Years ago, my first good technical writing job was for a company that was contracting with Nabisco to produce computer-based training for a “bag in a box” line in Portland, Oregon.
The OSHA regulations for people on those lines were pretty strict; no jewelry; hair nets (and beard next, if you had enough beard); no loose clothing that could get caught in things.
And things, there were. Chain pulleys for the bucket conveyor that hauled the Cheez Nips and Wheat Thins from the conveyor belt (that hauled them from the bakery) to the scales, which had dozens of flipping, clanking lids and doors opening and closing every second, pouring product into bags; the pawls and arms and rotating cams of the machine that stuck the bags into the boxes; the pulleys and steel rods that shoved the boxes into packing crates for shipment.
(Oddly, there was no rule against grabbing a snack from the bucket conveyor).
While the plant followed all the usual rules and regs, I could see where wearing loose, flow-y clothing could cause a problem, opening Nabisco up to a world of liability (and the hapless worker to a lifetime without a finger, arm or head).
So I hear these stories…:
A group of Muslim workers allege they were fired by a New Brighton tortilla factory for refusing to wear uniforms that they say were immodest by Islamic standards.
Six Somali women claim they were ordered by a manager to wear pants and shirts to work instead of their traditional Islamic clothing of loose-fitting skirts and scarves, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a civil liberties group that is representing the women.
The women have filed a religious discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“For these women, wearing tight-fitting pants is like being naked,” said Valerie Shirley, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota chapter of CAIR. “It’s simply not an option.”
…and wonder – with no desire to be ethnically insensitive, mind you – “perhaps, ladies, there are fields you just shouldn’t seek jobs in? Jobs like oil-rig worker and Alaska crab fisherman and, perhaps, working in a food plant with (presumably) lots of equipment that long ago pushed the OSHA to ban, like, long flowing clothing in the workplace?”