Not all jobs are created equal. Some involve a higher degree of risk than others. In some settings, regular clothes are not enough. To ensure maximum safety and protection, workplaces purchase and provide coveralls and related clothing from reputed suppliers of PPE clothing. Workers can don coveralls over or instead of their regular clothes if they work in chemistry laboratories, are exposed to intense heat or electromagnetic radiation, handle biological substances, perform demanding mechanical work, or deal with electrical equipment. These settings and situations can cause loss of health, limbs, and—in extreme cases—life. In addition to their primary function of protecting the body, they also minimise the damage (i.e. stains, tears, odours) caused to normal clothing.
Consider the following factors when choosing coveralls for your team.
#1 Penetration Protection
Exposure to asbestos fibres and silica dust can cause lung cancer if workers do not take precautions. Good coveralls shield you from particles as small as 6 micrometres. They also prevent the penetration of dangerous liquids and sprays. Concerning penetration, look out for the following ISO standards:
- 1: Spray Tight Protective Coveralls
- 2: Particle Tight Protective Coveralls
- 3: Limited Spray Tight Protective Coveralls
There are two usage types you should be aware of:
- Single-Use or Disposable: A worker uses the coveralls only once and discards them according to the instructions and the organisation’s protocols. Single-use is best for workers exposed to pathogens, acids, or nuclear radiation. It diminishes the risk of infection.
- Multi-Use or Reusable: A worker uses the coveralls more than once. The products may have a recommended usage limit, or the organisation may advise on the number of permissible uses.
Usability depends on the product and the setting, so read the specifications and consider the nature of the work the protective clothing is intended for.
#3 Ease of Movement
With breathable clothing, climbing ladders, navigating crawlspaces, and running are much easier. Note the number and placement of zippers; some coveralls have them at the neck and others at the waist. The sleeves should have a bat-wing style to allow comfortable movement of the upper limbs. The crotch area should be tailored so that squatting and climbing are not painful, uncomfortable, embarrassing, or frustrating. Ask the PPE clothing suppliers about thumb loops because they keep the sleeves in place, avoiding exposure to the arms. A tripartite hood will enable head movement and prevent the wearer from feeling stiff.
#4 Anti-Static Properties
Coveralls that protect you from static electricity and charge decay have an icon (on the website or packaging) of a lightning bolt sitting on a thick horizontal line. The alphanumeric codes for this standard are EN 1149-5 and IEC-61340-1-5. Ensure the coveralls possess this property in settings where sparks and charges trigger electrical explosions or fires. Anti-static coveralls have a carbon fibre lining that blocks and scales down the effects of electrical charges. They are not made from natural materials and are not prone to degradation.
#5 Colour and Size
While colour cannot protect or save someone’s life, it certainly helps with identification, especially in situations where personnel from different squads are liable to get mixed up. For example, crime scene analysts and bomb detonation specialists. Those who work the graveyard shift are better off choosing colours like white, neon yellow, and orange for higher visibility.
As for size, remember that coveralls are meant to facilitate movement, not impair it. If protective clothing is a couple of sizes too small or too large, it becomes a liability rather than an asset. Get everyone’s measurements—don’t take their word for it—and double-check the order specifications before paying. Some suppliers stock coveralls from S to 4XL.