Save your knees! Getting knee pad protection right

Given the hard-wearing nature of their chosen professions, tradesmen suffer from a
disproportionate number of knee-related ailments and medical conditions compared to the rest of the population. Any trade that involves prolonged kneeling causes enormous pressure on the soft tissue structures around your knee cap. Our knees are simply not designed to directly bear weight like our feet. Unfortunately, this can often result in chronic pain and reduced mobility in later years, often necessitating serious operations. Knee problems resulting from neglect over the years can even force tradesmen in their prime earning years into early retirement.

In fact 60% of all knee injuries are a result of wear and tear that could have been prevented. If you are experiencing a swelling, inflammation or warmth around the knee cap area, you may well have a common knee injury called knee bursitis, which is caused through repetitive kneeling. Statistics show that the trades most affected by knee bursitis are roofers, floorlayers and fitters, bricklayers, plumbers and electricians. All trades that are either frequently kneeling or that spend
prolonged periods working on their knees are at risk and should immediately look into protection ifthey are not doing so already.

Thankfully for these trades, specifically designed knee pads that are worn in combination with workwear trousers with knee pads inserts are available by many workwear brands, providing tradies with much needed pain-reducing and career-extending knee protection. Knee pads reduce pressure to the knee whilst simultaneously redistributing pressure away from the kneecap, spreading the load
and dramatically reducing the pressure and wear and tear on the knee.

When choosing knee pads, it really does pay to buy quality. Thankfully there is a European-wide PPE norm that sets the benchmark for quality. The EN14404 certification was established specifically for the health and protection of tradespeople and all knee pads sold in Europe must conform to this norm by law. If you do not see an EN14404 label on the packaging or on the knee pads themselves, DO NOT buy these knee pads as they do not meet the minimum standard determined to keep your precious knees healthy and safe! Buyer beware!

Serious workwear brands such as Blaklader and Caterpillar all will have conforming knee pads.

The fit between the knee pads in combination with the trousers is also extremely important. If the trousers are too short or too long, the knee pads could be in the wrong position. Likewise, the knee pad insert pocket must be the right size for the knee pad itself to prevent the knee pad from moving laterally. Some brands – such as Caterpillar Workwear – provide multiple pockets within the trouser to allow the wearer to adjust the knee pad into an optimal position. In fact the EN14404 norm is only valid if the knee pad is used with the trousers they were certified for, so it makes sense to use the same knee pad and trouser brand, given they were designed to be used together.

There are three classes within the EN14404 norm (technically we are talking about type 2 ie kneepads that fit into trousers not over them):
• Class 0 - knee pads for moderate use on even, level surfaces
• Class 1 - for more extended kneeling on even and uneven surfaces and protected againstpenetration by at least 100 

Mascot Waterloo knee pads are a very popular example
• Class 2 - for extended kneeling on even and uneven surfaces under severe conditions andprotected against penetration by at least 250 N

Caterpillar's iconic yellow CW91 Knee pads are a good example of EN14404, class 0 compliant knee pads. They are light and flexible allowing for maximum mobility whilst protecting the tradesperson who occasionally kneels throughout the day and mainly works on flat surfaces.

If you are a roofer, floor installer or even a plumber and are constantly getting on and off your knees or you spend extended periods throughout the day on your knees or on uneven surfaces, then you should be looking for class 1 knee pads, such as those found in the Blaklader knee pads range.