A guide to the PPE & protective clothing to help protect those working in or near extreme temperatures.
For those who face extreme temperatures in their working environment, it’s vital to understand how to stay protected and comfortable. Layering PPE & protective clothing correctly, should result in the worker being both safe, and able to fulfil their task and perform on the job at the same time.
Wearing multiple layers, especially heavy ones, will keep workers warm whilst sitting still. But most jobs require workers to move around and often sweat. We recommend avoiding heavy layers that might restrict movement, with a base layer of clothing that moves moisture to the clothing surface.
It can be tempting to wear nylon or polyester as materials for keeping sweat away. But they can be a disaster in an electrical accident. Even when worn underneath arc-flash clothing, synthetic fabrics can melt to the wearer’s skin in an arc-flash incident, causing potentially life-threatening burns.
Overheating can lead to a loss in concentration, which needs to be avoided in dangerous environments. Or even worse, it could lead to heat stress or death. This means for PPE in extremely hot environments, it’s vital you choose breathable garment options that keep workers as cool.
Intense heat requires heavier protection. But this doesn’t mean that workers need to be surrounded by a full-body shield. It’s important to choose PPE and clothing that keeps them safe for single-sided hazards like sparks or radiant heat but helps them stay cooler with coverage only where it's needed.
Welders need to wear heavyweight, closely woven, 100% wool or cotton garments to shield themselves from UV rays, hot metal, sparks, and open flames. But it’s important to look after PPE, because after each wash, flame retardant coatings lose some of their effectiveness.
For welders to protect their wrists and forearms, they need to wear leather gloves with gauntlet-style cuffs or protective sleeves made of a similar material. Dark coloured protective clothing is also needed when welding as it prevents light reflection that can cause damage to eyes.
Leather aprons are a useful form of protection from sparks, as leather is a good electrical insulator. It’s important for welders to not wear jewellery, or any synthetic items of clothing as this type of fabric is an aggressive burner, which easily causes bad skin burns.
PPE is essential for those working in cold storage and other freezing environments, as they run the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, and death. Lower temperatures and exposure increase the rate of these risks occurring. Cold, high winds, and cold water, also contribute to cold stress on the body.
Clothing such as jackets, salopettes and coveralls should be well fitted, although not too tight as this will restrict blood flow. It needs to be well insulated, water resistant and durable. It’s also important clothing suits the work and activity, not just the temperature and environment.
Cold store gloves need thermal liners but also need to be well fitted so users can still perform tasks to a high standard. Boots must be insulated, water resistant and well ventilated. They must also be well fitted, whilst allowing enough room for thick thermal socks.
If you want to know more about how to protect people that work with or near extreme temperatures with PPE, fill out a contact form below or call 01202 718000.