A new Field Staff Dress Code for Carroll County government employees working in the field (outdoors) is about to be implemented, but it applies only to those “field ” employees within the Permits and Inspections Department. The new dress code mandates these employees no longer wear short pants, which makes high heat days more bearable, but wear jeans, dress or Khaki style pants at all times.
For these county employees this change will bring an increased hazard to their job in the form of heat.
From 2012 to 2015 Westminster has averaged 19 days a year which are 90 degrees or higher and this year Westminster is already above the average.
Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicates that heat conditions are important to employee safety and health and that heavier clothing contributes to heat stress. The new Field Dress Code makes employee work conditions less productive because they will need more water, shade and cooling opportunities and faster access to medical attention. It will put employees at more risk of heat related illness.
This rule should be reworked to focus less on ‘professional appearances’ and more on employee productivity and health, reducing rather than increasing employee and taxpayer risk.
Employees will not appear more professional when their new dress code makes them sweat more and need more cooling breaks, nor when they succumb to the heat more easily.
The danger is addressed in the OSHA web site on heat illness:
Most people can work safely when the heat index is <91°F with only basic measures for worker safety and health, as required by the OSH Act. As minimum measures, employers have a duty to:
- Provide adequate amounts of drinking water in convenient, visible locations close to the work area.
- Ensure that adequate medical services are available. Where medical services are not available within 3-4 minutes, have appropriately trained personnel and adequate medical supplies on site.
- Additional precautions are advisable based on site conditions, work load, and protective clothing use:
- Moderate Risk Conditions exist if heat index is close to 91°F OR work is being conducted in direct sunshine or without a light breeze.
- Follow additional precautions for workers wearing heavy or non-breathable clothing or impermeable chemical protective clothing because they are at greater risk even when the risk to other workers is lower. Workers in heavy, non-breathable or “impermeable” protective clothing can experience heat-related illness at temperatures as low as 70°F.
Contact the commissioners at firstname.lastname@example.org to comment on this new dress policy before it is implemented this week.