While most think of hygiene as taking a shower, brushing your teeth and combing your hair, proper personal hygiene can have an impact on safety and the safety of those around you while on the job.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, personal hygiene on the shop floor is increasingly important to help ensure a safe environment.
Pandemic or not, personal hygiene helps prevent the spread of germs and disease. It helps technicians reduce the likelihood of injury due to exposure to chemicals and contaminants. Skin allergies, skin conditions and chemical sensitivities can be avoided through proper care.
The foundational principle on the importance of good hygiene is to help an individual avoid exposure by forming a barrier over the skin. This is accomplished with personal protective equipment (PPE) and common safety gear such as gloves, coveralls and full-coverage footwear.
Avoid touching your eyes, face or mouth with gloves or hands that are dirty. Wash your hands thoroughly and use barrier creams to protect your skin when necessary. Not doing so can result in industrial rashes and other irritation.
When in the workplace, be sure to check your PPE often for any wear, tears, cuts, excessive contamination or other damage. When working with irritants, be sure to clean and decontaminate equipment often so it doesn’t absorb anything. If gear or coveralls get overly soiled, change into clean gear. Appropriate dress for employees is important to ensure their safety. For shops that don’t require coveralls, policies should be enforced to protect workers from “wardrobe malfunctions.”
Loose sleeves, dangling jewelry, untucked shirts, drawstrings -– all of these can get caught in shop equipment and cause injury or even death. This includes hair. Long hair (even very long beards) should be pulled back to avoid getting entangled in any machinery.