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The Importance of Protective Clothing

Certain sites present dangers to workers. Sites like laboratories, construction sites, oil & gas fields, factories, and many more are home to a variety of hazards. Luckily, there is disposable protective clothing and equipment that can help mitigate these risks. Protective garments shield workers from chemicals, toxins, bacteria, and even flames. Using protective clothing and equipment is necessary for those working under dangerous conditions like the following:

Chemicals and Toxins

Protective clothing and equipment helps those who work around harmful chemicals or toxins. Different substances require different sorts of protection. Airborne hazards may require workers to wear protective eye gear or respirators. Chemicals that may burn or harm the skin may require workers to wear coveralls, gloves, or jackets.

Fire

Worksites where fire is an eminent danger require fire-resistant clothing or “FR Clothing”. There are all types of articles of clothing that can be fire-resistant such as pants, shirts, jackets, and coveralls. FR clothing protects against flames while remaining not-too-bulky or heavy and still being breathable.

Bacteria

Certain worksites cause people to be in the presence of or handle deadly bacteria or viruses. These sited require some of the highest levels of protection available to ensure that workers do not come into direct contact with the bacteria or virus. Clothing needs to be tear-proof and encompass the whole body. Sites like this are where hazmat suits are often worn. Doctors are also in need of protective clothing so that they do not come into contact with bacteria or viruses.

Heavy Machinery

Some jobs like garages and construction sites require a different type of protection. Hard hats and steel-toe boots are often necessary on these sites because physical hazards are prevalent. On construction sites, it’s often mandated that workers wear brightly colored or reflective vests to indicate their position to other workers.

How Do Hazmat Suits Work?

Hazmat suits (short for hazardous materials) are suits that are meant to keep the wearer from contacting harmful substances with which they are working. Hazmat suits are full-body suits which should be accompanied by other protective clothing such as goggles, gloves, boots, and breathing masks. There are different classifications of hazmat suits—each with a different level of protection. The levels vary from A to D and each provide protection from different substances.

Level A

Level A hazmat suits are the most protective suits on the market. They offer the highest level of protection for respiration, skin, and the eyes. They keep out gases, vapors, and tiny airborne particles. These suits are extremely complex as they are pressurized and have full face-piece self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA). The suit itself must be completely chemical-protective and must be totally encapsulating. It must entail inner and outer chemical-resistant gloves, and steel-toe boots which are also chemical-resistant. Coveralls, long underwear, and a hard hat underneath the suit are optional depending on the application.

Level B

Level B hazmat suits are slightly less protective. They must have the highest level of protect for respiration, however the level of protection for the skin is not as high. The same SCBA and pressurization must be present, along with many of the same components including chemical resistant gloves, boots, and full-body suit.

Level C

Level C hazmat suits are one step down from this. They are resistant to airborne substances in cases where the concentrations and types of these substances is known and deemed less of a threat than scenarios which would require Level A or B protection. Level C hazmat suits require masks with air-purifying respirators, and much of the same clothing elements as Levels A and B. Coveralls, hard hats, boots, and face shields are optional if the situation calls for them. More equipment is usually a safer bet than less.

Level D

Level D suits are minimal protection suits. These are considered for “nuisance” contamination, and do not require the same sort of respiration equipment or chemical protection as the other levels. Generally, these suits have much of the same parts but with lower quality material.

Removal

Having the right type of hazmat suit for the job is crucially important to worker safety, but so is disrobing the suit. Safe removal of hazmat suits is incredibly important because it is during the removal that workers are at the highest risk of coming into contact with the substance with which they have been working. All protective gear should be removed by rolling it down from head to toe without your skin touching the outer parts of the clothing. This should be done in isolation and be fully removed before exiting the isolation area.

Courtesy of OSHA

Zika Virus Spreads to Texas

Infected Patient in Dallas, Texas

Reports are describing a patient in Texas who contracted the Zika virus through sexual contact. Texas has seen seven other Zika cases all related to foreign travel. This virus is usually transmitted through a bite from a mosquito. These mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. However, the virus can also be spread from mother to child around the time of pregnancy and birth, in addition to blood transfusions and sexual contact.

There have been no locally transmitted Zika cases reported in the continental United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers. With the recent outbreaks, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase and could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States. The Zika virus is currently being transmitted through the Central and South America and the Caribbean – as a result travel advisories have been implemented.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache

The illness is usually short-lived and mild with infected patients very rarely needing hospitalization. Pregnant women face the most significant threat posed by this virus due to its link with the development of the serious complication of microcephaly in infants.

Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives the following guidelines for protection against the mosquitos that often cause the transmission of the Zika virus:

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Travelers are at increased risk for becoming exposed to the Zika virus. There is no treatment or vaccine for the virus. Once the symptoms occur and the diagnosis is confirmed, patients are instructed to get plenty of rest, drink fluids, remain hydrated and take acetaminophen for fever and pain relief. Even though the illness may be mild there remains a serious risk associated with the transmission of the virus from mother to baby resulting in smaller than normal head size in the baby – a condition known as microcephaly. It is therefore important to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites to stop the spread of the disease.

Microcephaly

In Brazil there have been 76 infant deaths from microcephaly in pregnancy or just after death that may have been caused by the exposure to the Zika virus. The smaller than normal head size of microcephaly is due to brain underdevelopment in pregnancy or failure of brain growth after birth. Other infections, such as Rubella, Toxoplasmosis and Cytomegalovirus, severe malnutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals are also linked with the development of microcephaly. There is no known cure or standard therapy for microcephaly. Depending on the severity of the disease the infant may experience a variety of symptoms over his or her lifetime including:

  • Seizures
  • Developmental delay, such as problems with speech, sitting, standing, and walking
  • Intellectual disability (decreased ability to learn and function in daily life)
  • Problems with movement and balance
  • Feeding problems, such as difficulty swallowing
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision problems

Therefore the CDC is recommending that pregnant women avoid all travel to more than 24 countries mainly in the Caribbean and South America where the transmission of the Zika virus has been most active.

 

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