Having long hair when working around machinery can cause serious injuries and even death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employees to cover and protect long hair in certain settings to prevent it from getting caught in machine parts. OSHA works to prevent accidents like these from happening by developing guidelines referred to as the primary personal protective equipment standards. Outlined in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910 Subpart I, workers are required to adhere to these guidelines in hopes that the work environment can be free from unnecessary injury.
Dangers of Loose, Long Hair
Having long hair that is not properly secured can be extremely dangerous because it can become caught in moving machine parts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 5,000 deaths per year from workplace accidents, some of which involves workers being pulled into machines by loose clothing or hair. Additionally, workers’ hair becoming entangled in equipment, even when non-fatal, is a serious problem that can cause injuries such as scalping and facial disfigurement.
OSHA has set forth regulations so that this type of accident can be prevented. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees have securely fastened their hair. If they do not, employers can face hefty fines. Employees are required to cover and protect long hair to prevent it from getting caught in machine parts such as belts, chain and rotating parts. Employees are also encouraged to pay close attention to work pieces that have slots or other surface profiles that may increase the risk of entanglement. They should keep clothing, loose jewelry and hair away from rotating and moving parts, as they may become caught.
Hair long than four inches can be drawn into machine parts such as suction devices, blowers, chains, belts and rotating devices. It can even be drawn into machines guarded with mesh. Therefore, hair must be securely fastened with a bandanna, hair net, soft cap or the like. According to OSHA regulations, “securely fastened” means that hair is tied back into a bun or a knot without any loose locks. Ponytails are acceptable for the most part, though if hair is extremely long, ponytails may still be blown into a machine part by the wind or sucked in when the worker bends down.