Protecting workers from the elements

What kind of outerwear will keep workers compliant with workplace regulations, but also will serve as protection from the elements and function as needed in the workplace?

Answered by Misty Otto, public relations director, Dickies, Fort Worth, TX.

Safety must be a top priority for workers, and employers must institute and follow government safety regulations to ensure a proper work environment – including dress code policies. At the same time, workers need workwear that offers protection from the elements, especially in the most extreme environments.

Outerwear – or the clothing that workers use to layer – needs to be compliant with work regulations, comfortable, durable, and must allow them to focus on the task at hand and not their clothing. Workers should look for quality garment construction to ensure the outerwear will last through the season's storms, multiple launderings, and everyday wear and tear. They also should look for materials such as a combination of twill, polyester and cotton; and reinforced or double-stitched seams for added strength and mobility.

Workers need outerwear that is breathable, flexible, water repellent and wind resistant. Breathable clothing helps regulate body temperature, and water-repellent and wind-resistant material will keep workers warm and dry. Flexible and quality constructed garments also are important so that clothing fits to the body without being constricting and allows for a wide range of movement.

For workers in high-volume traffic settings, high-visibility outerwear that meets the standards of the American National Standard for high-visibility safety apparel is a must. Many companies offer vests, jackets and shirts with reflective material and are ANSI-certified in either class 1, 2, 3 or E. Workers in high-traffic settings need clothing that fulfills the standards and is functional, such as a multipurpose jacket liner that also can be used as a fleece or serve as a vest, as it also complies with the necessary standards. Workers need layering pieces that allow them to take off their jackets without falling out of compliance. For increased visibility and safety, the clothing boasts reflective material to safeguard against risks.

Finally, features such as sealed seams help add full water protection, and triple-needle-stitched seams prevent tears and rips by adding reinforcement.

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