Personal protective clothing can be defined as any item of clothing which is used by employees and others to reduce their exposure to hazards in the work place.
Protective clothing and equipment is available for almost every part of the body and the type of equipment used will depend on the protection that is required. Some common areas which require protection and examples of how that area may be protected include: body protection using lab coats, coveralls, waterproof jackets and pants, heat proof aprons and hi visibility garments; foot protection using steel capped safety boots, waterproof boots and non slip shoes; and hand protection using cotton, leather, PVC or nitrile gloves.
Sometimes it is easy to forget about using the appropriate protective clothing but the simple fact is, that it helps protect from accidents. There are several important points to remember regarding protective clothing:
- Ensure that all protective clothing meets the appropriate standards
- Ensure that each item of protective clothing is appropriate for each particular workplace hazard
- Ensure the clothing fits the individual worker
- Provide/obtain training in the appropriate use of protective clothing
- Provide/obtain additional training for supervisors to ensure they understand their role in enforcing wearing and use of protective clothing
- Ensure all protective clothing is cleaned and adequately maintained
Hi Visibility Clothing
There is a wide range of Hi Vis garments available for workers who require visibility within their workplace. These range from hi vis vests to hi vis work shirts, pants and jackets. The selection and use of High Visibility Garments is governed by the High Visibility Safety Garments standard (AS/NZS 4602:1999) which details the requirements of personal safety garments to increase the ability for the wearer to be seen. Material used in the design and manufacture of high visibility safety garments must be fluorescent and retroflective. Below is a simple guide to the standard:
Class of Garment
§ For outdoor day use only
§ Uses fluorescent materials
§ High visibility materials must encircle the upper torso - min visible area of 0.4m2
§ For night use when viewed under retroflective conditions eg: vehicle headlight illumination
§ Must have 50mm strips of retroflective material complying to class R AS/NZS 1906.4 in specific tape configurations
§ For use in day or night, dawn, dusk or in poor weather conditions where there is illumination from headlights
§ Must use retroflective strips and fluorescent material
Protective Disposable Clothing
The value of protective disposable clothing is often dismissed in the argument ?why spend money on items that are going to be thrown away when I can wash what I already wear?. What they fail to recognise is that disposable clothing is designed for those situations where all over body protection is required and the risk of contamination to normal clothing may exist.
Hair, sweat, dust, bacteria, viruses and clothing threads may be some of the contaminants you do not want brought into your work place and may contaminate your work environment/manufacturing products. Chemicals, aerosols, dusts and water are some of the contaminants you may wish to prevent coming into contact with your physical body. You can more easily control the disposal and re-issue of fresh garments and not worry about collection, washing and cleanliness of reusable items.
Disposable protective clothing is generally made from a polypropylene material which is lightweight, durable, soft and economical.