OSHA Work Uniform Regulations

With a multitude of  Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations regarding employee safety, it’s important to stay informed of your industry’s standards as changes are made. OSHA’s general industry regulation (29 CFR 1910) covers all employer standards on providing employees with a safe work environment, proper training with tools, and personal protective equipment (PPE) that meets industry standards. Specifically, regulation 1910.132 encompases all PPE standards. The code requires an initial and annual workplace assessment for potential hazards and the selection of appropriate personal protective equipment to be included with employee uniforms.

So what does this all mean? With required annual inspections, employers need to have a thorough understanding of the hazards created by their work environment and must adequately provide employees with the proper PPE that will keep them safe. Here are three of the major OSHA regulations regarding uniforms:

1. Hazard Assessment and Equipment Selection – 1910.132(d)

OSHA regulation 1910.132(d) states, “the employer shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of PPE.” This regulation requires initial and annual workplace hazard assessments. Depending on your industry, different hazards will pose risks to your employees. Here are some common uniform solutions and the problems they solve for industries that require PPE:

Industry PPE Uniform Solutions
  • Latex Gloves: Prevents foodborne illness and follows regulations preventing bloodborne pathogens.
  • Rubber Boots: Provides a non-slip solution to moving around the work area while also keeping employees dry.
  • Aprons, Frocks, and Lab Coats: Act as an extra layer of protection.
  • Snap-Front Shirts: Prevents uniform parts, specifically buttons, from falling into and contaminating products.
  • Snap Fasteners: Buttons can fall off and end up in a product; using snaps will prevent this.
  • Elastic and Velcro Cuffs: Prevents substances from getting under sleeves or gloves.
  • Thermal Gloves: Allows workers to safely handle heated objects, some are also made to provide chemical resistance as well.
  • Flame Resistant Lab Coats, Shirts/Pants, and Coveralls: Materials like Nomex provide better protection against chemicals and flames.
  • Snap Fasteners: Using snaps instead of buttons allows for easy removal of garments in case of an emergency.
Pharma & Biotech
  • Lab Coats: Provides a removable layer of clothing separating the wearer from contact with contaminants.
  • Scrubs: Like lab coats, scrubs protect from contaminants.
  • Latex Gloves: Provides resistance to liquids and chemicals.
  • Snap Fasteners: Using snaps instead of buttons allows for easy removal of garments in case of an emergency.
  • Flame-Resistant Garments: Specifically designed clothing can be made to prevent the spread of fires.
  • Arc Flash Garments: Prevents injury caused by arc flashes, arc blasts, and shock.
  • Fitted Clothing: Prevents excess clothes from getting caught in machines.
  • Cut Protection: Typically used in gloves and boots, certain fabrics can help prevent sharp objects from cutting through.
  • Steel Toe Boots: Prevents heavy machines and object from crushing or cutting through boots.
  • Lab Coats: Provides a removable layer of clothing separating the wearer from contact with blood and other bodily fluids.
  • Scrubs: Like lab coats, scrubs protect the wearer from contact with blood and bodily fluids.
  • Latex Gloves: Prevents contact with bloodborne pathogens.

2. OSHA Compliance with the National Fire Protection Association

OSHA’s fire and electrical regulations are based on standards laid out by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), particularly referring to codes 70E, 2112, and 2113.

NFPA 70E requires safe work practices that offer PPE to employees at risk of electrical hazard exposure. According to Electrical Safety Foundation International, on average, 300 deaths and 4,000 injuries occur every year. Since this is a major concern, the NFPA regulation was created by request of OSHA as a preventative measure for companies to protect employees against injuries caused by arc flash, arc blasts, shock, and electrocution. Arc flash shirts, pants, coveralls, jacket liners, and headwear are all made available in compliance to NFPA 70E and should always be used when electrical hazards are a concern.

NFPA 2112 and 2113 outline the regulations for fire hazard assessments in the workplace and requirements of flame-resistant PPE. OSHA reports that every year approximately 5,000 work-related injuries and 600 deaths are caused by fire and explosions. Focusing on reducing these numbers, the primary purpose of these regulations is to ensure that the workplace doesn’t pose any unnecessary risks and that garments are not contributing to the burn injuries. Regulation 2113 specifically requires garments to provide a degree of protection to the wearer depending on the environment while reducing the risk of burn injuries resulting from thermal exposures and flash fires.

3. Payment for Protective Equipment – 1910.132(h)

To help clarify any cost responsibilities regarding PPE included with work uniforms, OSHA regulation 1919.132(h) requires that all PPE, with few exceptions, must be provided and paid for by the employer. This puts liability on the employer if the proper PPE is not provided and utilized. To avoid liabilities, it’s important that you have the resources to provide quality PPE or a uniform rental program in place that can provide arc flash, flame, and chemical resistant garments.

Need help keeping up with industry regulations or implementing better PPE with your work uniforms? Our uniform vendor program here at Clean Rental can help provide your business with the PPE and uniforms your personnel need to work safe and smart. Contact us for any questions regarding industry regulations and uniform standards!