Basics of Disposable Clothing: Cover Your Assets

Certain work environments require higher levels of protection from hazards, chemicals, particulates, dust, dirt and grime. For workers that may be exposed to hazardous material, it is so important to make sure they have the protection they need to avoid serious health risks. Aside from respiratory equipment, eye and ear protection, having the right disposable protective clothing available to workers is often required by OSHA as part of a solid PPE program (1910.120).

Jobs that may require additional protection:

  • Labs, construction sites, chemical plants, paint and body shops
  • Hazardous waste clean-up and disposal, asbestos removal or pesticide application
  • Site survey, rescue, spill mitigation, emergency monitoring and decontamination

Exposure to splashes, spills, contaminated surfaces, or aerosols in the workplace can lead to health issues and/or diseases of the skin including contact dermatitis and even cancer. When workers are exposed to hazards on a daily basis, they need the right body wear to stay healthy, productive and be able to continue the job for years to come.

EPA has broken down PPE into different levels of protection: ABCD

Level A: Provides the highest level of respiratory, skin and eye protection from solid, liquid or gas chemicals.

Level B: Provides same levels of respiratory protection as Level A, but less skin protection.

Level C: Provides same levels of skin protection as Level B, but less respiratory protection. Not acceptable for chemical emergency response.

Level D: No respiratory protection, minimal skin protection. Not acceptable for chemical emergency response.

How to choose the proper clothing: Determine the chemical, physical and environmental hazards and duration of exposure.

The disposable clothing that is selected must be resistant to permeation, degradation, and penetration by the respective chemicals/hazards it will be exposed to. Once you identify the risks, you can tailor your PPE program.

  1. Level of protection: Decide what protection clothing must provide whether it be vapor, liquid-splash, particulate protection, or fire resistance.
  2. Full Body Protection: Do your workers need full body protection including hoods, boots, gloves and face shields? Would elastic wrists and ankles provide the best coverage?
  3. Design, Performance & Service Life: It is important to examine manufacturer data provided for chemical resistance
  4. Taped versus Serged Seams: Heat sealed tape seams typically provide a stronger seam and protection than the more economical serged, or sewn-seams.
  5. Read and understand the manufacturer’s technical manual:
    1. Inspection, maintenance, storage, training
    2. Benefits & risks
    3. Donning and doffing
    4. Decontamination
    5. Use


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