Understanding the Importance of Chemical Protective Clothing
What is Chemical Protective Clothing?
Workplaces, especially industries, are a hub of hazards and mishaps. The reasons for these dangers can be many. Out of the many possibilities, chemicals are one of the huge concerns while working in an industrial workplace. Chemicals are usually a part of various industrial processes and operations, and employees have to handle & monitor them regularly. There is always a risk of injuries, especially burns, due to these chemicals.
How to protect the employees and workers from these hazardous chemicals? The solution is to use PPE. When talking about chemicals, there is a special type of PPE called chemical protective clothing that safeguards and minimizes damages due to chemicals. Chemical protective clothing increases the level of safety for the employees and the workers when they are exposed to hazardous chemicals. It is to be noted that complete protection may or may not be possible even after wearing chemical protective clothing.
Types of Chemical Protective Equipment
Various industries make use of chemicals in their routine. Agriculture, agro-based industries, fertilizers, pesticides, metallurgy, paper & pulp, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, food processing, healthcare, sanitary, research, and many other major industries involve direct use of chemicals in their processes. Depending upon the process the level of hazard and risk of a chemical is determined. For example, in a few metallurgical processes, concentrated acids are used. This increases the level of risk. While a few processes involve the use of dilute chemicals which are less risky to use and handle.
Find out more on the use of chemicals in industries.
So, based on these factors chemical protective clothing is classified into different types. These types are classified based on the body part these clothing intend to protect. The chemical protective clothing includes safety chemical resistant goggles, respirators, SCBAs, chemical protective gloves, chemical resistant protective suits & coveralls. This chemical protective clothing is again distinguished based on the state of chemicals. These chemical protective clothing are different for liquid (further classified into pressurized and non-pressurized) chemicals, solid chemicals, and various hazardous chemical gases.
Safety Goggles (Chemical-resistant)
Chemicals are highly dangerous for sensitive human parts and organs. Especially, for a highly sensitive sensory organ like the eye, chemicals can cause permanent damage. To avoid any such damage safety goggles which are chemical-resistant are used. These goggles are also called chemical splash-resistant goggles.
They are donned by an employee when there is a risk of chemical splash or spillage. This PPE for eye protection is specially designed for being chemical-resistant. Due to this, the material of construction of these goggles depends upon the chemical for which it is built to resist. In some cases, there is a range of chemicals for which these goggles can be equipped. Also, a few chemical-resistant goggles operate in a range of concentrations.
Respirators and SCBAs
A respirator is a type of PPE that restricts the entry of gases, fumes, vapors, particulate matter, dust particles, carcinogenic particles, radioactive particles, and other fine particles. Depending upon the type of chemical, the type of respirator may accordingly change. SCBAs are self-contained breathing apparatus used when the gases reduce the amount of oxygen in the air.
Respirators are classified on various parameters. For example, they are classified based on the regulatory agency that approves the respirator. The N95 respirator is approved by the US regulatory agency NIOSH, while the Chinese regulators govern and approve the KN95 respirators. European standards approve the FFP respirators.
For more details, check out our blog on Ultimate Guide on Respirators.
Chemical Protective Gloves
Chemical protective gloves protect the hands from hazardous chemicals. They are used while handling the chemicals. These gloves are considered to be the most important in chemical protective clothing as the workers & employees quite often are in contact with the chemicals, especially in the industries of research, food processing, and healthcare.
For more information on gloves, check out our blog on how to choose the right safety gloves.
Chemical Protective Clothing
It is responsible for covering the entire body to protect it from direct contact with the human skin. Chemical protective clothing includes suits and coveralls. There are two types of chemical protective clothing based on the number of uses. Disposable ones are used mainly in the presence of radioactive chemicals. The material of construction depends upon the chemical it is intended to resist and protect from.
Factors one should consider before choosing Chemical Protective Equipment
Before choosing any chemical protective equipment consider the following factors,
Type of Chemical
It is important to note that the type of chemical plays a key role in identifying the right material of construction for the chemical protective equipment. This helps in identifying both the type of hazard and the solution for it.
Type of Exposure
Every industry uses a different type of chemical. If not different, then at times they may use a chemical at a different concentration. The type of exposure also includes the state of chemicals. It may be in the form of a solution, foam, powder, vapor, fume, or even a gas. Even the concentrations of the chemical exposure help in determining the right chemical protective equipment.
It is the time taken for a material of construction (of the PPE) to degrade when exposed to a particular chemical at a fixed concentration. The material of construction may crumble, weaken, dissolve, break, or even change its form when exposed to the chemical. So, the material of construction (of the PPE) should be such that there should be minimal effect on the material due to the chemical. The material of construction (of the PPE) should be resistant to the chemical.
Ease of Movement (while wearing chemical protective equipment)
Workers and employees should not be compromised with their comfort, dexterity, and movements which can affect their performance and efficiency. So, the chemical protective equipment should be such that it should provide the least hindrance for the wearer.
The time taken by the chemical to penetrate through the material of construction (of the PPE), and contact the human skin is the breakthrough time. Every chemical protective equipment provides the necessary information on breakthrough time.
Also, find out about the permeation rate.
Industries that often use chemicals in their operations and processes should use chemical protective equipment to safeguard their employee’s safety and health. After identifying the number of types of chemical protective equipment, the employer should also take into account various factors before procuring chemical protective equipment. This equipment should be bought from manufacturers or stores that offer medically CE-certified and FDA-approved equipment just like True PPE USA.
Stay Safe! Stay Healthy!