Spotlight on Safety:
Each year, more than 4.1 million serious workplace injuries occur and each day, more than 12 workers die on the job, according to the United States Department of Labor. Therefore, it is crucial to take precautions by wearing the proper clothing, gear and footwear while in the workplace, especially if you are working amongst hazardous conditions.
Some essential safety wear includes gloves, glasses, boots, ear plugs, hats, and jackets that should be worn in industrial settings, whether it is handling heavy machinery or dangerous chemicals. Wearing the correct gear can be a matter of life and death for many workers. Below is a list of protective clothing items and why they are necessary:
- Helmets/hats — These should be worn when working with large equipment, working at high levels outside, or even around moving objects. A bolt, rivet or tool can hit an employee’s head, which can result in permanent impairment or possibly death if it is not properly covered.
- Safety glasses — Eyes can be damaged from dust, flying particles, broken metal or chemical splashes. Failure to wear protective eyewear may result in permanent loss of sight. Remember to wear a good pair that fully covers both of your eyes when working with chemicals, power equipment, and around machines.
- Safety boots — Workers who work outdoors with heavy industrial equipment or indoor areas where sharp objects might have fallen on the ground are advised to invest in rubber boots, or metal toe-cap boots that fully protect the soles of the feet and toes in case of a fall or an accidental drop of a product/tool.
- Gloves — Hand injuries are very common, mostly from chemicals, burns, electrical currents and dropped tools. Workers should have them on at all times in case of an accident to prevent burns, bruises, scrapes, electrical shock and even broken bones.
- Earplugs — If you constantly work around loud machinery and/or noisy equipment, earplugs are a must. Leaving your ears exposed to continuously loud noises will cause hearing damage or hearing loss. Plugs may also help with tinnitus, which is the constant ringing of the ears.
- Jackets — Always make sure to wear the proper jacket to prevent scrapes, burns, and bruises that could result from an accident with a machine or power tool. In addition, jackets are crucial if you work outside during the winter months when frostbite is a concern.
- Vests — Wearing vests when working outside makes you visible to others who may not otherwise see you, thereby avoiding on-the-job injuries and death. For those who work at night, be sure to wear vests with reflective material. That way when a light shines on you, you can be seen. Reflective clothing approved by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) is highly recommended.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,383 fatal work injuries in 2012 — most of them as a result of not wearing proper safety gear. Although injuries are down 25% since 2006, it is still imperative to wear the proper safety gear in the workplace. By wearing protective clothing, you are making a fashion statement, which says: “I choose to be safe.”