Wearing the right work clothing and protective equipment is essential

Wearing incorrect work clothing and personal protective equipment can increase the heat load on the body and result in heat illness.

It is important for workers to recognize the types of work clothing and personal protective equipment that can protect them against the sun and heat exposure.

It is important for workers to wear:

  • Lightweight, loose fitting, and breathable fabric that allows airflow and air movement to cool the body. When working around combustible dust remember to avoid synthetic clothing which can ignite because of a flash fire or explosion.
  • Light colored clothing. Light colored clothing reflects heat better than dark colored clothing. Dark colored clothing absorbs heat.
  • Shirts with long sleeves that cover the body and prevent sunburn. Sunburn affects the ability of the body to cool itself and increases the loss of body fluid.
  • Wide brim hard hats or hats when appropriate to protect the head and shade the face and neck.

Sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15. SPF refers to the amount of time that persons will be protected from a burn. An SPF of 15 will allow a person to stay out in the sun 15 times longer than they normally would be able to stay without burning.

Make sure to apply sunscreen to the ears, scalp, neck, and other areas of exposed skin. Sunscreen should be re-applied every two hours.

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH: joe.mlynek@progressivesafety.us, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc.,
Olathe, KS; joe@safetymadesimple.com