• Question: why does a butcher and a doctor wear white coats when working

    Asked by Janel to Cheryl, Christina, Daniel, Ivy on 25 Jan 2017.
    • Photo: Christina Obiero

      Christina Obiero answered on 25 Jan 2017:

      Hi Janel,

      The white coats worn by butchers, doctors and other people working in places such as factories are part of the personal protection equipment (PPE) which ensure that the individuals clothes do not come into contact with external contaminants such as blood, chemicals and other harmful substances that may be easily absorbed into the skin and pose a risk to one’s health. Other PPEs used at the work place include gloves, face masks and goggles for the eyes.

    • Photo: Cheryl Andisi

      Cheryl Andisi answered on 25 Jan 2017:

      Coats are part of equipment and clothing referred to as PPE- personal protective equipment whose function is to protect the user against health or safety risks at work. Coats are worn by many professionals including scientists, teachers or even students and teachers in some countries to protect their street clothes.
      Why white? The answer is I do not know. However, the use of these coats started in medicine and white was used to symbolize “pureness”. Currently, since this symbolism does not really come into play, I would think these professions have stuck to using white coats because of the ease in cleaning and disinfection, and maybe recognition by patients.
      In modern hospitals, even though white coats are still very common, a lot of doctors prefer “scrubs”. Several studies have shown that white coats might modify a patients behavior and or attitude towards a doctor eg white coat hypertension is a condition where the patient has increased blood pressure because they have seen the doctor or are in a hospital setting. For this reason, psychiatrists for instance, avoid wearing white coast to increase rapport with their patients. Coats in the hospital have also been thought to increase the spread of hospital acquired infections.
      I think butchers wear white coats fro protection and also ease of cleaning.