Selecting the proper personal protection equipment (PPE) to fit the job should be top priority before making a decision, said Dan Bowen of DuPont at the National Tank Truck Carriers Tank Cleaning and Environmental Council Seminar in Savannah GA March 30-31.
"PPE is not a suit or armor," Bowen said. "It's the last line of defense, not the first."
He pointed out that tank wash workplace practices should be in place to minimize all hazards. But when selecting PPE, managers should consider the categories of fabrics that provide protection for various situations.
For example, high-density polyethylene Tyvek made by DuPont is designed for a broad range of applications and is best best used for protection against small hazardous particles. It is water resistant, but not water proof. Oil will penetrate the fabric and it is not designed for use with hazardous liquids.
Some materials are thicker and some are more comfortable to wear than others. "If dealing with a hazmat material, the worker is going to be a little uncomfortable in order to be properly protected," he said.
He suggested making an effort to understand what chemicals are involved in the workplace, including how often a worker will be exposed and at what chemical concentration, how dangerous is the chemical, and how will temperatures influence chemical changes.
Bowen noted that DuPont has software available that can be used for determining what fabrics for PPE are needed for exposure to various chemicals.