WORKPLACE SAFETY: CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE SUITS
When it comes to getting a job done we can come across numerous complications. One of those is not being sufficiently prepared to carry out a task we’ve been assigned. Suitable risk prevention is vital. That’s why in this article we’re going to talk about safety in the workplace and more specifically, suits that protect against harmful chemicals.
Chemical protective clothing has a very specific function in that it protects people who handle or come in to contact with chemical products, whether gas, liquid or solid. Some harmful products can be certain minerals, paints, oils or a long list of other contaminants that workers are surrounded by on a daily basis.
According to INSHT (National Institute of Workplace Safety and Health), the main function of protective clothing is to keep harmful products from coming into direct contact with skin. It is important to remember that exposure to chemical products can pose a risk if they are harmful for your health, if they are absorbed through the skin or inhaled into the respiratory tract.
Choosing a chemical protective suit
It takes an expert in workplace health and safety to determine which type of protection is most suitable for each use. Carefully choosing work uniforms and analyzing potential risks is vital for the safety of workers.
The European Union has identified a total of six different levels of protective clothing, specifically identifying each type to indicate the protection it offers against any particular danger, whether gas, liquid or sprays. It is important to consider permeation and penetration, as well as physical characteristics of the chemical product –abrasion, breakage, resistance to traction, etc.– when choosing an suitable garment.
Does complying with the EU regulation for clothing mean you are fully protected from all risks? Not by a long shot, but it significantly lowers the risk ratio.
Classification of chemical protective suits
Chemical protective suits are classified according to design, requirements and features:
- Type 1. Gastight protective suits. UNE-EN 943-1:2003
- Type 1a. With breathable air supply independent of the ambient atmosphere.
- Type 1b. With breathable air supply.
- Type 1c. With breathable air supply and providing positive pressure.
- Type 1a-ET (for emergency team use). With breathable air supply independent of the ambient atmosphere. UNE-EN 943-2:2002
- Type 1b-ET (for emergency team use). With breathable air supply. UNE-EN 943-2:2002
- Type 2. Non-gas tight protective suit. With breathable air supply and providing positive pressure. UNE-EN 943-1:2003.
- Type 3. Liquid-tight clothing. Full-body protective clothing with jet-tight connections between the different parts of the clothing and, if applicable, with liquid-tight connections to component parts, such as hoods, gloves, boots, visors or respiratory protective equipment. UNE-EN 14605:2005 + A1:2009.
- Type 4. Spray-tight clothing. Full-body protective clothing with spray-tight connections between the different parts of clothing, and, if applicable, with spray-tight connections to component parts, such as hoods, gloves, boots, visors or respiratory protective equipment. UNE-EN 14605:2005 + A1:2009.
- Type PB  y PB . Partial body protection clothing offering protection against permeation of chemical liquids to specific parts of the body. UNE-EN 14605:2005 + A1:2009.
- Type 5. Chemical protective clothing resistant to penetration by airborne solid particles. The suitability of clothing type 5 must be determined for each specific chemical substance, as with certain highly dangerous aerosols, it may be necessary to use clothing type 1 to obtain the necessary level of protection. UNE-EN 13982-1:2004
- Type 6. Limited-performance chemical protective clothing. This is the lowest level of protection against chemicals, it is designed to protect against possible exposure to light sprays or low-volume splashes. UNE-EN 13034:2005 + A1:2009.
- Type PB . Partial body protective clothing, partial protection against liquid products. UNE-EN 13034:2005 + A1:2009