For every dollar spent on PPE OSHA estimates $4 are saved in costs from work-related health care and productivity losses. A coating, a textile structure, or interweaving of common place threads are all that stand between you and a life altering injury. Do you know exactly what goes into making these superhuman products? When developing products that will protect against hazards such as, a chemical spill, a fire, abrasion, or general workplace injury. There are many different approaches that go into protecting the end user.
Here are some important terms to know to help you better select your safety options in the future. When it comes to the selection of materials the rates below can differ depending on weight, density, weave, elasticity, and even color.
- Permeation rate: the rate at which the chemical will move through the material. For example a more tightly woven material will provide greater protection than a fabric you can see right through. The higher the permeation rate the less protective the material.
- Breakthrough rate: the time it takes a chemical to permeate completely through the material. Breakthrough is measured using a standardized test ASTM F739
- Degradation: measurement of the physical breakdown of a material due to contact with a chemical. The slower the rate the more protective the product is. Signs of degradation include swelling, stiffening, wrinkling, changes in color and other physical deterioration.
- Inherent: materials that have resistance built into their chemical fiber structures. This can never be worn away or washed out. For example aramid fibers are lightweight and extraordinarily strong, with five times the strength of steel on an equal-weight basis.
- Treated: materials that are made resistant by the application of chemical additives. These treatments wear over time and will no longer provide protection. For example polyethylene coatings are applied to materials to increase their ability to repel liquids, as well as dry particulates
It is important to remember that just because a product is certified doesn’t mean it is the best cost effective option. Naturally products with a longer breakthrough rate made up of inherent materials will cost more than treated products.
No industry is completely safe whether you work in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, mining, chemical handling; all of these industries come with their own set of dangers. Keep in mind, there is no single solution to protect against all hazards, make sure the product you are selecting matches the hazard you are protecting against.