Specialist Protective clothing

Fire Proximity Suits

Fire Proximity Suit

Designed to help firefighters deal with the dangers that are inherent in their line of work, a fire proximity suit is made in such a way that it protects the people that wear it from very high temperatures, something that is often the case with firefighters, especially during aircraft fires.

This type of suit, designed to help firefighters during fires, was manufactured initially in the 1930’s, and the first material used for it was asbestos, so the term for it was asbestos suit. These days, the materials used for PPE of firemen are aluminized and vacuum-deposited. These materials will reflect the loads of high radiants which are produced by fires.

Overall, one can find three main types of suits that are aluminized:

The approach suit

The approach suit is used in areas where the temperatures are high, like in smelting facilities or steel mills. In these cases, the protection of the approach suit will stand up to temperatures of 93 Celsius (200 Fahrenheit)

The proximity suit

Proximity suits are designed to be used in fire fighting and aircraft rescue, plus in some cases, when they are much more insulated, for work in heated kilns. The kiln suit will stand to a temperature of 1093 Celsius (2000 Fahrenheit), while the proximity suit will protect against temperatures of up to 260 Celsius (500 Fahrenheit).

The entry suit

The last type of suit is the entry suit, which is used for situations where the heat is extreme and for places where flame engulfment is expected. These are usually made out of Fyrepel and they are not aluminized. They will resist to temperatures of 816 Celsius (1500 Fahrenheit) for short periods of time, or to 1093 Celsius (2000 Fahrenheit) for longer periods of time.

The total protection for these situations will include hoot or helmet with a neck shroud, lined gloves, pants and jacket, boots and a breathing apparatus.

Hazmat Suits

Hazmat suits are personal protective equipment that are designed to protect against hazardous substances and materials. This type of suit usually comes with its own breathing apparatus, so it has maximum protection for the person inside. Some of the people that will use the hazmat suit include researchers, people responding to a toxic spill, firefighters, people going into contaminated facilities or any other type of worker that has to enter a toxic environment. Though people tend to confuse it with a NBC suit, the hazmat suit is actually the civilian version, which is not made for combat.

According to Homeland Security, a Hazmat suit is actually a garment which people wear in order to protect themselves against hazardous substances or materials, which includes biological agents, chemicals and radioactive materials. Usually, a Hazmat suit will protect users from:

Chemical agents – this is done with the help of materials which act as a barrier, like heavy PVC, Teflon, Tyvek or rubber.

Nuclear agents – protects against them with the help of radiation shielding and by preventing people from inhaling or entering into contact with radioactive gas or particles.

Biological agents – it does this by using systems that are completely sealed, in some cases with overpressure, so even in case of damage there is no contamination.

High temperatures and fires – it protects with the help of reflective materials and insulation.

Usually, a Hazmat suit will come with its own air supply, which gives the user air that is not contaminated. During use in laboratories, it is possible to use external sources of air, from air hoses. The pumping of the air is done while respecting the surroundings and its pressure, so there is an additional measure of protection if the suit is breached.

This type of personal protective equipment can be quite strenuous when used, since they lack flexibility usually and it interferes with normal operations.

Chemical Protection

Due to the nature of their jobs, people that work in chemical plants are required in many cases to use personal protective equipment to insure that they are well protected against any accidents or the action of chemical agents.

The definition given to PPE by OSHA is that they are devices which are built in order to help protect the employees from illnesses and injuries related to the workplace, cause by contact with mechanical, radiological, chemical, electrical and physical hazards. As far as methods of controlling hazards go, using PPE is the last control method.

When you decide to go with a certain type of PPE, you should first look at the hazards which are possible when doing a certain type of job, see what the risks are and finally, look for the best method of control, by looking at the hierarchy of control of hazards. Usually personal protective equipment will be offered to workers even when there are multiple controls in place to protect against hazards.

Personal Protective Equipment Types

You can check out below the different types of PPE that you might see in a chemical plant, classified by the organ that they’re protecting.

Head protection

This type of PPE will try to prevent damage from any falling objects, bumping heads against beams or pipes, entanglement of hair and the possibility of touching components or electrical wiring. These are either bump caps or hard hats.

Eye protection

These will try to prevent any metal or chemical splash, flying particles, dust, vapors, radiation or corrosive gases from damaging the eyes. Here we are talking about safety glasses, goggles or glasses for laser welding.

Face protection

This type of PPE will protect against hazardous chemicals, dust, flying sparks and slug chips. You can use either a welding shield or a face shield for this purpose.

Hearing protection

To protect the ears against noise, one will use either canal caps, ear muffs or ear plugs.

Arms and hands protections

These include gauntlets, hand gloves, mitts and armlets, among others.

Leg protection

For the protection of the leg, one will use safety boots, shoes, leggings and gaiters.

Respiratory protection

For the protection of the respiratory tract, there are certain types of respirators which are used.

Chainsaw Clothing

The safety regulations recommend any users of chainsaws that they protect themselves with specialized clothing, designed to minimize the risk of accidents. While most organizations agree on what type of clothing is suitable for chainsaw use, there are certain recommendations and rules which are specific to certain areas.


The role of a helmet is to protect the chainsaw user’s head from any impacts with the chainsaw’s cutter bar, in the event of a kickback. The only way this can be achieved is if the brake of the chain has been operated, so the cutter chain is stopped. If the chain runs at maximum speed then a helmet will be easily cut. A helmet will also provide protection against any small objects that might fall from trees, like dead branches. A popular combination for chainsaw users is a helmet which has both a visor and defenders for the ears.

Helmets used in the European Union need to meet the EN397 requirements.

Goggles or visors

The goggle or visor will greatly reduced the risk of eye penetration from chips. Even though the mesh visor might not look like much, a chainsaw produces only chips and no sawdust, so the protection of the visor is sufficient. Some users of chainsaws prefer to use either goggles or safety glasses. If you’re located in the European Union, the glasses should meet the requirements of EN166 and the visor the requirements from EN1731.

Ear defenders

The use of ear plugs or ear defenders helps with the noise attenuation, so that the noise doesn’t damage the hearing of the user. The requirements of the EU standards are regulated in EN352-1.


Clothing designed for chainsaw protection will generally use special fabrics, though the industry hasn’t yet reached a satisfactory point. Regular fabric doesn’t offer any protection against a chainsaw and specialized fabrics haven’t reached a point where they can offer good protection while keeping a good mobility.

Other types of protection equipment for chainsaw users include gloves and boots, which are improved to offer protection for this type of use.

Blunt Trauma Suit

The personal protective equipment designed to deal with blunt trauma aims to defend the people that wear it against certain types of injuries, which are a result of blunt impacts. This type of blunt trauma PPE is often used by people working in law enforcement, army, correction facilities and other types of emergency response units, for which the chance of blunt impact is significantly higher and it can mean the difference between life and death. The amount of blunt trauma that the PPE can stand is quantified with the help of certain standards created by the government. The best PPE will offer a good balance between good mobility and goof flexibility, as well as superior protection. Thanks to the nature of this type of equipment, in many cases a good air ventilation can make the difference and prevent the user from hyperthermia or heat stroke.

Standards for impact attenuation

In order to make sure that the PPE equipment they create works well to protect against blunt trauma, the industry uses certain criteria and standardized tests to insure the equipment has certain standards. These standards refer to the amount of protection the owner gets for the legs, arms and torso.

The criteria and test methods which are used are designed with the help of professionals and of a committee which has law enforcement representatives, correction officers, lab specialists, industry participants and other individuals from organizations that work with blunt trauma PPE. These groups will investigate and find out exactly what blunt trauma threats are likely and then they will determine the amount of protection that is needed in order to prevent it.

Mobility and flexibility

In general, blunt trauma personal protective equipment needs to provide a balance between the function and the protection. Since the wearer needs some mobility, some of the protection needs to be sacrificed to allow for it.

Personal Armour

The type of personal protective equipment which is used for protection against penetrating attacks, bludgeoning or slashing is also known as personal armor. Usually this type of protection was provided mostly for military personel, but these days it can be found in the police forces of the world, in the use of bodyguards, security guards and any citizen that wants to buy one.Personal Armor

There are two main types of combat armor. The first one is the personal armor that isn’t plated, the less sophisticated type. The second one is the armor used by soldiers, police and SWAT teams, which is personal armor that is reinforced with hard plates.

A soft armor can use ceramic or metal plates for extra protection against any rifle rounds that might hit it. It can also use fiber layers or metallic components to give it some resistance from slash or stabbing attacks with knives.

The best known component for bullet resistant face masks and vests is Kevlar. Since the 1980’s, the vests and helmets used by the army of the United States contain Kevlar, and the ones that will replace them also have Kevlar inside.

Bulletproof facemasks, which are usually designed for sentries, also use Kevlar. Some of the applications for civilian use include clothing that is reinforced for bike riders, so it protects them against any injuries through abrasion.

When Kevlar is used in the form that isn’t woven and with long strands, it usually protects operators of chainsaws. When the chain accidentally tears through the cover from the outside, the Kevlar fibers will clog, tangle and finally stop the chainsaw from any further movement, since it gets in the saw’s drive mechanism and restricts its movement.

One other use for Kevlar for PPE equipment is in the protection gear of emergency services, as it can help protect against high temperatures. Kevlar is also often used in vests for security personnel or police officers.