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Protective Apparel FAQs
What are the main types of protective apparel and equipment?
PPE is classified into broad categories: eye and face protection, hand protection, body protection, respiratory protection, and hearing protection. Each category includes its own corresponding safety equipment.
What are the types of eye and face protection?
Eye protection is achieved by wearing eyewear specifically designed to reduce the risk of exposure to chemical splashes, laser radiation, and/or flying debris. There are four primary types of eye protection — of which each has its own limitations — including general safety glasses, laser safety glasses, chemical splash goggles and impact goggles. Full face protection is achieved by wearing face shields.
What are the basic types of hand protection?
Appropriate selection of gloves is essential to protecting hands. Chemically protective gloves are one of the most important tools to minimize dermal exposures to chemicals in research laboratories. Gloves should only be used under the specific conditions for which they are designed, as no glove is impervious to all chemicals.
It is also important to note that gloves degrade over time, so they should be replaced as necessary to ensure adequate protection. Laboratory personnel should use the information below, and manufacturer compatibility charts (found under useful resources in the above right menu), to choose the type and style of glove.
What are the four levels of PPE?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlines four distinct levels of PPE. Each category contains types of equipment employees should use to perform job tasks based on what they are likely to encounter in a given setting.
1. Level A
Level A PPE offers the highest level of protection against respiratory hazards, skin exposures and contaminants that can interfere with the eyes. Equipment users will wear a full-body suit and run an air respirator for airflow. Some of the main aspects of Level A PPE include:
Positive pressure, self-contained breathing apparatus approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Chemical-resistant bodysuit (fully encapsulated).
Steel-toe boots with outer chemical resistance.
Gloves with inner and outer layers that are chemical-resistant.
Hardhat or helmet.
2. Level B
B levels of protection have more of a focus on the respiratory system rather than the skin and eyes. Someone working near gasses would benefit most from this level of PPE. The main difference between Level A and Level B PPE is the kind of suit used to complete jobs. Two-piece suits, coveralls and long-sleeves protect from small chemical splashes.
3. Level C
Professionals take advantage of Level C PPE when an airborne contaminant is detected, but there is little to no threat to the skin and eyes. Workers call for a full- or half-face mask that will feed them air from a respirator. Opting for Level C PPE products gives you the same degree of skin protection as Level B PPE, which means it is unsuitable for a chemical emergency.
4. Level D
Level D is considered the minimum line of protection from hazardous environments. No air respirator is necessary for Level D working conditions. Employees will utilize coveralls, safety boots and chemical-resistant goggles for nominal defense.