3 Tips to Pick the Right Protective Apparel

Safety leaders are looking for the best PPE to keep workers both safe and comfortable. They understand that comfort drives compliance and also makes for a more productive team member.

But how do you go about choosing the right protective apparel?  Keeping the decision simple and focused can be challenging but simply put, the decision should center on three key areas.

What are you trying to protect the worker from? 

Particles, dirt, dust, grime – and is any of it hazardous?  Or is it liquids – in overspray form or lots of liquids, maybe even under pressure.   Are some of the liquids hazardous, such as certain chemicals or maybe even body fluids, or blood?  Is the worker around sparks or flames? 

Which Fabric is needed for protection from the challenge agent?

Once the ‘challenge agent’ has been identified, the next step is to look at a fabric that will protect the worker and do it in a comfortable way.   If it is a non-hazardous dirt, dust and grime scenario that make up the majority of situations, there are several fabrics for the chooser to review including:

  • Polypropylene, which offers minimal protection in a minimally dirty area.  
  • SMS fabric, a breathable fabric with increased levels of protection over polypropylene should be considered.  
  • A breathable garment with a holdout of particles down to 0.3 microns with a hold-out in the range of 95-99% has been recently introduced.  This innovative fabric, Body Filter 95+® operates much like and N-95 respirator! For more information click here

For non-hazardous liquids, a microporous fabric will work, and it will also do well with liquids under pressure.  If the liquids are hazardous chemicals, then the chemical and its concentration level must be determined.  If the liquids are body fluids and/or blood, the choice of fabric should include those that pass tests (ASTM F1670 and F1671) to hold them out and the pathogens that may be in them. 

If the worker is around sparks and flame, they should have a primary FR garment to reduce the risk of the spark or flame potentially burning the wearer.  These necessary garments can be expensive to clean and also to replace if damaged.   There are disposables that are designed to protect the primary FR garment while also helping to protect the worker and keep them comfortable.

What type of suit construction should I look for?

One of the final considerations of the garment should be the overall suit construction. 

  • Is the shoulder area all one-piece, often referred to as a raglan sleeve?  No seams in the shoulder decrease the likelihood of that garment tearing or ripping. 
  • Is the crotch area reinforced?  Does it have a gusseted crotch, often seen as a triangular patch?  This allows for many movements common in a work area such as climbing, squatting, without having to be concerned that the garment will tear.  
  • Is there elastic in the back? Elastic in the back offers the chooser to buy the correct size and not have to ‘size-up’ because the worker may need to stretch or reach.  Seam construction is also key.  Standard serged seams offer adequate strength in most situations. 
  • Is the zipper exposed?  An exposed zipper in the front provides an opportunity for the challenge agent to reach the worker.  Look for a suit that has a storm flap that covers the zipper.

International Enviroguard is proud to offer innovative fabrics made into well-engineered designed suits that can help your team stay protected and comfortable, making compliance an easier task. For more information, contact us.