Working with chemicals can obviously be dangerous. As careful as you may be, accidents do happen. However, with the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) you can mitigate the risk of harm. There are a wealth of different elements of PPE designed to protect against chemical hazards and knowing where to start can be daunting. That’s why we’ve put together this top-to-toe guide to walk you through the different items of PPE you may need to consider.
This is usually a complete suit and is typically white or yellow. You can wear it over your normal clothes and it is generally a flexible, loose garment. It’s important to ensure the suit fits well as one that is too loose could catch on things, potentially knock things over and cause spillages. Equally, a suit that is too tight can restrict movement, inhibiting your ability to work effectively and to move freely.
When it comes to hand protection it is important to understand the kinds of chemicals you are likely to come into contact with. Different chemicals pose different risks and understanding what specific hazards you require protection from with enable you to choose the right kind of hand protection.
Many chemical safety gloves are made from rubber as it is resistant to many different types of chemicals. It is flexible, and reasonably comfortable allowing you to wear them for longer and therefore reducing the temptation to remove them and put yourself at risk.
Most chemical resistant gloves come in the shape of gauntlets that cover the wrist as a minimum. Many also come up to the elbows to provide even greater protection. Both types of gauntlets are intended to be worn over any clothing that may be on your arms, including your chemical safety suit.
A chemical safety mask is more than simply a cover for your eyes and mouth. Some chemicals are incredibly harmful should you inhale them and a wise investment would be a mask with an integrated respirator. When wearing a mask, ensure it is over the top of a protective hood so no skin is showing and your ears are covered.
If you are sure that inhalation definitely isn’t an issue, you may only require protection for your eyes, in which case goggles are a must. It’s important to ensure whichever goggles you choose are comfortable and do not obstruct your field of vision. You must be able to wear them comfortably for long periods of time as any temptation to remove them could put your eyesight at risk.
Respirators are available as separate units if you’d prefer a little more flexibility to your headwear. If you choose to go for separate respirator and goggles then you must make sure that the two can be worn together comfortably. It’s vital that they sit flush to your face and do not obstruct one another.
Feet are perhaps the most vulnerable part of your body when it comes to chemical spillages. Your body’s instincts will pull your face and torso away from harm but your feet may move very little or not at all. Because of this, you need a high standard boot that is resistant to chemical spillages.
Chemical-resistant boots are slightly different to standard work boots as they will have a coating which keeps them protected from corrosive materials. The soles may also offer extra protection to keep the soles of your feet safe.