Wearing Work Clothes Home - Should You?
Invisible hazards in the workplace – what are they and how can we protect ourselves and others from encountering them? Keep reading to find out!
When was the last time you thought about what you wear to work? Probably recently – every morning we make decisions about what to put on before we leave the house. When deciding what to wear, we consider factors such as the weather, the tasks, and activities planned for the day, and comfort.
But what about what you wear home? Most of the time, this isn’t something we think about – we wear home what we wore out of the house. However, if you work in an industrial environment, or are exposed to certain hazards in the workplace, what you are wearing when you leave work at the end of the day is something you should think about.
Why Is This Important?
Many hazards in the workplace don’t stay there when you leave…they can hitch a ride home on clothing as well as skin, hair, and shoes. Asbestos, lead, paint fumes, weld fumes, pesticides, even bacteria and viruses can adhere to surfaces when encountered at work. Because these hazards are invisible, many workers will not consider the hidden hazards they may be taking into their cars and homes.
Before awareness of the invisible hazards became well known, it was common for workers to unknowingly bring things like asbestos home on their clothing and shoes.
In 1897, the ill health of family members of asbestos workers was first noted. However, secondary asbestos exposure wasn’t officially recognized until much later in the twentieth century. In the meantime, workers exposed to asbestos would come home and hug their wives and children, sit on the furniture, and allow their wives to launder their work clothes. All of these activities exposed their family members to hazardous levels of asbestos fibers. This was unfortunately not realized until those individuals developed asbestos-related diseases decades later.
Nowadays, incidents of secondary asbestos exposure are few and far between. This is due to our increased awareness of the hazards associated with asbestos. The same cannot always be said for other less well-recognized hazards.
If you work in an environment where hazardous exposure is a concern, you should also be concerned with secondary exposure.
What steps can you take to protect your family?
The first is ensuring what you wear at work stays at work. If it is possible on your drive home, do not wear work clothing or footwear that has potentially been exposed to hazardous materials. Wash your hands and face thoroughly before leaving – if you can, take a full shower. If you can’t change at work, do so in the garage before entering the home. If you are required to launder your own work clothing, separate these items from the rest of your laundry. Any steps you can take to keep the contaminants away from home will help protect your loved ones.
Thank you for reading! If you have any thoughts, questions or comments please feel free to leave us a comment, or contact our team below!