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THMG188 – More PPE Selection Secrets


In this episode, Bob and Mike share some helpful PPE selection secrets that came to light after they participated in a recent drill.

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Complete Show Notes

3:00 Intro to PPE Selection

  • Experience is really your best tool when it comes to choosing your PPE
  • Can be very overwhelming when you’re new to hazmat
  • Fire and police departments only have one set of PPE, while we have at least four
  • You don’t need to know every single thing about the construction of your PPE, but you do need a basic overview of what your suit does
  • The person who buys the suits need to know this information, though

7:00 Choosing the Right Level of PPE

  • In the hazmat world, it comes down to product, container, environment, and intent
  • The product is the chemical, the container is what’s holding the chemical, and the environment is where the chemical is located
  • In most cases, there’s no intent and the situations we’re responding to are accidental or unintentional – this started to change after 9/11, though

12:30 Hypothetical Overturned Tanker Run

  • When we get off the rig, we’ll be in bunker gear and SCBA – Level A is overkill at this point
  • If it’s chlorine, we’re not going to change into Level A until we’ve metered with our single gas
  • If it’s ammonia, we’ll get off the rig in our typical bunker gear and meter with our pH paper
  • We’re always concerned with PEL and IDLH when it comes to PPE selection
  • When our meters read PEL, we need to put on our SCBA
  • Equipment we’re using becomes more complicated as our levels go up, which means fewer people are qualified to use it

27:30 Handling an Ammonia Run

  • Our meters are telling us at the door that we can’t enter in bunker gear and SCBA
  • Corrosives are hard to handle – mainly a problem when it comes to our skin
  • Regardless of the situation, we want to change the atmosphere or stop the leak
  • We always want to get the concentration down to where we can wear bunker gear

34:00 How Can We Reduce PEL and IDLH?

  • We’re not necessarily going to ventilate – it’s more about changing the atmosphere, which doesn’t always involve fans
  • If we do ventilate, we’re basically just introducing fresh air into the environment
  • We also want to stop the production of vapors if at all possible – shutting off the leak changes the atmosphere we’re working in

38:15 Determining Intent

  • If the 406 leak above was caused by more nefarious actions, does it change our PPE selection?
  • We’re seeing vapor, which means we’re dealing with a liquid leak, we’re going to ventilate – still in bunker gear at this point
  • If the leak isn’t resolving at this point, we’re going to change into our Level A because it may be transdermal

46:30 The Hazmat Huddle

  • Senior technicians are able to communicate with each other with simple hand signals
  • It’s important to remember that newer technicians aren’t at this level yet
  • Take everyone’s thoughts and opinions into account since there’s something you might not have considered
  • In many cases, new technicians don’t know enough to have any preconceived notions that could limit them
  • Chiefs always have an opinion, but they’re not working downrange – take what they have to say with a grain of salt
  • If we bring laws into the equation, the chief is much more likely to listen to us
  • Technician wearing the PPE always makes the final decision since they’ll suffer the consequences of a wrong decision
  • Ultimately, confidence is incredibly important when dealing with your chief – come to them with a plan and don’t be wishy washy

Have a question? Send an email to feedback@thehazmatguys.com or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

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