If you listen to older people speak of their work experiences in the construction industry, you often wonder how they survived! Back in the day, some industries were notorious for taking shortcuts, lack of safety gear and dangerous antics to get the job done.
Fortunately, there’s a lot more emphasis on safety in the workplace these days. This is particularly true for outdoor job sites or workplaces where dangerous machinery is involved. Everything from the right type of shoes to hi vis clothing has become a top priority.
Types of Safety Clothing You Might Have to Wear at Your New Job
If you’re entering a new work industry, or perhaps heading out to your first job, prepare by knowing what type of safety workwear you could be expected to wear.
Before we jump into that, we just need to remind you that each industry has specific regulations that need to be adhered to. Not all industries require the same type of clothing, or all the types of gear listed. It all boils down to your type of job and your risk exposure. But knowing what’s out there will give you an idea of what to ask for if you feel it hasn’t been provided.
Head injuries can be quite traumatic and may result in disability or even death. For this reason, Australian safety legislation dictates that appropriate headgear be worn in industries such as warehousing, factories and construction.
In addition to a type of hard hat that prevents injury to your head if something falls on you, some industries might also require you to wear protective goggles. Often referred to as safety glasses, these goggles protect your eyes from flying or spraying debris.
Other types of headgear include masks, welding helmets, and earplugs. Some workers who work around a lot of dust also prefer to wear bandannas over their faces.
If you’ve never worked in a dangerous environment, you probably haven’t given much thought to the dangers associated with the wrong type of shoes. Hazardous work environments could result in heavy objects falling onto your feet, exposed electric cables or even sharp objects being stepped on.
Modern regulated work boots, also called safety boots, have steel-capped tips to keep your toes safe from falling objects. Some boots also boast oil repelling soles which go a long way toward preventing slip and fall accidents. These boots can be heavier than regular boots and might take some getting used to, but it’s worth the adjustment!
Hi Vis Clothing and Other Body Wear
Many industries require their employees to wear hi vis clothing, which refers to clothing made of fabric containing reflective accents to make the wearer more visible. Hi vis clothing comes in the form of vests, jackets or even coveralls with reflective stripes and sleeves.
Wearing hi vis clothing makes it easy for everyone on the job site to see you. This is especially helpful when you’re working around heavy machines such as forklifts and cranes. The more visible you are, the less likely you’ll accidentally be run over!
Many industries only rely on various hi vis clothing options, such as vests, over your existing clothes. Once again, this depends on the industry you’re working in and the level of risk. Welders for instance, might wear lead aprons to protect their bodies from flying sparks.
Other construction workers might wear coveralls with hi vis reflective material sewn in as stripes on the legs and sleeves. Hi vis jackets with the necessary reflective accents make it possible for you to stay warm and safe if you’re working outside during winter.
Work gloves are another safety item that can keep you safe. In some industries, they’re considered a staple. Leather gloves prevent cuts, scrapes and scratches. It’s also a safe way to prevent burns from certain chemicals or hot materials. Workers in the welding industry might wear thicker, longer gloves specifically designed to handle hot materials. Proper gloves also provide grip and make it easier to hold certain tools.
Office workers who work in factories or warehouses could be required to wear a hi vis vest, hard hat and safety boots if they need to go into the area where machinery is being operated. Alternatively, most office workers are issued with business shirts with the company logo on them. Again, this is dependent on the industry you’re working in.
Should you Buy Your Own Safety Clothing?
For the most part, many Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards require employers to provide employees with personal protective equipment. Whatever an employee requires to perform the job to the safest possible standards should be given, rather than workers buying it themselves.
While it’s your employer’s responsibility to keep you safe, also do your part so you can have peace of mind. If you’re heading into one of the mentioned industries for the first time, enquire about the safety clothing and equipment needed. The rule at your new workplace should be “Safety first!”