Protective clothing

Protective Clothing - What You Need to Know
Before You Buy, Check On


Employers are obliged to:
  • Identify the unavoidable hazards in the workplace requiring the use of body and skin protection.
  • Determine the type of protective clothing required for the specific hazard and involve employees in the selection process.
  • Provide protective clothing appropriate to the workplace risks.
  • Ensure that personal protective equipment provided to employees complies with the relevant European directives regarding the design and manufacture of PPE with respect to safety and health.
  • Ensure that employees wear the appropriate protective clothing at all times where hazards to the body and skin exist.
  • Take into account, and inform employees of, any risks which the PPE itself may create.
  • Ensure that PPE is used only for the purposes specified, except in specific and exceptional circumstances.
  • Ensure that where it is necessary for an employee to wear several items of PPE simultaneously, that the items are compatible with each other and continue to be effective against the risks involved.
  • Inform all employees of the risks against which the equipment protects and the level of protection afforded.
  • Ensure that employees are informed in the proper use, care and maintenance of clothing.
  • Arrange for training / demonstrations in the wearing of PPE.
  • Ensure that shared PPE does not present a health or hygiene problem for individual users.
Employees are obliged to:
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing at all times in areas where hazards to the body and skin exist.
  • Maintain protective clothing in good condition.
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure that PPE is returned to storage after use.


Hazard Analysis and Risk Assessment
The first step in selecting protective garments is a thorough and common-sense analysis of the unavoidable hazards in the work environment coupled with an assessment of the realistic level of risk each hazard poses. Remember to take into consideration any risks generated by the clothing itself – e.g. health risks, discomfort or obstruction in the use of protective clothing including poor adaptation, elevation of body temperature, perspiration, allergies, jamming in moving elements etc. It is important for the hazard analysis and risk assessment procedure to be adjusted to the practical demands of the work task. If not, you run the risk of either over-protection or under-protection – both of which may have serious consequences. Over protection may lead to immediate problems. For example, heat stress is a common problem in many industrial settings. The result may be that users do not properly comply with apparel wearing protocols by modifying or incorrectly using the garment to avoid overheating. Under-protection may lead to chronic health problems – for example, after years of low level exposure to certain hazardous substances. Common Hazards
  • Limited conspicuity/visibility.
  • Dust.
  • Chemical splash.
  • Gas, vapour and thermal exposure.
  • Cut, pierce, stab exposure.
  • Radiation.
  • Abrasion.
  • Lack of buoyancy.
  • Electrical risk.
  • Blunt trauma.


Protection Available
Normally protective clothing is classified in accordance with the specific risk for which it has been designed. The following types of generic protective clothing are available:
  • Protective clothing against mechanical risks.
  • Protective clothing against heat and fire.
  • Protective clothing against chemical risks.
  • Protective clothing against inclement weather.
  • Protective clothing against biological risks.
  • Protective clothing against radiation (ionising and non-ionising).
  • High visibility protective clothing.
  • Protective clothing against electrical risks.
  • Anti-static protective clothing.

Clearly a protective garment’s performance should be the most important selection criteria. However, “wearability” issues related to comfort, fit and style may have a direct impact on compliance with apparel-wearing protocols. For example, if coveralls don’t provide adequate breathability or if gloves don’t allow for hand dexterity, there is a chance that users will avoid wearing the protection if possible or modify it in some way and compromise its protective features. Wearability extends to garment fit and compatibility issues. For example, the sleeves on a garment designed to provide protection against chemical splash must not ride up to expose skin when the wearer reaches forward; gloves must be worn inside a coverall sleeve if the use scenario calls for heavy chemical splash exposure, to prevent the splash from dripping down into the cuff of the glove. Garment selection that allows wearers to express their individuality can lead to greater compliance. Providing a range of options in terms of colour and other style aspects gives the wearer control over how they look. When people are content with their appearance in PPE, it follows that they will be more likely to wear the PPE without modification. PPE that is perceived as stylish and attractive is more likely to be worn.


Chemical Protective Clothing

European standards have been developed based on test methods and performance levels applicable to PPE for each of the characteristics of physical and chemical protection tested.

6 types of garments have been defined for chemical protection garments:

  • Type 1: tight to gases.
  • Type 2: tight to gases, non tight joint.
  • Type 3: tight to liquids.
  • Type 4: tight to aerosols.
  • Type 5: tight to particles.
  • Type 6: tightness limited to splashes and particles.

The types are determined by submitting the entire garment to tests including:

  • Test for seams resistance. Test for squirt (Type 3)
  • Test for internal leak (type 1 only) Test for aerosols (Type 4)
  • Test for internal pressure (type 1 only) Test for particles (Type 5)
  • Performance test into practice Test limited for aerosols (Type 6)
  • Test for ease of movement in 7 stages


Tips on Sizing
What to measure? Quick measurement TIP
Height Dressed without shoes, measure standing next to a wall.
Chest Dressed in a T-shirt, you should measure with a measuring tape around your chest just below your armpits.
Waist Dressed in briefs or with trousers undone and lowered. Top raised, measuring tape where you usually have the waistband of your trousers.

If you are measuring for a one-piece suit, be sure to measure where you have your biggest measurement, perhaps around the stomach.
Inside leg Dressed in trousers but without shoes, measure standing next to a wall.


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