Home Podcasts THMG039 – PPE Selection Secrets, Part I

THMG039 – PPE Selection Secrets, Part I


In this episode, Bob and Mike discuss the different levels of PPE and how we decide which suits we should wear in different situations.

Complete Show Notes

9:30 Various Levels of Suits and Protection

  • Level D
    • This is your station wear or uniform
    • Steel-toed boots
    • Long pants
    • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Level C
    • Lowest level of protection in the field
    • Chemical resistant clothing
    • Offers protection against splashes, mist, and dust
    • Combined with some sort of respiratory protection (like N95, APR, and PAPR)
  • Level B
    • Offers a little bit more protection than Level C
    • Consists of chemical protective clothing and full SCBA
    • Could be a hooded B (where you’re wearing your SCBA on the outside) or an encapsulated B (where you’re wearing your SCBA on the inside)
    • Encapsulated B looks like Level A at first glance
  • Level A
    • Fully encapsulated, vapor tight, and full SCBA
    • Make sure your SCBA works before you get into your Level A and zip it up
    • It’s important to train in these suits so you’re ready for potential issues

19:15 Hazmat Drill Nugget from Hazsim Training Systems

  • Getting ready for entry – getting into your C, B, or A level suit
  • Do you know how long it takes to get in and out of your suit? Practice at the station!

20:50 Uses and Limitations of Each Suit Level

  • Level C
    • Level C is best when you’re just worried about keeping yourself clean
    • Use this when your concern is focused on cleanup, rather than protecting yourself from something that’s toxic
    • If respiratory protection is a concern, consider bumping it up to a Level B
    • Used very frequently during decon – entry happens in Level B, but then we can downgrade to C
    • You can’t use this suit if there’s no oxygen in the air and can’t use an APR or a PAPR since it doesn’t give you any O2
  • Level B
    • Combines the splash protection of C with respiratory protection
    • Designed for low oxygen situations or any time you’re dealing with a chemical above IDLH
    • Essentially the same as the Level A, but with SCBA, we’re bringing in our own air
    • Encapsulated B protects you against larger quantities of liquid
    • Hooded B protects against small splashes
    • Clumsier to work in than Level C suits – they’re also hot and steamy, so don’t expect to be comfortable
    • Figure out a way to wipe down the shield – some suits have screen protectors you can peel off to help you see if the shield gets too steamed up
  • Level A
    • Rarely (if ever) used today, although it was used frequently in the early days of hazmat
    • Wear this when you have a chemical in the air that you know is going to hurt you
    • This is the best suit when you need vapor protection and are putting yourself at a lot of risk
    • Makes it difficult to hear, see, and smell and also takes away some of your dexterity
    • Risk of falling, overheating, and running out of air, so you have to be very careful
    • Running out of air is a very real possibility
    • Increased stress on your body can also be an issue – not easy to work with, even if you’re in very good shape
    • Figure out if the damage done by a Level A is greater or less than the damage done by the chemicals you’re dealing with

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