Disposable protective clothing helps prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace. As with any valuable piece of equipment, there are rules and regulations for proper use.
OSHA is detailed in the employer’s and employees’ responsibilities concerning the why, how, when, and where of protective clothing. All parties involved have a common goal which is safety. The following facts about disposable protective clothing in the workplace should be practiced and important for all producing a safe work environment that benefits all departments.
Many Jobs Require Clothing to Protect Against Hazards
Many jobs in different fields require clothing to protect employees from hazards. A hazard is an activity left uncontrolled that could result in an injury or illness.
Here is a quick glance at a few of the obvious industries requiring protective clothing and a couple that might be surprising.
- Food Preparation
- Chemical Plants
- Automotive Repair, Paint, and Body Shops
- Chemical Spills and Site Decontamination
- Commercial Window Cleaner
- Nail Tech
- Event Steward
Inclusive in this protective clothing category is professional face masks, medical face masks, earplugs, hard hats, foot protection, and protective eyewear. These accessories are all part of the protective wardrobe.
Disposable Clothing Safety Standards
According to OSHA Standards 1910.132(a), the employer is required to provide training for the employees regarding proper safety standards for protective clothing. The training should cover how to put on and take off the disposable attire.
Employees should understand the limitations, proper care, maintenance, and disposal of protective clothing before entering the designated work zone.
Keep Hazard Assessment’s Up to Date
A Hazard Assessment is a centerpiece to the overall safety of the workplace. Most injuries, illnesses, and incidents in the workplace happen due to a faulty hazard assessment. Recognizing present hazards and investigating possible hazards is an important key to overall safety.
There are many workplace hazards that cannot be eliminated and therefore a plan of protection must be put in place by the employer for the employee to be able to accomplish the job in a planned environment.
The company’s protective equipment supplier should be able to help employers choose the best type of disposable protective clothing for the present hazard and anticipated hazards for the best safety.
The value of protective disposable clothing stands out upon the realization that the risk of contamination to regular clothing is eliminated and provides complete body protection.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Most disposable protective clothing tagged “one size fits all” was designed with the male body as a pattern. Today with more women working in hazardous jobs that require protective clothing it is very important to understand that size matters and men and women are shaped differently. Comfort is an important part of the safety equation.
Clothing that is too tight will restrict mobility or may tear — endangering the employee. Trying to compensate for an outfit is too big by rolling up the legs or sleeves compromises the employee’s safety by leaving the skin exposed. Loose clothing may get caught in machines or may cause the worker to stumble or fall.
By supplying your workers with clothing that fits properly promotes a win/win — employee satisfaction and safety.
Plan to Avoid Heat Stress
Wearing protective apparel in hot environments without proper ventilation can have severe consequences for a worker’s health…even possible death. It is important that employers and employees become familiar with the steps they need to take to avoid heat stress.
- Block out direct sunlight and use industrial fans and air conditioners to eliminate some heat.
- Create a separate cool room for workers to recover and regain proper body temperature.
- Provide plenty of fluid at least every 15 minutes to avoid dehydration.
- Adjust hours of work to cooler parts of the day.
Employers need to implement training keeping employees familiarized with the symptoms of heat stress and to have a plan of action set in place.
Numerous people rely on protective clothing items daily in their work environment. The protective outer ware does more than just protect their clothes underneath. Protective clothing keeps contaminants off the skin, prevents cuts, and protects the worker in a naturally un-safe environment.