What do the clothes you wear to work have in common with a firefighter’s fireproof overalls, an astronaut’s spacesuit or a builder’s steel-toed boots?
Answer: it’s also a form of PPE!
That’s because PPE is a broad category – in addition to specialised uniforms and the like, it also includes what you wear to work.
While many workplaces ban shorts from their dress codes on the grounds of appearance, in other cases, it’s a case of safety – sometimes, shorts just aren’t safe enough.
In particular, workplaces that need hazchem signs!
Wondering if and when it’s appropriate to wear shorts to work?
It’s summer, the weather is beautiful, and you want to don a comfortable pair of shorts – but should you?
Although more organisations are loosening up their dress codes, safety in the workplace must still be taken into consideration.
In this post we will discuss when it is safe for a worker to “free the knee” as well as certain industries that require uniform dress codes.
We’ll look at what employers can do within reason to make sure their personnel stay safe while also remaining comfortable during warmer months. If you have been unsure about wearing shorts on job sites due to safety regulations then keep reading!
Are shorts REALLY that problematic?
When dangerous materials that require hazchem signs are involved, the answer is yes!
Simply put, certain industries deal with goods that are highly corrosive. Exposure can cause long-term health problems – in some cases, a brief exposure can even result in immediate injuries like burns.
We aren’t just talking about labs or refineries, either – any business that’s involved in the supply chain for hazardous or dangerous substances should also avoid shorts.
Take transport and logistics companies, for example. Many of your employees might come into direct contact with the cargo on its journey from A to B:
- Drivers may have to rearrange or handle the cargo while en route
- Warehouse and depot workers have to handle hazardous cargo
- Accidents and spills can expose your workers to dangerous or hazardous substances
While the substances themselves might be contained in appropriate containers, you should still prepare for the worst, even if your involvement in the process is relatively minimal.
Clothing as part of your OHS obligations
OHS obligations are vital for any business, and the right clothing is an essential part of this.
With carefully selected uniforms that adhere to safety regulations, you can ensure your staff is protected while on the job.
This can include items like protective gloves, steel toe boots, and high visibility vests depending on the nature of the work that needs to be done.
It is also important that your workers feel comfortable in these clothes; after all, the clothing first and foremost should provide protection.
Taking the time to invest in quality materials and proper fitting uniforms will make sure all employees receive adequate levels of protection while at work.
As an employer, your legal obligation is to take reasonable measures and steps to create a safe workplace.
And that includes your dress code.
Dress codes are easy to implement – should WorkSafe conduct an unannounced visit and find your staff wearing unsuitable clothing (including shorts in some cases), you won’t be able to use this as an excuse!
We aren’t just talking about the types of workplaces whose operations involve hazchem, either – state OHS laws are very broad in their definition of what’s needed to maintain a safe working environment.
For outdoor jobs, shorts may be problematic. In these cases, you may have to mandate long pants, or other forms of sun protection like strong sunscreen.
Shorts aren’t always a problem, however…
… in fact, in certain workplaces shorts can actually be required by OHS!
Certain jobs require a lot of physical labour. This generates body heat – when combined with the outside temperature and exposure to sunlight, this may result in excess heat being retained by pants.
On hot summer days like the ones we get in Australia, this can lead to heat exhaustion and eventually, heatstroke!
In these cases, shorts may actually be required dress if you want to avoid these heat-related medical emergencies.
Forming your dress code: should you say yea or nay to shorts?
In short, there’s no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to workplace safety. Like many things safety-related, it all depends on the workplace.
When deciding whether or not shorts are appropriate for your workplace, you’ll want to look at…
The most likely risks
As we mentioned above, there are certain jobs and positions that may see workers exposed to harmful substances or elements. Hazardous chemicals or harsh UV rays may necessitate long pants, while a high risk of heatstroke may make shorts mandatory.
This also dictates the types of material you allow. Certain workplaces might mandate that shorts (and pants) be made of tough material like Cordura.
Certain religions and beliefs may exempt certain individuals from wearing specific types of garments – alternatively, they may require it.
Anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws mean your dress code will need to work around this. If any of your staff are affected by this, we suggest talking things through with them and coming up with an exemption (if safe to do so) or alternatively creating a compromise solution.
Almost as important as safety is workplace morale – something that dress code directly affects.
When deciding whether or not shorts are appropriate, it’s important that you look beyond just safety. If there’s a risk that morale may be significantly affected, we suggest considering other solutions, such as thick aprons.
The role of safety signs in the workplace
When it comes to protecting your staff, signs in the workplace are an essential part of the safety equation. In fact, they’re just as important as your dress code!
And with regards to dress codes and shorts, workplace safety signs can help you by…
Informing visitors of your dress code
Once you’ve developed and implemented your dress code, the next step is to ensure that all visitors are informed of what they can and can’t wear.
And for that, you need signs in the workplace!
Whether it’s a mandatory sign next to the visitor’s entrance or a prohibition sign next to the hazchem storage area of your business, good signage is essential in ensuring your dress code is followed.
In addition to workplace mandatory signs, SignSmart also produces custom signs. Tell us about your dress code, and where the sign is going to be installed – we’ll do the rest, ensuring that your dress code is highly visible.
As we mentioned above, many of the industries where shorts are ill-advised are the ones that produce, handle or transport hazardous or dangerous goods.
In these cases, hazchem signs are a must-have!
In particular, you’ll want to install hazchem signs around areas where hazardous and dangerous materials are stored.
When combined with mandatory signs and caution signs that explain that shorts are not permitted around hazchem areas, you can ensure that your workers and visitors are safe around acid, chemicals and corrosive materials.
Safety, mandatory, hazchem signs and more!
Those of us who’ve ever had to work a job that involves physical labour know that pants can be uncomfortable – especially when summer rolls round. Regardless of material, cut or thickness, pants simply can’t hold a candle to the comfort offered by shorts.
From a comfort standpoint, a good, tough pair of shorts can feel like they’re heaven-sent.
From a workplace safety perspective however, shorts might not always be appropriate. In fact, there are several situations where shorts might be woefully unsuited!
So you’ve decided that shorts are no bueno. The next step is to ensure that everybody knows this with safety signs in the workplace.
Whether you’re looking for hazchem signs, mandatory PPE signs or even custom signs, Signsmart delivers in both senses of the word.
Our business is to keep yours safe with professionally-made signs that help you fulfil your OHS obligations. What’s more, we don’t just operate in Melbourne – we deliver nation-wide and offer unbeatable turnaround – in some cases, we can get your signs out to you by the next day!
Make your business as safe as it can be – click here to browse our considerable collection of safety signs.
Alternatively, click here to get in touch with our custom sign makers!