What is the correct PPE to wear in the workplace

September 2, 2013

What is the correct PPE to wear in the workplace | September 2013 Health & Safety Corner

Chemical protection: The Four Key Parts

Chemical Storage | Personal Protective Equipment | Chemical Safety 

Tom Hanley 2Workers in a wide range of industries can be exposed to chemicals which, unless the proper control and protection measures required by law are in place, pose a range of skin and other health hazards. Here Tom Hanly, Director of Training for Chemstore Environmental, explains how the company sets out its four steps to proper chemical protection.

There are a number of health issues that can affect employees exposed to hazardous chemicals. These range from burns to the skin and skin cancer to diseases of the heart, kidneys, circulatory and nervous systems as well as poisoning as a result of chemicals passing through the skin.


Prevention is always better than cure, but there are situations and processes that necessitate workers having some contact with potentially hazardous chemicals, thus making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) essential. Ensuring that these situations are identified and the correct type of protective coveralls chosen can be achieved in these four key steps.

1. Risk assessment

Health and safety procedures always should be based on a documented process of risk assessment. In determining the need for chemical PPE Suitprotection, identifying any hazardous substance a worker may become exposed to, noting product labels and the information provided by them, is a must.

Just who might be exposed to a hazardous substance also needs to be reviewed. Exposure can range from a single brief contact with a corrosive substance, such as wet cement, strong acids and strong alkalis, that cause burning, to regular contact with mild irritants or even prolonged contact with water.

Everyday tasks – such as spray painting in body shops needs to be assessed. Therefore, the need for PPE is self compulsory. It is essential that risk assessments are carried out in all circumstances and any need for PPE identified as a matter of precaution and not in reaction to an incident.

2. Control measures

Prevention is the best cure. Controlling issues starts with elimination or substitution of the process or substance involved. After any control measures are in place, the final recourse is safety equipment and PPE.

Always when considering chemical hazards, the appropriate PPE is a protective coverall and this is known as a controlled measure. Sometimes this may mean that a higher protection type of coverall is required, but this is not always the case, so careful assessment needs to be undertaken.

3. Selecting PPE

Knowing what PPE to wear is hugely important. To ensure the correct level of protection, the first step is to identify the specific chemical hazard that it needs to protect against. This is essential to ensure that the PPE provides adequate protection and that it is capable of managing exposure to acceptable levels. The equipment must also be suitable for the environment, the task and, most importantly, the wearer.

Each type of PPE has its own standards and products can be approved to more than one standard and type. There are also a number of material requirements such as abrasion resistance, strength and puncture resistance.

4. Training

All companies need to do more than just identify and assess risks and then provide the PPE most suitable to the situation. Employees should also be properly trained to understand why they need PPE and how they should use it.

As mentioned it is of the highest importance that workers and co workers understand the level of protection required. Coveralls that offer protection against chemical hazards are designed for one-time use only, yet this is often ignored and coveralls are worn repeatedly, meaning that the wearer may not be fully protected.

Visit www.chem-eshop.com/ppe for Chemstore’s full range of correct and proper PPE equipment and a range of training courses for management and employees.

Chemical safety is our expert industry and what we do best. If you have any questions about chemical safety, chemical storage or chemical protection training, please call us today on  0800 028 2531 . Alternatively email us at  sales@chemstore.co.uk.

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