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A fashion faux pas in the laboratory

We’ve all seen how fashion trends can sometimes infiltrate the laboratory or medical facility. Crocs, for example, have been one of the most debated fashion statements in the healthcare setting [1].

So it’s no surprise that a certain style of scrubs have fallen into this category as well.

I recently received a question regarding capri style scrub pants (which cut off just below the knees). This supervisor wanted to know if laboratory techs and phlebotomists are allowed to wear these as long as they wear closed-toe shoes.

Although there is no regulatory requirement about the length of scrub attire, OSHA or otherwise, scrub pants that don’t cover the entirety of the worker’s legs are a safety and infection control concern. Years ago scrub dresses were commonly worn, but those haven’t been around since the ‘70s.

The bottom line is full length slacks would better serve the employee especially when he or she is dealing with caustic chemicals. Although scrubs are not considered PPE, they do provide protection in some way. With capri style pants the worker would have no barrier against a chemical, blood, or bodily fluid spill.

Ultimately this fashion statement can bring up a number of employee safety and infection control issues. As a supervisor your best bet is to create a policy and include it in your facility’s dress code.

For more info on safety and infection control issues related to scrubs read Peg Luebbert’s post, “Where to wear scrubs. [2]