Chemical Resistant Clothing: A Buyer’s Guide
There are many working scenarios that require employees to handle, or come into close contact with, dangerous chemical substances. Across construction sites and in other industrial settings, chemical resistant clothing is often a vital component of worker safety.
DON’T FORGET: Employers are responsible for providing, replacing and paying for PPE (personal protective equipment) for all employees.
There are a vast range of chemicals which can cause harm if they come into contact with unprotected skin. Skin irritation or damage is a common risk, as well as potentially toxic effects which can, in some cases, be lethal.
Some chemicals can pose additional threats, particularly if hazardous particles are airborne. For this reason, further measures, such face masks and respiratory protection, may also be necessary to prevent chemicals from being ingested or inhaled. Providing chemical PPE protects workers from these potential hazards.
DON’T FORGET: PPE should not be used as a substitute for adequate chemical control measures and should only be considered if preventative methods do not sufficiently protect employees.
Choosing the Right Equipment for the Job
Ensuring your chemical resistant PPE is up to the job starts with your risk assessment. This extensive exploration of risks in your working environment should examine which chemicals workers may be exposed to and allow appropriate protection to be chosen. The risk assessment procedure should also consider further factors such length of exposure to chemicals and decontamination procedures.
Check in with HSE’s COSHH Essentials reference site for further information on chemical types. The level of protection required depends on multiple factors including toxicity, permeation rate and whether particles are airborne.
Ultimately, when choosing chemical PPE, there should be two key questions to consider:
- Is this equipment suitable for the worker and the conditions of the job?
- Does it offer the right level of protection?
EU standards specify six types of protective garments within Category III of the PPE directive, marked by corresponding symbols. You’ll find these symbols next to protective clothing in our catalogue and on our website. The classifications indicate the suitability of protective equipment to specific hazards, with Type 1 being the most protective.
Chemical Protection Clothing Category III
EN943 Type 1/2 - Gas Tight
EN 14605 Type 3 – Liquid Tight (Jet Spray Test)
EN 14605 Type 4 – Spray Tight (Overspray Test)
EN 13982-1 Type 5 – Particle Tight
EN 13034 Type 6 – Limited Chemical Splash
Types of Chemical Protective Clothing & Equipment
Chemical resistant coveralls provide full body protection against chemical hazards as well as keeping clothes beneath clean and stain free.
Disposable coveralls are a good choice for visitors or when it’s impractical to decontaminate used suits. Quick and easy to use, there’s also no need to worry about maintenance with these one-use solutions. Make sure to check the classification, as not all coveralls are chemical resistant.
Hands are often a body part at high risk, especially when chemicals are being handled. Look for chemical resistant gloves to keep hands safe.
Respiratory/ Full Face Protection
As well as protecting the eyes and face from chemical contact, respiratory protection is a must when airborne chemicals are present. Refer to our technical specification sheet for more information on respiratory protection.
Key Points to Remember
- PPE must fit the wearer well, be comfortable and compatible with any other PPE requirements.
- PPE must not interfere with the job at hand or introduce its own risk (such as getting caught in machinery).
- Additional protective measures may be needed – is high visibility required?
- All PPE needs to be maintained and cleaned regularly to remain effective. Cleaning and decontamination procedures are particularly important with chemical resistant clothing.
- Employees must receive sufficient training to ensure they can use chemical resistant equipment correctly.
- Contact with chemicals will adversely effect PPE over time. Maintain regular inspections to check PPE integrity and talk to your supplier about product lifespan to help determine when equipment should be replaced.
Get Help from the Safety Specialists
At Enfield Safety, we have an extensive range of chemical resistant clothing to protect your team against chemical hazards. From disposable coveralls to gloves and respiratory protection, the range is designed to be comfortable, durable, easily cleaned and offer the very highest standard of protection.
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