Protective Working Clothes

The basic rule is to choose the clothing that suits the job. Working clothes for special work - particularly dirty work or welding gauntlets - must be supplied by the company.



Working clothes must protect against:

Working clothes must ensure:

The right working clothes under the right conditions

WarmthClothing should be light and airy (cotton) but should cover the skin sufficiently depending on the job to be done
ColdLayered clothing which insulates but allows the skin to breathe. The quality of underwear is extremely important
Varying temperaturesClothing in layers which allows the skin to breathe. Thermal underwear next to the skin
WindWindproof clothing
MoistureRainproof clothing which is water repellent but allows the skin to breathe
SunlightThe sun’s rays can cause cancer so the skin should be protected by wearing clothes that cover the skin, or use sun lotion
Effects of chemicals
Special working clothes for handling acids and bases. All chemicals can damage the skin and require working clothes/gloves that cover the skin and possibly goggles and breathing equipment
Mechanical effects
Hard-wearing clothing with reinforcement/protection on vulnerable parts (knee pads)
AccidentsDepending on the duty: fire and cut-resistant, high visibility (colour/ reflectors). Footwear should give sufficient protection

Other things to consider

Free movement

The appropriate size should be available. Clothes must not constrict and must ensure sufficient freedom of movement.

Clothes must be comfortable to wear, physically but also mentally. Sensible clothes can also be smart/fashionable which makes people want to wear them.

The more different duties workwear can worn for, the more useful it is.

Clothing should repel dirt and protect against skin contamination and be washable/dry cleanable.

Clothing is often designed promote the shipping company, indicate seniority or duty which can be important, but should not be so at the expense of general functionality.

More information about workwear

Everyone is different, culturally, physically and mentally. So choice promotes people’s motivation, though unsuitable choices or health risk should not be acceptable.
The correct clothing is crucial for ensuring that duties can be performed safely and take full account of health (Technical regulation on working aboard vessels).

It is ship management/company that is responsible for workwear aboard but crew must obey the instructions that are given. So time-honoured traditions (such as bare chests, open sandals, clogs etc.) do not constitute correct workwear.

Working clothes should be clean when put on. It is not too much to ask seamen to do their own general maintenance and washing.

Clothing aboard

Engine room
Boiler suit or long-sleeved shirt and long trousers or overalls.

On deck
Boiler suit or long-sleeved shirt and long trousers or overalls.

Mess jackets give protection against heat and burns. Long-sleeved shirts and long trousers. Short-sleeved shirts and shorts should only be worn where there is no risk of physical or chemical effects, such as office work, bridge /control room duties. It is important to make a workplace risk assessment to determine the right workwear.

Non-skid safety shoes with steel toecaps are a natural part of good, safe footwear at sea. In the galley, however, it is sufficient to wear non-skid shoes without steel toecaps.
There should always be easy access to the right personal protection.


Health and Safety Consultant
Master Mariner, M.Sc. Maritime Affairs

Vivek Menon

+45 3311 1833
+45 2960 7427