You’ve seen them in movies and TV shows. You may have even seen them in person if you’ve ever been around a place with lots of chemicals. But, what do you actually know about hazmat suits?
Most people know that hazmat suits are a form of personal protective equipment (PPE). That is, people wear these suits to protect themselves from hazardous materials. In fact, hazmat is actually an abbreviated way of saying “hazardous materials.”
Several different workers, ranging from firefighters to lab personnel, wear hazmat suits. However, the types of hazmat suits they wear may vary depending on their workplace safety needs.
How many types of hazmat suits are there, though? What are the differences between them? If you’d like to learn more on this, check out our guide below!
The Four Types of Hazmat Suits
In the US, there are four classifications of hazmat suits. These classifications follow a leveling system, with Level A being the most secure and Level D being the least.
Level A: The Best Hazmat Suit
If you need a top-tier hazmat suit, Level A options are the best choice. These suits provide a total encapsulation from outside vapors. As such, they can provide significant protection from direct and airborne chemical contact.
Normally, people wear these suits along with a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) enclosed in the suit. If there is a threat to workers’ life or health from workplace accidents, regulations require these suits for employee safety.
Level B suits provide less protection than their A-level counterparts. They are not vapor-tight, thereby leaving workers vulnerable to gases and vapors.
However, these suits still provide excellent protection against hazardous material splashes. It includes clothing with chemical-resistant properties, as well as gloves and steel toe boots.
Like Level A suits, workers must wear a SCBA system alongside the suit. This way, they don’t have to breathe in potentially harmful air.
Most firefighting clothing falls under this category. These suits include coveralls or splash suits, providing less protection than Level B models. Rather than requiring a SCBA system, most Level C suits only need a gas mask or respirator.
While a Level C suit can protect wearers from hazardous chemicals, it’s not a suit for chemical emergencies. Similarly, it would not prove adequate in an oxygen-deficient environment.
Finally, Level C equipment also features a hard hat and chemical-resistant boots. If you’ve ever seen a fireman’s hat, you’ve seen Level C equipment.
This title is a little misleading since Level D suits don’t actually qualify as hazmat suits. The reason for this is that they only require specific work clothing and eye protection. As such, this could be a standard work uniform.
Level D suits include coveralls and chemical-resistant, steel-toe shoes. However, they don’t require any respiratory protection.
Do You Need a Hazmat Suit?
If you run a worksite, there’s a chance you need hazmat suits for your workers. If so, determine what level of chemical threat they may face. Once you have an idea of the threat, you can choose the best hazmat suit accordingly.
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