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While jewelry makes a fashion or personal statement for men and women, such adornments are best left at home when it's time to go to work on certain jobs. Even watches and rings can be a safety or health hazard. Many workplaces require employees to shed the baubles, bangles and beads before starting their tasks, citing health and safety reasons.
Like loose clothes and hair, large jewelry can get caught in the moving parts of machinery. When this happens, necklaces, bracelets, watches and even rings can cause the loss of a limb or finger. But while most industrial plants require employees to remove watches and other jewelry as a matter of course, this is also an issue in a relatively safe office. Jewelry can also get hung up in office equipment. Even when working on a car, your watch and rings can get caught on a moving or overheated part. Jewelry can also break off and damage equipment, or it can become a potentially lethal projectile when coming out of a moving piece of machinery.
All jewelry should be removed when you are working around live circuitry. Metal conducts electricity, and an electrical charge through a ring or metal watch band can be extremely hazardous. Severe burns can result. In addition, accidentally touching electrical contacts with metal jewelry can damage the equipment, especially important when working around computer parts.
Working Around Heated Surfaces
Metal also conducts heat, which makes it a hazard to wear jewelry while working around anything hot. This may include anyone working in a kitchen or handling a welding torch. A ring can become superheated and severely burn the finger.
Jewelry can create several safety hazards for those working around chemicals. A spilled or splashed caustic chemical can get under a ring or watchband, burning or irritating the skin. In addition, some chemicals, particularly chlorine and ammonia, can damage silver or gold jewelry.
Many food-handling companies prohibit the wearing of jewelry for sanitation purposes. Rings and watches provide hiding places for bacteria that may cause food-borne illness. Some food preparation companies allow a wedding band if the worker wears a glove to cover it. But in a food-processing plant, gloves may not be an option, so all jewelry usually comes off before the employee enters the work area.
Al Bondigas is an award-winning newspaperman who started writing professionally in 1985. His print credits include the "Mohave Valley Daily News" and "The Mohave County Standard." Bondigas studied journalism at San Bernardino Valley College in California.