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Protective Clothing

1.0 Introduction

The purpose of protective clothing is to prevent harm to the body from potential exposures associated with hazardous work. Protective clothing should be used for protection from most types of work with chemicals. The garment should resist these hazards, be relatively comfortable and allow the execution of manual tasks. The first step in selecting protective clothing is to determine the hazard, evaluate the potential for exposure and select the degree of protection required. The consequences of direct skin contact with the chemical must be evaluated. The effects of skin contact can range from minor diseases like dermatitis to systemic poisoning and cancer. Specific information concerning resistance to various chemicals is available from the Safety Office or the manufacturer’s catalog.

2.0 Procedures

  1. Chemical Exposure. Employees who handle chemicals that may cause burns, skin irritation, or may be harmful to health must be protected by suitable protective clothing.
  2. Blood. Gowns, aprons, and other protective body clothing will be worn in occupational situations in which exposure to blood is reasonably anticipated. Gowns should be made of, or lined with fluid resistant material. If a garment is penetrated by blood or other potentially infective fluid, the garment shall be removed immediately or as soon as feasible
  3. Minimum protection. Personal work clothes should fit the work assignment. The minimum protection required is a full short sleeve "T" shirt and long pants. This will provide some protection from sunburn, plant rashes, abrasions, insect bites, and chemical splashes. Supervision may approve the use of short pants if it does not create an undue safety hazard.
  4. Laboratory coats. Laboratory coats are used primarily to protect clothing and offer only limited protection from minor chemical splashes and dust.
  5. Rubber and plastic aprons. Aprons should be used to provide splash protection from strong corrosives such as concentrated acids or bases.
  6. Tyvek disposable garments. Ordinary Tyvek provides protection from particles and splash protection from many chemicals but it is not impervious to chemicals. It is lightweight, comfortable, economical and resistant to tearing. Ordinary Tyvek however, provides only limited protection from vapor penetration and should be used with caution. Typical applications include asbestos removal, general maintenance work, paint spraying, and food handling. Although classified as disposable Tyvek garments can generally be worn several times if used with care.
  7. Coated Tyvek. Tyvek also comes with various coatings that offers more chemical protection than the uncoated variety. For example PE coated Tyvek can be used for dilute acid handling, tank cleaning and pesticide mixing. Saranex coated Tyvek can be used for handling PCBs and concentrated acids.
  8. Storage. Protective clothing should be stored in an area away from regular street clothes. Clothing designed to protect employees from exposure to chemicals and blood should not be taken home.