buying these boots for yourself that you do not pay VAT.

John Ruskin said that ‘Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.’

That is what we do at Granite Workwear – We only do the good stuff.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Have You Ordered Your Waterproof Onesies For Christmas?

We have had some additions to the family since last year and all of them are proving to be very popular.

The traditional Flexothane overalls are selling as well now as they were 5 years ago. Built to last and as waterproof as you are likely to get.

The 5616 Thermal high vis version is still a favourite for wind farm operatives, outdoor stockyard and fork lift drivers. Offering superb all-round protection during the winter months.

Sales of the PR505 Rail approved overalls have already hit last winters’ total sales as word gets around regarding their value and versatility. The zip-in Thinsulate liner has made these a year-round favourite.

The three new additions are all being trialled with major users and feedback has been very positive:

440 Cabin thermal High vis waterproof overalls. These offer an alternative to the uber-waterproof 5616 Flexothane. The main benefit being improved breathability. These have been tested at a major airport where the 5616 have been used for pressure-washing and the 440 Cabin have been used for more aerobic activities. These are available in Yellow and Orange high vis.

So you don’t need the thermal properties of the 440 Cabin then the 6453 Tanner are ideal. If you don’t like your overalls thermally lined but lightweight and are happy to wear a thermal base layer then these waterproof overalls are perfect and will serve you all year round.

And if high vis is not necessary then the 441Mills Thermal waterproof overalls are just the job. Would suit any occupation where fluorescent high vis would not be wanted such as farming, veterinary practices etc. Anywhere where animal husbandry is involved. The muted grey colours are broken with retro-reflective tape that it will get you noticed but not alert the livestock.

And finally, our best-selling non high vis overalls from Baleno. Their Arctic overalls. Incredibly good value at £ 49.95. We supplied the RAF last winter with these for their groundstaff and transport sections.

So, no need to get cold and wet this winter. Invest in some decent Workwear – you are in it 8 hours a day so make it work for you.

Granite Workwear. We only do the good stuff.