OSHA Regulations: Wearing Shorts & Long Pants in Construction

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OSHA Regulations: Wearing Shorts & Long Pants in Construction
OSHA leaves the regulation of work clothing up to employers in some cases. (Alistair Berg/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) leaves the regulation of protective clothing up to the employer except in construction situations involving asbestos and lead. The comfort of wearing short trousers versus long trousers must be balanced against safety concerns.

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OSHA General Regulations

Shorts and long trousers can be considered protective clothing. During construction, your employer may decide that long trousers are necessary for safety. Because construction conditions vary so widely, OSHA requires protective clothing and equipment to be worn whenever chemical, mechanical or radiological contaminants or irritants can cause injury through inhalation, physical contact or absorption through the skin.

OSHA Regulations: Wearing Shorts & Long Pants in Construction
Weather factors into clothing and safety during construction. (construction workers image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Asbestos Regulations

Your whole body must be covered if you are exposed to asbestos during construction, according to OSHA regulations. Respirators must be used. Clothing must be carefully packaged and laundered at the work site and be checked for any rips or tears. You may be able to wear shorts or long trousers underneath protective clothing.

OSHA Regulations: Wearing Shorts & Long Pants in Construction
Workers may have to wear complete protective gear when asbestos is involved. (abbruch image by Eduard Shelesnjak from Fotolia.com)

Lead Regulations

When working with unsafe levels of lead in construction, workers must wear protective clothing that shields their eyes and skin. Disposable shoe covers and coveralls may be worn over short or long trousers but the protective clothing can't go home with you or enter your car.

OSHA Regulations: Wearing Shorts & Long Pants in Construction
Skin must be full covered when working with lead. (construction worker image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Asphalt and Hot Tar

Summer construction work comes with heat stress dangers, yet working with asphalt or hot tar can burn the skin if it is exposed. Employers must balance the need to wear protective clothing such as long trousers, against extremely warm weather when construction involves laying asphalt or hot tar on roads.

OSHA Regulations: Wearing Shorts & Long Pants in Construction
Hot tar and asphalt pose burn risks. (worker road image by Emmanuel Lacoste from Fotolia.com)

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