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Published June 10, 2015, 10:12 AM

Dress for the job on dairies

A good share of dairy producers, are now providing their employees with some type of uniform. When deciding what their employees should wear while working with their dairy herd, Tracey Erickson, SDSU Extension Dairy Field Specialist encourages dairy producers to consider safety and comfort.

By: SDSU Extension Service ,

BROOKINGS, S.D. - A good share of dairy producers, are now providing their employees with some type of uniform. When deciding what their employees should wear while working with their dairy herd, Tracey Erickson, SDSU Extension Dairy Field Specialist encourages dairy producers to consider safety and comfort.

“If you are going to be outside for more than an hour, even on cloudy days you will want to consider wearing a hat with a brim around the entire cap, to provide some protection from UV rays and potential skin-damaging sunburn,” Erickson says.

She adds that eye protection should also be considered.

“Safety goggles or glasses should be required by all employees,” Erickson said. “Employees often deal with many different chemicals or hazardous objects that have the potential to ‘propel’ and could possibly end up in the eye.”

When it comes to eye protection, Erickson reminds readers that there are many types available in the market.

“Remember, if they are not comfortable and affordable they will not be purchased or worn.”

Dress in layers

Because employees and producers are often exposed to varied risks within their job, Erickson says clothing should be fairly tight fitting and free of tears or strings that can become entangled in PTO's or caught on equipment.

“Durability, along with breathability, is important when selecting fabric,” she says. “Remind employees, that when they are buying coveralls, to take into account, the ability to put on layers of clothes underneath them.”

Finding the perfect fit may take a little effort.

“Even though we want clothing that fits and is not baggy, it needs to allow the person to sit, stretch, squat and bend,” Erickson says.

Footwear

Oftentimes, we talk about wearing leather boots and hard soles to protect our feet in case an animal steps on them or while operating equipment. But Erickson says leather might not provide the best protection if the primary job of the employee deals with a lot of moisture and chemicals, such as the milking parlor or the free-stall barn.

“Rubber boots with non-skid sole, and some arch support are good choices, as they protect the foot from excess moisture and can be easily cleaned,” she says. “Steel toed rubber boots, should be considered if available, as they add extra protection if stepped on by an animal.”

She adds socks that help wick moisture away from the foot are also important; otherwise employees could end up with athlete's foot due to the high moisture environments that they work in.

Hands

On a dairy, employees working in the milking parlor should wear rubber gloves.

“The increased amount of moisture exposure and chemicals used in pre and post dipping of the udder and sanitation of the equipment will damage the skin,” Erickson says. “If employees are not working with chemicals, other types of gloves are OK.”

There are many styles, including cotton, leather, rubber, nylon, or a combination. Things to consider are fit, durability, protection provided given the hot or cold environment and price.

“Other protective items that should be provided to employees are dust masks because of the dirt, dust, and molds in the environment in which work is being performed,” Erickson says. “I also encourage everyone to consider sunscreen. Even though this is technically not a type of clothing, it is still an important piece on the attire that should be worn with constant exposure to the sun.”

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