Things To Include in Your HAZMAT Suit Ensemble

Things To Include in Your HAZMAT Suit Ensemble

Posted by William Kimmell on 4th Jan 2023

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a key part of many jobs. The role of PPE is to protect the wearer from dangers in their work environment. PPE ranges from simple items, like a pair of goggles, to full-body HAZMAT suits. The level of PPE needed depends on the dangers of the job.

To qualify as a HAZMAT suit, an outfit needs to cover an individual’s entire body. However, that’s where the similarities between the different levels end. Keep reading to learn which things you need to include in your HAZMAT suit ensemble.

Types of Workplace Hazards

The type of HAZMAT suit you wear for a job depends on the kinds of dangers you can expect to encounter. Below are the most common hazards found on jobsites where a person would wear some level of HAZMAT protection:

Physical Hazards

The lowest level of HAZMAT protection primarily protects the wearer against physical dangers, like dropping a hammer on their toes or getting wood shavings in their eyes. It can also provide minimal protection against splashes.

Chemical Hazards

Chemicals come in the form of liquids and gases. These chemicals may burn or corrode your skin when they come into contact with exposed areas. For liquids, it’s particularly important that people avoid splashing chemicals into their eyes. If your job deals with harmful gases, you may need to wear a respirator to protect your nose and lungs. Gases can be poisonous to breathe and may cause damage to the respiratory system when inhaled.

Nuclear Hazards

Working in a nuclear power plant often means being around radioactive materials. While some suits can protect against radiation by using special fabrics in the suit lining, the biggest danger is touching or breathing in radioactive particles.

Biological Hazards

Some jobs, particularly those in the medical field, require working around biological contaminants. These could be in a lab, a hospital, or on the front lines of an epidemic. Hazards include airborne particles and liquids, like blood and other bodily fluids that can carry disease.

Types of HAZMAT Suits

There are four levels of HAZMAT protection—levels A, B, C, and D—with A being the highest level of protection. Each level is designed to protect against different kinds of dangers. Some suits include a respirator to protect the wearer’s lungs, while others do not. There are also special HAZMAT suits with separate classifications, like the turnout gear worn by firefighters.

HAZMAT Suit Ensembles by Level

Every HAZMAT suit level has different requirements in order to meet HAZMAT certification standards. These standards include specific clothing items and PPE devices.

Level A

A level A HAZMAT suit offers the highest level of protection. It is designed to protect the wearer’s body from physical contact with hazardous materials as well as from airborne particles. These suits require:

  • A gas-proof, chemical-resistant suit
  • A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and airtight face coverage
  • Chemical-resistant, steel-toed boots with shank
  • Inner and outer chemical-resistant gloves
  • An encapsulated two-way radio

This level of protection is often used by individuals working to clean up nuclear waste or chemicals. You may also need to wear this level of protection while working in certain confined spaces, or to protect yourself from an infectious disease.

Level B

The next-highest level of HAZMAT protection is suited for situations where the wearer may encounter hazardous liquids and gases, but not vapors. This means there could be gaseous chemicals that are dangerous to breathe, but they won’t affect the skin. However, the suit still protects your skin against liquid chemical splashes. Level B suits include:

  • A splash-proof chemical suit
  • An SCBA with airtight face coverage
  • Inner and outer chemical-resistant gloves
  • Chemical-resistant, steel-toed boots with shank
  • A two-way radio

Level C

Level C HAZMAT suits are the next step down in protection, but they’re still pretty common. These suits require respirators, like levels A and B, but they no longer need to be full SCBAs. For the most part, these suits are used when there is no danger of gases harming or penetrating the skin, and the jobsite atmosphere has at least 19.5 percent oxygen. Level C suits require:

  • A splash-proof chemical suit or overalls
  • An air-purifying respirator with full face coverage
  • Inner and outer chemical-resistant gloves
  • Chemical-resistant, steel-toed boots with shank

Level D

Level D HAZMAT protection is the lowest on the list because its only requirement is chemical-resistant, steel-toed boots with a shank. It does not protect the wearer from chemical exposure like the other levels do. However, there are many optional items you can add to a level D HAZMAT ensemble to increase your protection in industrial and construction settings, including:

  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Disposable boot covers
  • Hard hat
  • Face shields

Even though firefighters wear a lot of equipment, their turnout gear is ranked level D. This is because firefighters don’t normally expect to encounter dangerous liquid chemicals on the job, only fumes.

Special HAZMAT Suits

Some jobs require suits that don’t fall neatly within the usual categories. These suits include things like components of firefighter turnout gear and the suits that astronauts wear. While firefighters wear SCBAs like with level A HAZMAT suits, their clothes are designed to be fireproof, not gas-proof.

Astronauts, on the other hand, need suits with SCBAs that can keep oxygen from escaping into the void of space. Their suits are also designed to reflect light from radiation, since there isn’t a protective atmosphere in space.

HAZMAT Suit Disposal

If you end up needing to wear a HAZMAT suit, you should know that you can’t use most suits more than once. You also can’t take it off just anywhere, or you risk contaminating yourself and others.

To throw away an old HAZMAT suit, you’ll need to remove it in a decontamination zone. You’ll follow special procedures to ensure you don’t touch the outside of the suit to your skin or undergarments. Then, you’ll need to put the suit in a sealed bag and follow the procedures for disposing of hazardous waste. This usually means incineration, but some situations may call for other methods.

Your Next HAZMAT Suit

Now that you know which things to include in your HAZMAT suit ensemble, you might want to start putting your own suit together. TG Technical Services can help. We provide many of the necessary pieces for level A and level B HAZMAT suits, including gloves, boots, and fully encapsulated chemical suits. Contact TG Technical Services today, and let us help you put together the required gear to keep you safe on the job.

Things To Include in Your HAZMAT Suit Ensemble