Protective clothing is clothing designed to protect either the wearer’s body or other items of clothing from hazards such as heat, chemicals and infection. Also, special clothes may protect the working environment from pollution and/or infection from the worker. Protective Apparels saves lives and this enables any wearer to reduce the risk of injury or death when faced by a wide variety of possible threats for example cuts from knife or a sharp object like a saw. Sometimes protective clothing is essential, sometimes the risk may be small, though considering the reasonable of modern protective textiles, even low risk employees can and should benefit from protective work wear. The benefits of wearing protective clothing are something which many employers use to protect their employees and colleagues. Many lives have been saved and thousands of injuries prevented through the use of cut slash and bite proof clothing. These garment offer protection from multiple hazards like cuts, slashes, abrasions, bites and grazes. Sometimes puncture protection or blunt trauma protection is added in the form of padding or shock absorbing materials. Puncture resistance is most commonly seen in protective gloves, though advanced textile based clothing will offer cut protection, and stop human teeth from penetrating the skin.
Things to be keep in mind when use of protective clothing
Protective clothing should be well fit and comfortable. Try it on before buying. In addition, the following should also be considered:-
- Is flexibility or movement affected?
- Is the clothing durable?
- Is cleaning of the clothing easy? And
- What types of under garments should be used with the protective clothing?
Read and understand the information on the labels on the protective clothing. Such information includes:-
- Product name.
- Trademark or other means to identify the manufacturer.
- Types of product.
- Business name or coding.
- International safety standard that the clothing conforms to.
- Symbols (to indicate the appropriate environment for using it and the level of protection).
- Cleaning instructions.
- For certain protective clothing, such as full body protective clothing for handling asbestos, the way of how to handle it after use shall be considered
Types of Protective Apparels
Protective clothing and equipment must prevent dermal (skin and eyes), respiratory (lungs) and oral (mouth) entry of the pesticide into the body. Therefore, the protective clothing and equipment must cover all of the operator’s body. The different kinds of protective clothing and equipment are described below:-
Fire and heat resistance Apparels
- During fire fighting, casting, welding or related processes, firemen or workers are exposed to fire and strong heat. To avoid burns and severe scalds, fireproof and heat resistant protective clothing should be selected. For adequate protection for the work concerned, the resistance of the protective clothing against flame, radiant heat or direct contact with other heat sources (such as sparks and molten metal) should be verified by the management.
- The design of protective clothing for welders and casting workers should be free of pleat or pocket to prevent sparks or splashes of hot metal generated from the work process from being trapped and burning holes in the clothing. For the same reason, breast pockets should have wide flaps; side pockets openings should be vertical.
Chemical hazard Protective Apparels
When selecting protective clothing against chemical hazards, the following questions have to be addressed:-
- Is the chemical in liquid or solid form (such as powder), acidic, alkaline or a solvent in nature?
- Is the protective clothing able to provide adequate protection against acid, alkali or solvent? And
- Is disposable or reusable protective clothing to be used?
- A lot of chemical-proof clothing material is impervious. Arrangement should be made for workers to work in shifts to avoid heat stroke resulting from exhaustion under high temperature.
Cold resistance Protective Apparels
When selecting protective clothing for a cold working environment, factors like temperature, humidity and strong wind have to be taken into account. In cold and highly humid environment, the following have to be considered in particular:
- Is the work light or strenuous?
- Is the work to be carried out indoors or outdoors? And
- Is the user exposed to wind chills or adverse weather conditions?
- Selecting suitable underwear is another important issue. When working in a cold environment, avoid wearing underwear’s made of materials that absorb moisture, e.g. cotton. Such material, after taking up moisture, will make the skin feel cold and stiff. In extreme conditions, silk and wool are the best materials for underwear.
- If workers perspire when laboring, man-made materials such as polypropylene that do not absorb moisture will make us feel warmer than cotton. The clothing material over the underwear should be of moisture absorbing material. The outermost layer is best made of breathable clothing material.
High visibility protective Apparels
Many accidents resulting in injuries and deaths occur when workers are working in environments where they could not be easily seen. When making work arrangements, it is important not to subject workers to such undesirable situations. If this is not practicable, workers should be provided with high visibility clothing.
Under the following circumstances, clothing with high visibility shall be used:-
- Workers working along highways to set up signaling system for directing traffic, performing road works or street cleaning.
- Workers who must be seen to avoid being subject to danger at work, e.g. workers assisting in the lifting of loads by cranes or handling containers at container yards.
- The degree of visibility, the fluorescent materials and the position of reflective strips should be taken into account when considering high visibility clothing. Reflective strips should be placed at the front and back. If workers need to bend down frequently, reflective strips should also be placed on the sleeves and trousers.
Maintenance of protective clothing
Wash protective clothing regularly to ensure that it is clean, hygienic and can provide adequate protection. Store it properly so that it can be more durable. Avoid storing protective clothing in the following environments:-
- High temperature
- Under direct sunlight
- With chemicals or chemical gases; and
- With rats or insects.
- Place protective clothing that is not frequently used into its original packing and store in designated places.
- Examine protective clothing regularly. If damage is found, replace it immediately.
- Follow manufacturers’ instructions on the storage and the durability of different personal protective clothing.