Job’s “Collar” Doesn’t Determine Potential Safety Risks

Despite many blue-collar jobs having high injury rates, a job’s collar has little connection to potential safety risks and the subsequent need for protective equipment. The US Department of Labor utilizes a term that can approximate a job’s collar in most situations. The agency uses the term job zone that applies to the length and difficulty of a career’s preparation time, training and education. According to O*NET OnLine, jobs can be classified along a range of one to five, with a job within Job Zone 1 requiring little or no preparation all the way to a job in Zone 5 which requires years of extensive preparation. Protective and safety equipment is necessary for a large number of careers, ranging from a leaf raker to an astronaut. Be aware of potential dangers whatever the tasks your job requires.

Protective Equipment Used by Example Careers in Different Job Zones

Job Zone 1

Jobs that are classified as Zone 1 positions are considered by the Department of Labor as those requiring little to no preparation in order to begin and perform the tasks adequately. This is decidedly not the opinion of some members who have worked in Job Zone 1-classified positions for many years. Especially in construction or similar jobs, workers cite the safety rules they must learn as well as subtle evaluation skills that help avoid some of the dangers of the positions. Other Zone 1 workers report a required learning curve whereby they learn to do their jobs efficiently.

  • Continuous Mining Machine Operators ($45,570/per year)
    • Self-Rescue Respirator
    • Reflective Miner’s Belt to hold self-rescue respirator and filter, camp light battery pack and tools
    • Protective Helmet
    • Camp Light System to wear on helmet
    • Combination Radio & Camp Light System to wear on helmet
    • Fresh Air Bay Portable, Inflatable Refuge Chamber
    • Various Barricades for use while awaiting rescue
    • Wi-Fi Tracking System built into protective helmet.
  • Maids & Housekeepers ($19,300/per year)
  • Gloves
  • Nose & Mouth Mask (optional) for use as needed when cleaning chemicals emit noxious fumes
  • Knee Pads (optional) if cleaning floors or carpets by hand

Job Zone 2

Job Zone 2 positions usually require a high school diploma or GED. Training may be required for up to a year and may involve an apprenticeship or formal “career school” that provides a certificate upon completion.

  • Pipe layers ($36,300/year)
    • Steel Toed Boots or Protective Footwear
    • Hardhat or Protective Helmet
    • Safety Glasses
    • Work Gloves
    • Hearing Protection
  • Flight Attendants ($38,020/year)
  • Evacuation Slides
  • Side Raft Packs
  • Window Exit Escape Ropes
  • Chemical Oxygen Generators
  • Portable Oxygen Systems
  • Protective Breathing Equipment
  • First Aid Kits
  • Automated External Defibrillators
  • Emergency Rafts
  • Flotation Seat Cushions
  • Life Preservers

Job Zone 3

Job Zone 3 careers are considered medium preparation positions and require one to two years of education or training for up to four years. Zone 3 careers also often require the satisfactory completion of an examination to confirm their skills and knowledge and a resulting licensure.

  • Acute Care Nurses ($65,130/year)
    • Disposable Aprons
    • Disposable Gowns
    • Gloves
    • Safety Glasses
    • Face Masks
    • Lead Apron during radiological procedures
    • Sharps Containers
    • Needle-less Systems
    • Antimicrobial Soaps and Gels
  • Commercial Divers ($55,940/year)
  • Scuba Suit
  • Diving helmet
  • Diving mask
  • Air Tanks
  • Gauges
  • Diver Harnesses
  • Equipment Harnesses
  • Signal Lines or Underwater Telephones

Job Zone 4

Considerable preparation is required the minimal starting point for Job Zone 4. Most positions under this category require a bachelor’s degree as minimal education and two or more years of work experience to be considered able to work independently.

  • Real Estate Appraisers ($53,410/year)
    • Hard Hats (occasionally)
    • Boots (for use in construction or undeveloped)
    • Umbrella
    • Mace or Chemical Protection against dogs or other animals
  • Chemists ($71,070/year)
  • Safety Glasses
  • Chemical Splash Goggles
  • Laser Eye Protection
  • Face & Neck Shields
  • Flame Resistant Aprons
  • Flame Resistant Lab Coats
  • Closed Toe Shoes
  • Negative Pressure Hood
  • Appropriate Gloves for Type of Protection Necessary
  • Respirators

Job Zone 5

Finally, Job Zone 5 careers consider extensive preparation, skill, training and practice. A master’s degree is normally the minimum degree level required to enter the career. Many Zone 5 positions require a PhD or a doctor of medicine or law degree. Five or more years of preparation are required with five to seven additional years of training plus an examination for licensure.

  • Accountants ($65,840/year)
    • Office Chair with Lumbar Support
    • Proper Height of Computer Screen
    • Wrist Computer Supports
    • Personal Protective or Safety Equipment (PPE) for outdoor tasks
  • Criminal Investigators & Special Agents ($63,840)
  • Metal Handcuffs
  • Plastic Handcuffs
  • Service Revolver
  • Mace
  • Tasers
  • Two way radios
  • Bullet Proof Vests
  • Gloves
  • Night Stick
  • Flashlight

Clocking Out

As demonstrated by this brief listing, protective and safety equipment may be a requirement despite whether your job is considered blue collar, pink collar or white collar. Be aware of job tasks, which might present an immediate or eventual injury and speak with your employer about injury prevention.

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