How To Choose Chemical Personal Protective Equipment

Dan Coconate, Contributor

photo courtesy of TG Technical Services

If you’re someone who regularly works around dangerous substances, you should know how to choose the right chemical PPE. Read on to learn more.

When you’re working around hazardous materials, it’s important to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is both your first and last line of defense against toxic fumes, biological hazards, and chemical splashes. Keep reading to learn how to choose chemical personal protective equipment for your job.

Know the Types of Hazards

Hazards come in many forms depending on your job. Nuclear radiation, blood, pathogens, drug paraphernalia, and toxic gases are all examples of hazardous materials. You may encounter hazardous materials if you work one of these jobs:

  • Scientist
  • Medical researcher
  • Pandemic first responder
  • Drug lab and crime scene cleanup
  • Asbestos and mold remediation
  • Bed bug removal
  • Chemical spill cleanup
  • Paramedic
  • Construction worker
  • Chemical plant worker

Nearly all hazardous materials fit into three categories: gases, vapors and liquids. Hazmat specifications don’t cover high-level radiation, because its particles can penetrate all kinds of clothing.

Protecting Against Liquids

To protect your body from hazardous liquids splashing onto your skin, you’ll need a hazmat suit that covers your entire body, minus your face. However, you’ll need to wear goggles or a face shield to keep your eyes safe.

Protecting Against Gases and Vapors

Vapors are just liquids suspended in a gas, so they require the same protection level as gases do. Since gases can penetrate your body through your eyes, nose and mouth, you’ll need to wear a mask and a respirator. If the gases are also hazardous to your skin, you’ll also need an airtight hazmat suit.

Choose a Hazmat Level

As you learn what to include in your hazmat suit ensemble, you’ll also need to learn about hazmat suit levels to choose the best PPE. Level A is gas- and liquid-proof. Levels B and C both protect against splashes and breathing in gases, but they aren’t airtight. Level D is essentially a pair of work overalls and a good pair of boots.

Consider Disposal

Most types of hazmat suits require special steps for disposal since gases and liquids may contaminate the suits. However, there can be some variation in how you must remove different kinds of PPE. For example, some have tear-away designs for easy removal. You may want to consider the disposal process for your hazmat suit for accessibility purposes.

Choosing chemical personal protective equipment is an important step in keeping yourself safe while on the job. It’s always better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough. IHW

About the Author:

Dan Coconate is a local Chicagoland freelance writer who has been in the industry since graduating from college in 2019. He currently lives in the Chicagoland area, where he is pursuing his multiple interests in journalism.

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