Protective Clothing Guidelines from the EPA & OSHA

When it comes to keeping people safe, whether it’s on a daily basis in the workplace or essential teams responding to floods, hurricanes, oil spills and contagious infectious disease outbreaks, disposable protective clothing can play a vital role. It’s important to know about some of the government protective clothing guidelines to make sure you’re in compliance with applicable regulations. The rules governing protective clothing fall under the wider umbrella of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The EPA Initiates Government Protective Clothing Guidelines

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plays a key role in creating regulations to curb pollution and other forms of eco-damage that can affect human health and the health of the environment upon which all life depends. Because a large portion of its work has to do with regulating the use, handling and disposal of hazardous materials and contaminated waste, the EPA decided it needed a set of solid government protective clothing guidelines for the people who deal with these materials in the course of their work. Because the agency did not have expertise in this area, it asked another government agency to develop the regulations – one that already had a long history of developing workplace safety rules and regulations – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA Picks up the Task of Developing Government Protective Clothing Guidelines

As the primary government agency tasked with establishing and enforcing regulations for workplace safety and health, OSHA accepted the charge to develop government protective clothing guidelines. What the agency created was informed by the deep expertise of organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The adopted guidelines can be found posted in many different government agency website. For more information on the wider set of standards related to PPE, see the OSHA Personal Protective Equipment page.

Government Protective Clothing Guidelines Include Four Level of Protection

The system put in place consists of four levels of protection (LOP) lettered A through D, with Level A requiring the highest level of protection and Level D the lowest. The description of the LOPs of government protective clothing guidelines below were assembled from two sources, including the EPA’s Personal Protective Equipment Page and the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management PPE page within the Department of Health and Human Services:

Level A protection is required when the greatest potential for exposure to hazards exists, and when the greatest level of skin, respiratory, and eye protection is required. Examples of Level A clothing and equipment include:

  • Positive pressure (pressure demand), self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) (NIOSH approved), or positive-pressure supplied air respirator with escape SCBA.
  • Fully encapsulating chemical protective suit.
  • Gloves, inner, chemical resistant.
  • Gloves, outer, chemical resistant.
  • Boots, chemical resistant, steel toe and shank; (depending on suit boot construction, worn over or under suit boot.)

Level B protection is required under circumstances requiring the highest level of respiratory protection, with lesser level of skin protection. At most abandoned outdoor hazardous waste sites, ambient atmospheric vapors or gas levels have not approached sufficiently high concentrations to warrant level A protection. Examples of Level B protection include:

  • Positive-pressure (pressure-demand), self-contained breathing apparatus (NIOSH approved), or positive-pressure supplied air respirator with escape SCBA. 
  • Chemical resistant clothing (overalls and long-sleeved jacket, coveralls, hooded two-piece chemical splash suit, disposable chemical resistant coveralls.) 
  • Gloves, outer, chemical resistant. 
  • Gloves, inner, chemical resistant. 
  • Boots, outer, chemical resistant, steel toe and shank.

Level C protection is required when the concentration and type of airborne substances is known and the criteria for using air purifying respirators is met. Typical Level C equipment includes:

  • Full-face or half-mask, air-purifying respirator (NIOSH approved). 
  • Chemical resistant clothing (one-piece coverall, hooded two-piece chemical splash suit, chemical resistant hood and apron, disposable chemical resistant coveralls.) 
  • Gloves, outer, chemical resistant. 
  • Gloves, inner, chemical resistant. 
  • Boots, steel toe and shank, chemical resistant and/or disposable chemical-resistant outer boots.

Level D protection is the minimum protection required. Level D protection may be sufficient when no contaminants are present or work operations preclude splashes, immersion, or the potential for unexpected inhalation or contact with hazardous levels of chemicals. Appropriate Level D protective equipment may include:

  • Gloves;
  • Coveralls;
  • Safety glasses;
  • Face shield; and
  • Chemical-resistant, steel-toe boots or shoes.

International Enviroguard Disposable Protective Clothing

As noted in the levels of protection of government protective clothing guidelines described above, disposable protective clothing can be used primarily in levels B, C and D. Products from International Enviroguard that can be considered  ChemSplash® 1 and ChemSplash® 2 along with ViroGuard® and MicroGuard MP® ChemSplash® 1 offers impervious splash protection against light-duty chemicals, acids and hazardous particles, featuring high moisture-vapor transmission rate for better comfort and innovative suit designs to provide additional comfort. ChemSplash® 2 offers a higher level of protection against industrial, petrochemical and other heavy industries requiring protection from more aggressive chemicals, acids and caustics, featuring lighter and more pliable fabrics than other manufacturers, increased comfort in many hazardous environments, and a broad range of chemical protection.  Both ViroGuard® and MicroGuard MP® have been tested for several chemicals and can be part of your chemical protection protocol.

Another product line from International Enviroguard that applies to particle protection in controlled environments is the Body Filter 95+® which is a breathable garment providing protection from hazardous and noxious particulates.  It features a holdout down to 0.3 microns with up to 99% efficiency, which is similar to a N95 respirator.

Government protective clothing guidelines seem relatively straightforward, but when it comes time to choose what protective clothing your company will use to protect its workers, there is often confusion and frustration. We want you to know you can always contact us with your questions and we will do our best to provide you the answers you need to make good decisions when purchasing PPE for your workers. International Enviroguard helps you protect your people, productivity and operations with disposable products that fit your operation, your budget and your needs!