If you’re someone who works around hazardous materials, you’ve probably worn a HAZMAT suit at one point or another. However, not all HAZMAT suits are identical; in fact, there are four different tiers of protection and each one is useful in different situations. Here’s everything you need to know about the four HAZMAT suit protection levels.
What Is HAZMAT?
HAZMAT suits get their name from an abbreviation of “hazardous materials.” Hazardous materials may refer to a long list of substances, including toxic chemicals, nuclear waste, poisons, explosives, and even infectious diseases. The Department of Transportation is in charge of determining which materials are dangerous enough to merit wearing a HAZMAT suit because they decide how people transport these substances.
This level offers the highest degree of protection against both dangerous liquids and gases. It fully protects the eyes, lungs, and skin. You’re required to don a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) while wearing one.
Jobs requiring this high level of protection include nuclear plant inspectors and some people who research biological substances (think infectious disease research labs). People working in state or federal drug enforcement also use level A suits when dealing with dangerous illegal drug manufacturing sites like methamphetamine labs.
The main difference between levels A and B is that B won’t protect your skin from airborne particles. However, it will still protect against liquid chemicals and you’ll also need a full-face SCBA.
You’re most likely to see level B HAZMAT suits on doctors, nurses, and paramedics dealing with infectious diseases. Firefighters and even soldiers wear them as well. Contractors who work in mold or lead paint remediation will also need this tier of protection.
Level C HAZMAT suits provide the same skin protection as level B, but you no longer have to wear a full SCBA unit, just an air-purifying respirator.
Many of the same kinds of workers wear both level B and level C. The main difference will be whether or not a full SCBA unit is required.
Level D is really just a pair of coveralls, safety boots, and goggles. In fact, it’s what many construction workers wear, since most sites contain no known hazards. However, the benefit to wearing a level D suit is that you have protection against battery leaks, chemical cleaners, and other small-scale dangers.
Choosing the Right Suit
Before you purchase a HAZMAT suit, research the regulations that determine which of the four levels of HAZMAT suit protection you need for the task at hand. Then, head over to TG Technical Services to find everything you need for your chemical resistant suit, including safety boots, respirators, and chemical-resistant gloves. Only a quality HAZMAT suit can keep you safe while you’re on the job.