How to wear PPE or Personal Protective Equipment

The safety performance of PPEs or protective clothing varies depending on the material and its appropriate use. This article introduces the structure and features of each material and how to wear them properly to enhance safety in workplaces.

Difference between work clothing and protective clothing

Work clothes are garments that prevent dirt from adhering to the workplace. Since they are mainly used at construction sites and factories, they do not provide protection against dangerous chemicals. There are examples where they are used as uniforms at work sites.

PPE or protective clothing, on the other hand, are used to protect workers from hazards. They are worn to prevent viruses, chemicals, and radioactive materials from adhering to the body or entering the body. However, in many cases, work clothes are still used even at sites where protective clothing is required. PPEs are generally worn when working in hazardous areas.

How to properly wear PPE

Clothing worn inside the PPE  should be as light as possible and suitable for disposal after work is completed. First, visually check the clothing for damage. Put on the PPE  from the feet up, put your hands through the zippers and lift the zippers up to the neck. Do not raise the zipper to the top. If there is double-sided tape on the zipper cover, peel it off and stick it to seal the zipper.

Next, put on the boots. Put the boot covers on over the PPE and tighten the laces securely. The boot covers should be placed under the protective clothing. Seal the gap between the protective clothing and boot covers with duct tape.

Next, put on a mask, preferably an N95 or DS2-rated mask, and make sure it fits securely on the face. If a dust mask is required at the site, wear respiratory protective equipment and ensure confidentiality is maintained.

Put on the hood of the protective clothing and apply adhesive tape. Or, squeeze the cord of the hood to eliminate as many openings as possible. Wear goggles over it and keep them as close to your forehead as possible.

Put on two layers of gloves and cover the seams with duct tape to keep them close together.

When you have finished putting on all the protective clothing, check each other for any damaged areas and check each other's protective clothing for cuts. If there is any damage, replace it with a new one.

Fabrics and structure of PPEs

PPE is made of different materials and structures, depending on what kind of substance it will protect the body from. Here is a guide to select the appropriate PPE for each work environment.

Non-woven single-layer type

This type is made of spunbond polypropylene. Since it is a single-layer spunbonded structure, there are a great number of voids between fibers. Although the barrier property is lesser, it is inexpensive and can handle light stains, so it is much more economical.

SMS

This type uses SMS polypropylene as the material, and has a three-layer structure of spunbond, meltblown, and spunbond. It features strong friction resistance and a cloth-like texture. Although relatively inexpensive, it is resistant to rubbing and light stains and provides a high barrier effect against dust and splashes.

FS

This protective clothing uses film laminate as its material. A thin film material is attached to the surface of polypropylene or spunbond non-woven fabric. It has high barrier properties against dirt and dust, and has excellent waterproof properties that makes it suitable to work in areas with water.

Tyvek®

Tyvek® is DuPont’s special proprietary material consisting of continuous microfibers of high-density polyethylene (0.5 to 10 microns) bonded together under heat and pressure to provide an excellent barrier to particles less than 1 micron in size. It is lightweight and does not allow fine dust particles to pass through, making it suitable for use in highly viscous oil stains, dust, and moderate-water work environments.

Polymer coating

It is a two-layered PPE made of Tyvek® with a polymer coating.

Polymer coating + film lamination

It has a four-layer structure consisting of Tyvek® with a polymer coating and an additional barrier film. It is permeation resistant to most organic chemicals and highly concentrated inorganic chemicals and can prevent particles from passing through.

PPEs have different functions depending on different materials used, so it is necessary to select the appropriate one for each work environment to enhance work safety.