Home Podcasts THMG056 – 29 CFR OSHA PPE Selection, Part I

THMG056 – 29 CFR OSHA PPE Selection, Part I


In this continuing series on hazmat law, we explore why we have PPE and how we should use it.

Complete Show Notes

3:00 PPE Levels and Respiratory Protection

  • Per Title 29 CFR 1910.120, a written PPE program is a requirement – usually part of an employer’s general safety and health program, in addition to any site-specific safety and health program
  • Three important questions to ask before choosing and using PPE:
    • Which level is required, and what kind of type/design of protective equipment is most appropriate?
    • Which barrier fabric will provide the highest amount of protection?
    • Does the selected garment exist in the marketplace?

6:35 Levels of Protection

  • The EPA and OSHA have defined 4 levels of protection – A, B, C, and D
  • Each level can be comprised of multiple parts brought together in some way to provide a specific level of protection
  • NFPA 472 (Standard Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials/WMD Incidents) breaks these 4 levels down a bit more
  • Some of the levels are broken down into specific types that are more suitable for different tasks – it’s important to consider this when responding – helps give you flexibility while still staying within standards

8:15 Breaking Down Levels D and C

  • Level D
    • Gives us little to no protection to chemicals – no mandated components from OSHA, only recommended or optional items and parts
    • Includes structural firefighting ensembles with SCBA, CPC without respiratory protection, and normal work clothing with respiratory protection
    • Neither EPA or OSHA recognizes structural firefighting gear as a chemical protective ensemble
  • Level C
    • Chemical splash-resistant, full-body coverage suit worn with an APR – presence of APR is what makes this Level C
    • Level C also provides limited respiratory, mucous membrane, and skin protection

11:45 Breaking Down Levels B and A

  • Level B
    • Chemical splash-resistant, full-body coverage suit worn with SCBA – uses supplied air breathing apparatus with escape bottles (AKA pony bottles) to protect the airway
    • Provides the maximum mucous membrane and respiratory protection, but limited skin protection
    • Level B is also the minimum level of operation for an “initial entry onto an uncharacterized site for emergency operations
    • Multiple types of Level B are recognized under these standards and guidelines
      • Type 1
        • Designed to cover the worker completely – SCBA is on the inside of the suit
        • Type 1 garments are usually a good choice to start out with because they offer maximum protection and because your SCBA is protected from permeation, degradation, or corrosion
        • These suits are easily donned and doffed and are smooth for easy decon (easier than using bunker gear)
      • Type 2
        • These are hooded style, which means your face is partially exposed – you’ll be wearing SCBA on the outside that’s (hopefully) taped up
        • Type 2 works well for confined spaces because you can remove your SCBA if need be
        • However, it takes a bit longer to put on and take off and can be difficult to decontaminate because the SCBA has lots of nooks and crannies
        • Additionally, Type 2 has lots of crevasses in the seams, zipper, and hood areas that slow down decon
      • Type 3
        • Designed for use with SABA (supplied air breathing apparatus) with an escape cylinder (called a pony cylinder)
        • Pony bottle can be worn inside or outside of the garment, but most people wear it on the outside – this gives you basically unlimited time on air – the only limiting factor is the user’s stamina
        • However, because you can wear this for an extended time, heat stress builds
        • Plus, you can’t move further from 300 feet from the cart as per NIOSH – this acts like a super leash and can knot up if you’re working with a bunch of people or are in a confined space

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