Depending on your industry, employee uniforms can serve as a preventative measure for safety hazards. Uniforms made with flame resistant materials, insulation, extra padding, elastic bands, or without pockets are just a few ways in which uniforms can act as personal protective equipment. Whether you’re using uniforms to protect employees against burns and cross contamination or to make them more visible, implementing the right protective uniforms is a great way to create a safer work environment and to show employees you care.
Uniforms as Personal Protective Equipment
For most work related hazards, there is a uniform solution that will reduce the risk of incidents. Designed with the proper materials, uniforms can protect against burns, contamination, and chemical spills. Here is a list of common hazards and the uniform solutions that can prevent them:
Fire, Shock, and Burns
- Flame Resistant Clothing: Specifically designed clothing can be made to prevent the spread of fires and electric shock. Flame resistant clothing is not just for firefighters—in many industries, open flames and electronics pose threats of fire danger and shock.
- Thermal Gloves: Gives workers the ability to safely handle heated objects. Some thermal gloves have added chemical resistance.
- Elastic and Velcro Cuffs: In an environment dealing with dangerous chemicals, velcro wrists can prevent substances from getting under sleeves or gloves.
- Lab Coats: Act as a removable barrier in case of a spill.
- Non-Absorbent Clothing: Prevents liquids and chemicals from being absorbed and coming in contact with skin.
- Fitted Clothing: Baggy clothing can cause chemical spills resulting in injury. Uniform designs that fit close to the body, sleeves that aren’t too long, or have elastic wrists can help avoid these types of accidents.
High Visibility Safety Clothing
Being easily visible is an important uniform feature for those working with and around heavy machinery or for those who handle dangerous chemicals. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) outlines high-visibility regulations for uniforms and breaks them down into three group types:
Type O (Off-Road): Uniforms that provide visibility enhancements for workers in occupational environments that pose hazards from moving vehicles, machines, and equipment (does not include exposure to public roadways). Types of workers include:
- Employees who retrieve shopping carts in parking lots.
- Warehouse workers exposed to equipment traffic and heavy machinery.
- Workers in refineries and mines.
Type R (Roadway): Uniforms that provide increased visibility enhancements for workers exposed to hazards on public roadways including moving vehicles and construction machinery. Types of workers include:
- Roadway construction workers
- Crossing guards
- Tow truck operators
- Toll gate personnel
- Airport ground crew
Type P (Public Safety): Uniforms that provide increased visibility enhancements for emergency responders and law enforcement in environments that include heavy exposure to traffic. Types of workers include:
- Law enforcement
- Emergency response personnel
Uniforms can be used as tools for quick recognition and branding. Being able to identify workers and group leaders is a great safety precaution not only for employees, but guests and customers too. Whether working in a warehouse, on a roadway, or as a public safety officer, the ability to quickly differentiate the leader of a work group in the case of an emergency is important when a fast response is needed. Branding is also important for identification. Besides the added benefit of advertising, it gives workers a sense of camaraderie, helps to identify who should and shouldn’t be in certain work areas, and signals to outside individuals what group is in charge. Using different signifiers in your uniforms to aid in quick identification will benefit everyone involved.