Dressing for safety on the job doesn’t have to be tricky. Fortunately, most occupations have general workwear guidelines to follow. And even though dress codes do vary from job to job, one rule of thumb is to avoid wearing clothing that is offensive, provocative, and overly worn or damaged.
But safety on the job is just as important as presentation. Workplace injuries account for thousands of personal injury claims each year. Below are a few basics to remember when choosing work attire with safety in mind.
Your Clothing Choices do Matter
No matter if your dress code is casual or formal, your clothing’s material is important to your safety. Avoid excessively thin or worn clothing that could tear easily. Clothing that’s too loose can be hazardous when working around equipment with moving parts. Be mindful that loose accessories, such as gloves, neckwear, and jewelry can be just as dangerous. Long sleeves and pants versus short sleeves and shorts require additional consideration because what you wear should match the climate and risk of exposure to chemicals too.
Personal Protective Equipment is a Must
Types of personal protective equipment (PPE) range from earplugs to harnesses to chemical suits. Your employer and managers encourage these items with good reason. When worn correctly, they can reduce the risk of injury. No doubt various types of PPEs can be uncomfortable. The key is to wear clothing that is compatible with your PPEs; keep in mind, you are dressing for safety. Quality, close-fitting blue jeans (without holes) are a good choice when wearing a utility belt or harness. Choosing climate-control or sweat-wicking materials can reduce sweating and overheating when layered under various types of coveralls or other protective suits.
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Appropriate Footwear and Headgear are Critical
If you’re working in the restaurant industry, athletic shoes are probably most suitable for fast-paced movement both in the kitchen and dining area. On the other hand, if you’re operating industrial equipment you’re likely required to wear workboots and a hard hat. While office workers may have a little more liberty in choosing footwear, trip hazards can be a concern on any surface. This means closed-toe and closed-heel shoes with slip-resistant soles are the safest bet in the office. Another consideration is long hair. It’s best to keep hair pulled pack so that it doesn’t obstruct your vision or get caught in moving parts.
If you’re still not sure what options are best for you, check to see if your employee manual has a section on the dress code. Compliance is key to staying safe at work and being prepared for emergencies. When you make safety a priority with your workwear, you’re helping your company create a culture of safety that not only reduces risk to yourself but to others as well.
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