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Toolbox Talk: Proper Job Site Clothing

By November 15, 2022 No Comments

Our clothes are our first line of defense when it comes to protecting our bodies. Each day we wear our work clothes for eight, ten, and sometimes even more hours;  there is nothing worse than working in uncomfortable clothing and/or poorly fitting footwear. Although your work clothes are very important to your safety and health, your comfort is also a consideration. You need to have clothes that are right for the job. They must be sturdy and durable and capable of standing up to heavy wear and tear. You need clothes that will keep you warm in winter and cool in the summer and that will keep you dry in wet and inclement weather. We all know that it’s easier to take off a layer of clothing than not have enough on in cold weather. Wool works best in the cold, while cotton is superior during the warm months. In other words, wear clothes that you can work in comfortably and that are designed for the kind of work you do and the weather in which you must do it.

Changes in the seasons, daily weather, and working indoors or outdoors can bring challenges to our selections of work clothing. The key is being prepared while keeping in mind that there are a few mandatory requirements that must be met by everyone coming on to the project site, including visitors and delivery personnel. Below are the standards that apply to Proper Clothing.
(This excerpt is not all-inclusive of the actual standard)

WAC 296-155-200 General Requirements for PPE

(1) Minimum clothing requirements.
(a) You must ensure that employees wear at least:
• A short-sleeved shirt;
• Long pants; and
• Shoes that meet the requirements of WAC 296-155-212, Foot protection.

A short-sleeved shirt covers the top of the shoulder and has material extending down the arm. If a short-sleeved shirt has a seam at the end of the shoulder, the material must extend down the arm from the seam.
Long pants have legs that extend past the knee when the wearer stands and leaves no exposed skin on the lower leg.
(a) Where there is a danger of contact with moving parts of machinery, or the work process is such that a hazard exists:
• The clothing of employees must fit closely to the body;
• Dangling neckwear, bracelets, wristwatches, rings, or similar articles must not be worn by employees.

EM 385-1-1 Section 5 Personal Protective and Safety Equipment

05. A.06 Minimum requirements.
a. Employees shall wear clothing suitable for the weather and work conditions. For fieldwork (e.g., construction sites, industrial operations and maintenance activities, emergency operations, regulatory inspections, etc.), at a minimum, this shall be:

(1) Short sleeve shirt;
(2) Long pants (excessively long or baggy pants are prohibited); and
(3) Leather or other protective work shoes or boots.

b. Protective equipment shall be of heat, fire, chemical, and/or electrical-resistive material when conditions require protection against such hazards.

But none of that will do any good unless you:

  1. Wear protective clothing for any job that involves hazards.
  2. Be sure you are wearing the right clothing that will protect you from that hazard.
  3. Inspect clothing carefully before putting it on.
  4. Remove clothing carefully to prevent contamination.
  5. Maintaining a CLEAN, well-designed work garment in top condition, free from rips, tears, missing buttons, or other defect, can reduce accidents.

Caution – Built-in hazards in work clothing may be waiting for traps for the unwary in moments of carelessness or emergency. Many such hazards are commonplace and may not be recognized as dangerous.

  1.  Dirty work clothing, for example, is more than an eyesore. It breeds accidents and health hazards. Dirty or oil-soaked work garments often cause skin rashes, irritation, and other forms of dermatitis.
  2. Missing buttons are another accident hazard, which may not be recognized as such. If a workman has lost a button on the cuff of his shirt sleeve, the dangling cuff may easily get caught in the jaws of moving machinery and drag the wearer in after it.
  3. Tears and rips in work clothing are also potential causes of accidents.
  4. Cuffs on trousers are dangerous since they can also catch on projections and cause crippling falls.
  5. Oil or chemical-soaked clothing (or clothing soaked with any flammable material) can easily lead to dermatitis or fatal burns.
  6. Floppy pockets, torn sleeves, and other such items of clothing are hazardous on at least two counts: loose or dangling ends may catch in moving machinery, and they may get caught on something and cause a fall.
  7. Defective, poorly designed, loose, or ill-fitting clothing should not be worn to work.
  8. Loose belts, dangling ties, and fancy or ill-designed clothing.
  9. Protective clothing. Under conditions indicating their use, flameproof, acid, or fire-resistant garments and safety shoes are indispensable aids to safety.

Remember, we’re hooked on safety!

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