What is ANSI Sizing, and does it matter?

ANSI sizing is a national standard for limited-use and disposable coveralls. The standard provides minimum sizing, packaging, and labeling requirements for limited-use and disposable clothing.

To understand the concept, it’s important to understand what ANSI is and what they do. ANSI stands for American National Standards Institute. It was established in the early 1900s as a method of standardizing electronics and electrical products and services. Today, it applies to a much more extensive range of systems, processes, and products intended for industrial and consumer use. An American National Standard is intended as a guide to aid the manufacturer, the consumer, and the general public. These standards are subject to a periodic review every 5 years.

As an organization, ANSI does not actually establish these standards, it simply lays out the framework for these standards to be developed. It then accredits organizations that have developed national standards that are based on this framework. These standards are processed and approved using consensus procedures required by ANSI. The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) is the accredited organization and secretariat for this standard and the actual review and writing of the standard falls under the responsibility of The Protective Wearing Apparel Group at ISEA. ISEA membership is comprised of leading manufacturers and sellers of safety equipment.  

While ANSI standards are common, they are strictly voluntary. Manufacturers are under no obligation to adopt their principles – but those that do are able to label their products and processes as ANSI standardized, telling the end user that the product they are using is made and issued with integrity.

What is ANSI sizing?

In garment sizing, there is a great deal of confusion as to what the “true size” of an article of clothing might be as it varies so much from manufacturer to manufacturer. While we want to expect that a size 10 dress will be a size 10 dress, no matter what manufacturer is making it, the fact is that not every clothing maker operates under the same standards. The same applies to protective apparel.

ISEA is an ANSI accredited developer that sets standards for minimum clothing sizes based on body measurements. A table exists that is based on these measurements that are meant to serve as a sizing guide for manufacturers. These measurements are for a minimum starting place for sizing but don’t preclude a manufacturer from exceeding these measurement guidelines.

Why is ANSI/ISEA sizing important in protective apparel?

Safety and protective apparel will likely never see a runway—unless it’s the kind you see at the airport—so vanity, as far as sizing goes, is far less important than having a proper fit.

Having work and safety apparel that fits properly is important because:

  • Well-fitting garments minimize your risk of exposure to hazardous materials and conditions
  • Proper fitting coveralls allow you to perform your tasks without having to adjust or accommodate the garment
  • Well-fitting garments are more comfortable, workers that are comfortable are more likely to wear the garment – leading to higher compliance.
  • Garments that are too loose may bag, bunch, rip, wear out too quickly, or fail to protect the wearer.
  • Workers may remove ill-fitting garments and expose themselves to hazards in the workplace
  • Garments sized true to ANSI sizing standards are typically larger than those not. As a result an ANSI Large may be as big as a non ANSI sized Extra Large. Smaller sizes cost less and thus can reduce cost of use.

When you purchase ANSI/ISEA sized clothing for your workforce, you can be certain that each garment is sized according to a national standard. Standardization makes ordering and provisioning easier, taking the pressure off management to adapt to an uncertain sizing system.

Properly sized protective apparel is an investment in safety and productivity. You will be supporting your workforce with well-fitting garments, ensuring they can do their jobs in comfort while meeting safely mandates. Copies of this standard can be purchased from ISEA. For more information, reach out to International Enviroguard today.