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The only independent insulation industry trade magazine Insulate Columnist A Simple Guide to Coverall Selection Insulate Magazine columnist George Elliott, a technical specialist at science-based technology 3M, discussses protective coverall selection considerations for your workforce Within the insulation industry, many professionals work in close proximity to potentially hazardous chemicals and fibres, whether at the installation site or in the factory. When these substances come into contact with the skin, they can cause burns, rashes and related conditions, including dermatitis. Symptoms can include redness, scaling/flaking, blistering, weeping, cracking and swelling of the skin. For this reason, employers have a duty to reduce the level of exposure to such contaminants that their employees face. As with other potential hazards that cannot be eliminated, the first step should be to act to limit the hazard itself, either by substituting it for something less harmful or by introducing engineering controls. However, in some cases a hazard will remain even after such measures have been implemented. In these instances, full body protective coveralls may be required. Some people may assume that all coveralls are alike but there are actually many points to consider when selecting protective coveralls, just as there are with other types of personal protective equipment (PPE). And as with other types of PPE, the main thing to remember is that protective coveralls must be both adequate to protect against the hazards Adequate In order to identify those coveralls that are adequate, the first thing you need to know is the physical state of the contaminant that you are dealing with. It could be a liquid, a particulate, or a mixture of both. Next, you should consider the form of the contaminant. This should involve, for example, checking the percentage concentration of a liquid chemical. Additionally, assessment of the type of exposure workers possibly face should be undertaken. How much liquid could they potentially come into contact with? Could it be splash, spray or even jet exposure? 18 www.insulatenetwork.com
www.insulatenetwork.com Similarly, you need to know for how long workers will be exposed to the potential chemical hazards. Some may only come into contact with these chemicals occasionally, while others may work with them throughout their entire shift. When dealing with liquid chemical hazards, you should also consider the coverall’s permeation, penetration and repellence levels. Manufacturers should be able to provide this information and other data regarding their product’s performance when protecting against specific substances. Once you have gathered all this information, you can use it to identify what level of protection you require. When these substances come into contact with the skin, they can cause burns, rashes and related conditions, including dermatitis. The level of protection provided by a protective coverall is denoted by the ‘Type’ test they have undergone. The Type tests are: gas protection (Type 1), non-gas protection (Type 2), liquid jet protection (Type 3), liquid spray protection (Type 4), particulate protection (Type 5) and limited liquid splash (Type 6). Suitable Once you have narrowed down your selection of coveralls to those that are adequate, you must identify those that are also suitable for the individual and their working activity. When it comes to protective coveralls and suitability, one of the main things to consider is the thermal comfort of the user. Protective coveralls that are more breathable will be cooler and therefore more comfortable. This is important because employees who find their coveralls comfortable are more likely to wear them correctly. Those who don’t are less likely to comply with PPE requirements by, for example, removing the 19