While proper training is the best way to create a foundation of safety, true safety begins with the proper clothing worn to the job site. Without the appropriate dress, workers are putting themselves at risk no matter how well trained they are.
OSHA standards and job site dress codes are meant to enforce a manner of dress that promotes personal safety in all aspects. Without this precaution, workers could show up mentally prepared but almost physically incapable of avoiding injury to themselves and others. Here are some of the ways construction teams prevent mishaps and injury with the clothes they wear:
The first general protocol is to wear proper clothing that fits closely around the body. Being overly tight restricts motion, but being too loose can invite all sorts of dangerous opportunities. Loose clothing can easily get caught in machinery and severely injure or maim the worker. Loose clothing can also snag, causing workers to lose their balance, fall or drop valuable materials.
For all these reasons, the fit of the clothes is the guiding rule for all garments. Shirts and pants should have sleeves and pant legs that do not come over the wearer’s extremity. Having a closer fit in armpit and groin areas will help wearers keep better track of their clothing as they move about.
Hard hats are mandatory on nearly 100 percent of job sites. Anytime heavy equipment is being used, having even a single worker on the premises without a hard hat can prompt steep fines from OSHA. Even if OSHA was nowhere to be found, something as minor as a falling hammer or jutting piece of rebar can cause major damage to someone whose skull is unprotected.
Create a culture where every worker puts on a hard hat before they set a single toe in the job perimeter. Managers, site visitors and CEOs must also set an example and put on a hard hat — even if it happens to clash with their suit and tie.
Some jobs that do not require heavy materials, such as painting, may be able to fly with just thick-soled tennis shoes. For nearly everyone else, a durable boot with a stiff, supportive ankle and a grippy sole will keep them in their footing and prevent falls or injuries to ankles.
Steel toes will be necessary on almost every job site since heavy materials and equipment will be used. Many workers have been able to breathe a sigh of relief after a heavy timber was caught by the steel toe and not the wearer’s foot.
Many jobs will require eye protection to prevent injury from flying debris. Any time there is dust or workers will be cutting into something, eye protection should be a requirement. Newer work goggles also come with UV protection, helping workers keep the sun out of their eyes when performing precision tasks.
For equipment that is louder than 85 dB, protective ear coverings should be worn by workers within 10 feet.
OSHA recommends using the “2-3 foot rule” test to check if the equipment is loud enough to warrant protection. To perform the test, simply stand about arm’s length away from another worker and try to hold a conversation. If you find you are shouting to be heard, the noise is likely to be over 85 dB.
Any time workers will be using heavy equipment or operating near a roadway, reflective clothing is vital. People operating a car or a heavy machine will be focused on the task at hand and have limited visibility. High-visibility and reflective clothing can save lives by being noticeable even out of the corner of someone’s eye.
Using these proper clothing guidelines, workers can keep themselves and their team safe from the moment they step onto the site. Safety should always be the most important factor on a site, even if it means not being fashionable while on the job.