Professionalising construction - trades to technicians workwear25.10.22
Laing O’Rourke is introducing new workwear for its employees, inspired by Formula 1 pit crews, that offers improved fit, functionality, and comfort, while also helping to reflect the professionalism of the many skills and technicians across the construction industry.
The premium clothing range will provide Laing O’Rourke employees with their own ‘kit bag’ of items, including high visibility red polo shirts, softshell jackets, and charcoal grey cargo trousers. With a focus on wellbeing and inclusion the priority has been that the new workwear is tailored for female and male fit.
Construction industry workwear has suffered from a lack of investment for decades, and consequently lags behind other professions. We wanted to completely turn that around by developing a range of workwear that supports our ‘Trades to Technician’s’ agenda. The move from trades to technicians is fundamental to safer and healthier modern methods of construction. This new workwear will also underpin our new inclusion and wellbeing health and safety programme, which has recently been launched in the Europe Hub.
The new look will certainly make Laing O’Rourke’s sites stand out against other more traditional projects, with hi vis red polo shirts and softshell jackets replacing the more commonplace hi vis fluorescent safety vests teamed with jeans or jogging bottoms and t-shirts and sweatshirts.-The new workwear has been designed to comply with PPE standards and to be suitable for all conditions; with UV properties in the fabrics for the height of summer to layers for warmth and waterproof protection during bad weather. All items are designed to make everyone; women and men; feel comfortable, safe, smart and most importantly included.
In order to create a completely new range of workwear Laing O’Rourke partnered with London based Jermyn Street Design (jSD), known for creating uniforms for Eurostar, Dyson, Ocado and Jet2.
David Humphries, Account Manager for jSD, explains the process: “The current range of PPE in the construction industry does not support the agenda which Laing O’Rourke has set around inclusion and wellbeing and moving from trades to technicians, so we worked together to design a completely new range of workwear, which had to meet a demanding set of requirements.”
The vision was to challenge the norm and create something that reflected Laing O’Rourke’s investment in their people by creating a healthier, smarter working environment. As well as reflecting the professionalism of the construction industry, Laing O’Rourke wanted to use the new workwear to attract and retain talent. In particular, they want to encourage more women to join the profession, so working with jSD, a range of items that were specifically designed for women – not an adaptation of the men’s clothing, was developed.
Carol Williams, Head of Procurement, Europe at Laing O’Rourke explains: “For example, the trousers were designed to fit a female shape and leg length, and graded into female sizes. Importantly, the pockets, designed to carry necessary tools, are the same size in the women's range as they are in the men’s. Moreover, the range is not yet complete - with Laing O’Rourke planning to introduce a maternity range in the future.”
The process involved extensive testing, as David explains: “We spent a lot of time selecting, developing and testing the right fabrics that would work in all conditions, not just in winter but comfortable in the height of summer. They also had to be lightweight and durable, working in layers for warmth and comfort. At each stage of the design process, items were tried and tested with wearer wellbeing at the forefront. It’s an often physical job, so the workwear had to be smart, comfortable, safe, and fit for purpose.”
Six wearer trials were conducted across several locations with over fifty wearers in multiple job roles giving the people who would use the workwear the opportunity to drive the design process. Employees were given different versions to test, with different lengths of sleeves or trousers, and even a choice of two different collar style, and the most popular was adopted in each instance. The trial sessions were videoed with the footage shared with colleagues to build engagement and awareness that wearer wellbeing and inclusion was being built into the range, with every item based on direct wearer feedback.
The result is a range of premium, designer-led garments, that are smart, comfortable, fit for purpose, conform to UKCA certification and are designed to last. More importantly, they look nothing like the usual clothing worn on building sites, this is completely intentional as we move from trades to technicians.
In parallel with the new uniform roll out, Laing O’Rourke has been installing new recycling points across its projects, depots and manufacturing facilities allowing its employees to responsibly dispose of PPE.
George concludes: “We are very excited to see how our employees, customers and the general public react to our new look across our construction sites.”
Laing O’Rourke is currently rolling out its new uniform across UK construction sites.