Technical treatment of different textile materials is laid down blizzard to the world. In this globalization of science and technology, new technologies like fine chemicals, optical fibers, high polymer plastics, resins, temperature-resistant textile fibers, fiber-reinforced composites etc have proved improved alternative in the form of technical textiles and has updated the blueprint of production; consumption and trade in a considerable way.
Besides traditional textile practicing, technical textiles are used by various industries like advertising banner, automobile, agriculture, aviation, civil engineering, chemical, leather, horticulture, medical, mining, petroleum, packaging, pharmaceutical, electrical, environment protection, food processing, furniture, printing, rubber, transportation, protective and safety clothing etc.
It covers safeguard against cuts, nuclear, biological and chemical hazards, high voltages and static electricity and other types of harsh effects covering stab wounds, explosions, abrasion, ballistic, fire and extreme heat, dust and particles. Hence, there is a requirement to safeguard the sensitive machinery and equipment by means of cleaning the rooms or stores and provided it with covering and also to protect the employees by providing personal protective equipment according to the workplace.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
According to European Council Directive 89/856/EEC protective clothing is that: by an individual any tool or method intended to be put on or held for protection against one or more health and safety hazards in the execution of the user's activities is called Protective Personal Equipment and in short form it is called as PPE. To trim down the possible hazards significantly for the individual worker, PPE is the ultimate protective application after the whole planning, training and procedural efforts.
There are three types of personal protective equipment according to hazard/ risks involved:
. Low risks Personal Protective Equipment: This falls under category-I: Low risks or general personal protective equipment like simple gloves, head gear, footwear, sun glasses, traditional work wear etc.
. Medium risks Personal Protective Equipment: This falls under category-II type: Medium risks.
. High Risks Personal Protective Equipment: This falls under category-III: Like respiratory/lung related equipment for fire fighter, protective gloves against very high temperatures etc for very risky operation of works.
PPE Program for safety purposes
At the place of work frequent causes of main hazards are in the form of:
. Mechanical harm
. Soaring elements/ fine particles generated during the process
. Heat, concentrated light, sound and dust
. Radiation, germs, chemical wastes, gaseous pollution
. Unpleasant weather / Unconditional workplace
While considering or implementing PPE program and to come across these risks one has to review and analyze the type of involved risks and take required steps accordingly. Though many changes take place at the work place frequent review is a must.
In any organization hazardous / risks are drop off in the following ways:
. Abolishment - Fist and fore most is to eliminate hazards or hazardous work practice at the place of work itself is an important step, which can bring down the risk.
. Replacement - Substitute a risky or hazardous work practice with a less hazardous place one.
. Segregation - People who are not educated/ informed in the work place, short out the hazardous practice / areas as Danger Zone.
. Engineering - It covers some alteration in the apparatus or providing protector to machinery.
. Awareness/ Training Program - This covers training to increase the awareness to reduce the risks at the work places.
. Personal protective Equipment - It should be applied only when other control measures are not possible, or to increase protection, this is the last but not least acceptable alternative.
The application of PPE is inevitable in some methods or practices. Protecting eye with goggles, face with shielded covers, legs with whole / special shoes or boots and head with hard hats are these types of equipment where the workers must have to wear all the times due to the sudden exposures. But there is no any alternative instead of wearing personal protective equipment.
Extensively treated as Personal Protective Equipment
From a plain apron to particular application outfits, there are so many availability of protective clothing. To protect in following particular surroundings protective clothing garments of particular fabricated PPE are manufactured.
. Fire / Flames
. Polluted weather
. Nuclear infectivity
. Mechanical harm
. Electrical (Static Electricity) / Electronics Industry
. Freezing or low temperature
. Emission of radiation / Radio active emission
. Chemical/Gas / Fine particles generated during the process in food or pharmaceutical industry
While manufacturing of gritty goods, like in food industry, electronics industries wearing protecting clothing required for lint free or anti-static environment, and high-visibility clean room as well as clean clothing environment required. An operative barrier found between the hazards and the wearer by wearing protective clothing but ranging from moderately basic coated fabrics up to complex and higher functioning materials are used in a wide range to protect from the risks involved and it is provided according to the need or application of the work place or operation of work.
Following fiber materials are used for personal protective equipment or apparels
Flame retardant (FR) finish for heat protection
To protect from fire and heat, unique flame retardant finishing used on the fabric. The use of some specialty chemicals can affect fabric appearance. To provide cheaper option in less serious use, new developed polyester and acrylate fibers or special fire retardant fibers, such as the aramids are widely used. Apparel is manufactured with many several layers of different fabrics with the process of woven, knitted and non-woven. A precise purposed fabric layer made, such as for fire resistance, vapor barrier or thermal insulation etc. In the glass processing industry, fire fighting, welding and foundry work or application, heat resistant clothing is applicable. To counter splashes of molten metal special surface or finishing are necessary. Cotton is also used during electrical arc-flash protection.
Breathable fabric laminates for very cold temperature
A coating of dead air between the body and outside is made so that body temperature is not dissipated by conduction or not affect in any way in very cold temperature work environment. Breathable fabric laminates of various materials are applied widely in personal protective equipment, while working in a cold temperature to protect from cold.
Unique lamination protection against bacteria / virus
There are two main methods while using materials in PPE manufacturing. Through a unique finish, adds in a bactericide into the textile straight away, under definite conditions the active ingredient will often discharge gradually. The second method is through coating or laminating craft a barrier fabric.
Bulletproof vests used in ballistic protection
Bulletproof vests applied by defense and police in ballistics protection high tech fibers are used. According to the requirement, a large number of possible answers in this type of manufacturing, though this segment is very alike to the fire protection personal equipment and their needs.
Lead coated material for radiation protection
According to the classification and emission of radiation or hazards, the textile fiber for personal protective equipment should be made according to the actual requirement is a little bit complex. Lead coated material is used to protect X-ray radiation, a polyethylene and condensed boron fiber and layers of different fabrics are used in making personal protective equipment / apparel to protect different radiation.
Electro-static Discharge (ESD) protective garments for Electronics Industry
A research carried out in different parts of the world for the use of ESD clothing in electronics industry, which showed that about 30-50 % of all malfunction in electronic products noticed while producing and can be recognized to some kind of electrical overstress, of which ESD is one type. Though old standard test methods for the assessment of the functioning of modern ESDprotective clothing applied in electronics industry do not measure properly and effectively. Therefore a new European research project - ESTAT-Garments - was launched in early 2002. The main focus of this three-years project (2002-2005) is to supply the standards body IEC TC101 with a basis to qualify the helpfulness of clothing applied for the ESD-safe handling of electrostatic discharge sensitive (ESDS) devices and to build up appropriate test methods for the characterization of such ESD protective garments.
Polyethylene non-woven or different coatings used to protect chemical or gas hazards
Chemical and gas defensive outfits are widely available and accepted in chemical & gas industry. Cotton or synthetics apparels or PPE are preferred in lower risk chemicals hazards, while additional hard-hitting chemicals may need coating and lamination in the protective clothing, which creates a barrier to chemical and gas penetration. Against low-level protection Plyethylene non-woven fabric in raw form is widely used in PPE, it is available with coated form with polyethylene against high-level protection application. Also more advanced fabric material is used according to the requirement of work place and procedure for higher degrees of protection.
Spun bonded polyethylene fabric made PPE for pesticide applications
Pesticides can go in to the body by four ways, by mouth, skin, eyes, and lungs. Skin contact is the most general cause and certain pesticides go in to the body through the skin somewhat promptly. To protect hazardous from pesticides personal protective equipment like long-sleeved shirt and long pants, shoes and socks, chemical-resistant category-A gloves, unlined, elbow-length chemical-resistant gloves etc are widely used. Woven fabrics offer a barrier of fabric and air between the wearer and the pesticide. Tightly woven, cotton twill provides superior pesticide protection than other woven fabrics. Cotton coveralls are a general choice because their affordability, easily available and due to their lightweight property. Use of pesticides in dust, granule, or powder form, uncoated non-woven fabrics is convenient. Tyvek, a 100% spun bonded polyethylene fabric made by DuPont, is a type of an uncoated non-woven fabric.
Specialty fibers para-amides and high modulus polyethylene used to protect from cut / slash
Industry likes the food (slaughter houses), forestry or concrete production where the worker works with unsafe equipment (Jaw or saws); in this case, heavy clumsy layers of fibers are used to make PPE. Specialty fibers like para-aramides and high modulus polyethylene is widely used to make personal protective equipment or apparels. However cotton is still the incomparable option of fabric for work. i.e., long sleeves cotton shirts and t-shirts, cotton trousers are also widely used.
Other Protective Clothing
Like high visibility clothing, life saving jackets, etc is manufactured from PVC infiltrated with fluorescent pigments and with various materials according to the needs. Retro-reflective materials are perfect for high visibility clothing. A range of reflective materials is used in making bands and integrated clothing. The general and wider requirement is for roadwork and police, and protection against dust, electrostatic charges etc and is widely used as personal protection equipment.
The end user of personal protection equipment is protector or consumer itself, hence according to the need of PPE and by consideration of application of PPE in different environment; first and foremost, consumer must be trained or guided by covering the thorough information about what is personal protection equipment? In many countries there seems to be a legislative strict restrictions or regulations on employers or workers to protect themselves from hazardous workplace or environment and wearing personal protection equipment necessarily. It is safe to create awareness among the employees or workers of wearing personal protective equipment in hazardous areas or workplace, and providing appropriate personal protection equipment, saves or protects your business too.