The importance of selecting the right protective garments cannot be overstated. These essential components of workplace safety are not one-size fits all and must be carefully chosen to match the specific risks and applications at hand. Whether shielding from hazardous chemicals, flames, or static – making the correct choice of protective clothing is paramount to employee wellbeing.
Protective Clothing Standards
Standards are a clear and universal way to ensure that the protective clothing selected is fit for use. Garments are labelled with easily identifiable pictogram shields and user information sheets that show the level of protection the garment has achieved. The chemical clothing standard includes elements focusing on the material’s mechanical strength, garment design, and chemical permeability. This gives confidence to all who use these garments allowing for an easy comparison between different items to find the best product for use.
The Chemical standards are divided into 6 main types of protection, a single suit can meet multiple types or classes, so it is key that end users pick the right level of protection for their application. The lower the number, the higher the level of protection received. For example, Type 1 provides protection against gaseous chemicals whereas Type 6 protects against low-volume splashes. Depending on the type met, the manufacturer may recommend the garment/s are worn with additional PPE. This is detailed in the garment’s information sheet which should be consulted before use. Garments can also be tested against additional standards which commonly include protection against electrostatic, limited flame spread, and infective agents.
Selecting the right protective garment: A three-step process
The selection of protective garments should follow a three-step process:
- Identify the risks: What are the chemicals that will be encountered, at what concentration, and how long would they have before they could remove a contaminated garment?
- Understanding the application: What is the work being carried out? What is the environment like?
- Consider other factors: How long will the garment be worn? What will workers be wearing underneath their chemical garments? Is any other PPE required?
A comprehensive risk assessment, encompassing the environment and exposure duration, is crucial in determining the necessary protective garment.
Materials, design, and applications
Our garments are designed with chemical protection as the foundation of everything we do. We understand that fabrics can have a huge impact on the work environment and the level of protection provided, and this is why our ranges are identified by their fabric type.
- Coating type: The coatings used on our fabrics have different properties and weights, which ensure each material is suitable for its end application. For example, we have a range of garments made from EPVC which provides stretch within the coating, allowing for a more comfortable garment. In another range, we have focused on adding additional lacquers to increase the protection provided against animal fats which historically cause traditional PVC to break down faster.
- Material weight: Weight is another key focus, the heavier the fabric, the longer the breakthrough protection time is provided. However, a fabric that is too heavy can cause heat stress within a workforce where the job is more active or in a heated environment. Our range includes fabrics at all weights to ensure that there is something suitable for every application.
- Garment design: Our garments are designed to allow as much freedom of movement as possible, as well as being compatible with other PPE. We understand the wearer is likely to be wearing gloves, so we offer multiple cuff styles to ensure each user can find a compatible system for their task. We also ensure all hoods have a shock cord drawstring which allows the hood to be pulled in around a full-face respiratory system.
- Garment construction: Our seams are fully sealed with high-frequency welding to prevent any leaks. Our garments have a double storm facing covering the zips to ensure that there is protection at the weakest areas.
All these factors create garments that are designed to last, allowing them to go through a simple decontamination process and be used again.
Choosing the right protective garments requires a thorough understanding of the risks, the nature of the application, and any task-specific factors, which collectively determine the appropriate protective clothing for a given scenario. Prioritising these considerations is essential for creating a safe and secure work environment while minimising potential risks to workers. Failing to select the appropriate garments can expose workers to unnecessary dangers and increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and long-term health issues. To ensure the well-being of employees and compliance with industry regulations, it's imperative to carefully assess the specific risks and hazards present in a workplace environment.
Globus 360 Programme
Ensuring PPE is compatible is also a necessity. The Globus 360 programme can help you assess and decide what PPE is required for your specific industry and application, with a thorough assessment and ongoing support provided.
To find out more about the Globus 360 programme, click here.