OSHA Work Uniform Regulations

There’s no getting around it, employee safety should be at the top of every company’s list of things to take care of in 2019.

With a multitude of OSHA regulations regarding employee safety, it’s important for every employer to have a thorough understanding of the hazards created by their work environment and to provide employees with the proper PPE that will keep them safe.

Flame retardant clothing, high visibility shirts, and chemical resistant coveralls are just a few things that can help maintain employee safety in the work environment.

Here’s what you need to know to keep your operations aligned with OSHA’s PPE requirements:

What does OSHA stand for?

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

So what does OSHA have to do with your employee uniforms?

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 encompasses 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.

What are the OSHA violation types?

OSHA has penalties for five types of violations:

Serious: When an employer knows or should know of a hazard that has a definite chance of causing serious injury or death, but does not remedy it.

Other-Than-Serious: When an employer knows or should know of a hazard that has a definite chance of causing serious injury or death, but does not remedy it.

Posting Requirements: When required documentation regarding safety is not provided to employees.

Failure to Abate: If an employer receives a citation but fails to remedy the situation, an additional fine can be tacked on per day that the violation goes unchanged.

Willful or Repeated: Considered the most serious of all the violations. Employer shows complete disregard of employees safety and health.

As of 2019, the penalty per violation has been raised to $13,260 for serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirement violations.

Failure to abate adds an additional $13,260 per day until the violation is corrected.

Willful and repeated offenses can cost up to $132,598 per violation.

If your employees don’t have the right workwear and PPE, you could be at risk.

Do employers have to provide PPE?

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.

OSHA Fire Safety Regulations

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 with 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.

Assessing Your Workplace Environment for Safety

It’s up to the employer to assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, according to OSHA regulation 1910.132(d). If they are, then personal protective equipment (PPE) should be provided.

This regulation requires both initial and annual workplace hazard assessments.

Depending on your industry, different hazards will pose risks to your employees.

If you’re unsure which industry may need certain PPE uniform solutions, follow this handy table.

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 gloves or sleeves.
  • 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.

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