What do handling hazardous chemicals, dealing with temperature extremes, and working with heavy machinery have in common?
Possible bodily injury. Because of the risks associated with such activities, employers must ensure that their workers wear protective clothing to keep safe.
Types of Body Protection
Because of the varying hazards one might encounter at a work site, there are many types of protective clothing available. For starters, body protection is available in a range of materials, each effective at diminishing particular hazards. Materials include:
- Paper-like fiber, which is used for disposable suits that protect against dust and splashes
- Treated wool and cotton, which adapts to changing temperatures, is comfortable, fire-resistant, and guards against dust, abrasions and rough and irritating surfaces
- Duck, a closely woven cotton fabric that protects against cuts and bruises when handling heavy, sharp or rough materials
- Leather, which often is used to combat against dry heat and flames
- Rubber, rubberized fabrics, neoprene and plastics, which prevent injury and exposure to certain chemicals and physical hazards.
- Flame-resistant, which is used for many applications, such as lab coats and for welding
Employers might provide body protection in the form of lab coats, coveralls, vests, jackets, aprons, surgical gowns and full-body suits. Employees are expected to wear protective clothing to shield only parts of the body that could suffer injury.
Chemical and Physical Hazards
If there are risks of contact with toxic substances or harmful physical agents, ensure that your protective clothing will safeguard you against them. Your clothing manufacturer should be able to verify an item’s strengths.
Lab coats are appropriate for minor chemical splashes and solids contamination, and plastic or rubber aprons are best for preventing exposure to corrosive or irritating liquids. Protective clothing that resists physical and chemical hazards should be worn over your everyday apparel.
Remember that what is under your protective wear is important, as well. Clothing that is oversized or loose, skimpy, or torn may pose a hazard in the laboratory. Also, it is recommended to tie back unrestrained hair.
If full-body protection is necessary at your worksite, the clothing should be inspected carefully before each use. The clothing also must fit each worker properly, and function properly and for the purpose it was intended.
For More Information
Learn more about body protection by reading OSHA’s overview on personal protective equipment. (https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3151.html)
Watch this message from Interim Vice President for Research Michael San Francisco on the importance of safety at Texas Tech.
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This information is not exhaustive and should not be construed as containing all the necessary compliance, safety, or warning information available. Please make sure you consult with EH&S or appropriate supervisors for all safety information and procedures.