There can be many reasons for using protective clothing. Under normal circumstances, the body is protected by the skin. However, our modern world has developed a variety of substances against which the skin alone does not constitute adequate protection. Some substances, such as solvents, can enter the body through the skin and subsequently cause allergies, poisoning etc. Other harmful particles and fibres, such as asbestos, are not absorbed through the skin but through inhalation. However, it is important to avoid that particles come into contact with the skin as they are difficult to remove. Even after a bath, there will still be particles or fibres left. It is therefore vital that you are aware of particular substances that are involved in the process.
Before starting work, carefully assess the risks that you have to protect yourself against in order to select the right protective clothing for the job. Typical areas where protective clothing is used include chemical handling, soil decontamination, disease control, oil management, industrial cleaning, tank cleaning, spray painting, pharmaceutical industry and agriculture.
All protective suits are produced and approved according to Category III. Within this category, all protective suits are divided into types ranging from 1-6, which indicate the degree of protection that each suit provides. Type 1 provides the highest protection.
All protective clothing have to be manufactured according to Category III in order to be designated protective clothing. This means that there are certain basic requirements for the design of the suit, which must be observed. If detailed instructions are attached to the suit in accordance with regulation, wheareas no type marking means that it can only be used to protect against ordinary dirt.
Description of the design of protective clothing intended to protect against serious or fatal risks. The suits must be type-approved.
Types 6 & 6B
Limited splash-proof protection. Protect when there is a risk of splashing on the suit, EN 13034. Type 6B protects against biologically contaminated particles, EN 14126.
Types 5 & 5B
Protect against harmful substances, EN 13982 Type 5B protects against biologically contaminated particles, EN 14126.
Types 4 & 4B
Splash-proof protection: Suits are approved for the saturation of a liquid that can condense on the suit. The suits must have welded seams. Penetration testing has to be conducted according to EN 369 to provide information on protection in relation to individual chemicals, EN 14605. Type 4B protects against biologically contaminated particles, EN 14126.
Types 3 & 3B
Liquid-proof protection: Suits are approved to withstand compressed fluids e.g. from hoses and nozzles. The suits must have welded seams. Penetration testing has to be conducted according to EN 369 to provide information on protection in relation to individual chemicals, EN 14605. Type 3B protects against biologically contaminated particles, EN 14126.
Limited gas-tightness. Suits prevent dust, liquids and vapours from penetrating at overpressure, EN 943.
Gas-proof suits: Fully sealed suits, EN 943.
Protects against biologically contaminated particles, EN 14126.
Protects against radioactive particle contamination in accordance with EN 1073-2 (not against radioactive radiation).
Electrostatic protection according to EN 1149-5 (with proper earthing).
The materials for the various protective suits and coveralls can be divided into woven and non-woven fabrics.
Because of their structure, woven fabrics do not give very good protection, as there will be holes in the 'corners' between structured yarns/fibres. Therefore, woven fabrics are not suitable for protection suits.
A non-woven fabric is a fabric whose fibres are completely unstructured, but are distributed so as to be uniform. Such fabric will have a denser structure and provide better protection. Therefore, most fabrics used for protective clothing and coveralls are made from non-woven materials. The fibres are spun-bonded together to various degrees, which creates a dense fabric.
PP is a polymer that can be shaped into fibres usable for clothing and hygiene articles. Polypropylene used for clothing is made from non-woven material that does not absorb moisture, but transports it away from the body. Therefore, a PP suit is typically not dense enough to be tested and approved as Category 3 protective clothing. Disposable clothing of PP will only be used as protection against dirt and/or product protection. There are many different qualities/weights of this type of fabric.
Spunbond-Meltblown-Spunbond polypropylene. The fabric consists of 3 layers with a 0.1 mm fibre structure in the middle that has been melt-blown into a relatively dense structure. This constitutes the fabric barrier and is protected by a layer of spun-bonded PP on each side. Clothing made from SMS is suitable for protection against certain particles and the suits are relatively comfortable, with great breathability thanks to the 'leaky' structure. Because of the outer PP side of the suit (not smooth/repellent), liquids can penetrate, and particles can accumulate. SMMS Spunbond-Meltblown-Meltblown-Spunbond. The fabric consists of 4 layers. Like SMS but with an extra Meltblown core.
This is a 2-layer fabric. The protective layer is a microporous polyethylene film of 6-20 μm (EUR 0.006-0.020 mm). The film is fixed to a base layer of non-woven fibres. Suits made from this material provide adequate protection. The suit is smooth on the upper side, which prevents accumulation and penetration of particles and fluids. The suit feels impermeable because of the film. The film, however, may vary and therefore does not provide uniform protection. The thickness of the protective film, coupled with the fact that it is placed on the outside of the fabric, exposes it to physical impact. If the film gets scratched or worn, it ceases to protect. The fabric weighs approximately 60 g/m². May vary according to the manufacturer.
This fabric is made entirely of polyethylene fibres, which are pressed together using heat. This creates a unique 0.1 mm thick fabric with a uniform structure. In this case, unlike the other two materials, the entire fabric provides protection. Because of the effect of the heat, the surface of the fabric is completely smooth. Suits made of Tyvek provide adequate protection. The smooth surface prevents particles and fluids from accumulating on and penetrating the fabric. The fabric is strong and its structure makes it less susceptible to wear and tear. The material is more breathable than MF. The fabric weighs 41 g/m².
This material consists of Tyvek© 1431N with a polymer coating. The lightweight yet durable material provides good protection against hazardous particles and inorganic acids and bases, even under pressure of up to 2 bar. The fabric contains no halogens or mixtures thereof. The fabric weighs 84.6 g/m²
This material consists of Tyvek© 1431N with three added layers. A polymer coating, a Dupont© barrier film and finally a polymer coating. The lightweight yet durable material provides high protection against hazardous particles and inorganic and organic acids and bases, even under pressure of up to 5 bar. The fabric contains no halogens or mixtures thereof. The fabric weighs 117.5 g/m².
The material provides high protection against gasses as well as fluid and solid chemicals. This is a three-layer material with 100% non-woven polyester in the middle, coated with a strong barrier film on both sides. The material is used for making suits approved for type 1 for gas tightness, type 2 for limited gas tightness and type 3 for chemical protection. The fabric contains no halogens or parts thereof. The material is unique because of its light weight. The fabric weighs 331 g/m².