Faced with a huge array of potential hazards, a bewildering choice of protective clothing and the complexity of the certification information, what criteria should be used to select the right protective clothing?

Workers can potentially be exposed to a multitude of the workplace and environmental hazards. These include asbestos, dioxins, oils, lubricants, paints, blood and biological hazards, nuclear, phytosanitary products, organic chemicals, heat and flame risks and there are many different factors such as concentration, temperature, a pressure that can have a significant influence on the risks posed by these threats. In addition, the physical nature of these threats can take many forms including liquid, gaseous, fine dust, solid particles, fibres, sprays, aerosols, splashes and radioactive particles.

In many workplace environments there are multiple protection requirements that need to be considered and, of course, every hazard environment and every exposed person is different. Which means that the choice of protective clothing has to take into account a host of physiological and psychological factors that combine to influence a garment’s effectiveness and its ‘wearability’ in ‘real life’ exposure situations.

The fact that all of these complicated and interactive factors must be considered as a whole makes the selection of the optimum protective clothing an extremely difficult and daunting task. To ensure that all the appropriate precautions are taken requires thorough workplace risk assessments to be conducted at periodic intervals to ensure the short-term safety and/or long-term health and well-being of the workers. This process of selecting, and regularly reviewing protective clothing that is safe, effective and comfortable, is an extremely important task and should never be overlooked or undervalued.

Within the context of an overall risk analysis, 9 STEPS should be followed (in alignment with national legislation/ recommendations) to arrive at the most appropriate protective clothing.

Step 1: Hazard identification

Step 2: Determine minimum levels of protection needed

Step 3: Assess hazard toxicity warning

Step 4: Determine protective performance requirements of the fabric and seam

Step 5: Determine mechanical performance requirements

Step 6:  Comfort considerations

Step 7: Supplier selection

Step 8: Identify the correct usage of the product

Step 9: Wear test

DuPont offers a range of support tools to assist with risk assessment and garment selection: ranging from web-based tools and on-site risk assessment support with DuPont Personal Protection specialists and chemists to chemical permeation barrier testing for your specific chemicals. Get in touch with your local Greenham Service Centre to get help.

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Disclaimer: The information provided through Greenham Pulse is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Greenham Pulse is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.