Protective equipment

Protective equipment must be used if the risk assessment shows that such is required. Protective equipment that is selected must be specific to the purpose; the safety data sheets and supplier descriptions often indicate which type of protective equipment is required for a certain handling.

The person who needs to use personal protective equipment must be given training in how it is used, how it is stored and cleaned, and how its functioning is checked. Protective equipment that is purchased must be CE-labelled and paid for by the employer. Normal work clothes are not to be regarded as personal protective equipment.

Eye and facial protection

Protection against sprays, radiation, dust, particles, etc. Examples of eye and facial protection: glasses with or without side protection, goggles with a full-coverage frame, or visor/hood, sometimes combined with a helmet or respiratory protective equipment. As regards safety goggles against radiation, it is important to take the type of radiation into consideration so that the protection against permeation by the wavelengths to be minimised is as effective as possible.

Respiratory protective equipment

Protection against pollutants in inhaled air such as particles, dust, gases, bacteria, viruses or different types of gases and chemicals. Respiratory protective equipment must also be used when there is a risk of a lack of oxygen. Different types of respiratory protective equipment work differently to reduce various substances, which is why it is important to choose the correct protection. Respiratory protective equipment must be used as long as pollutants are found in inhaled air; for it to work well, it must sit tight against the face. Filters become stopped up over time and must therefore be changed regularly. For hygienic and functional reasons, respiratory protective equipment must be personal equipment. They must also be stored properly during the time they are not used so as not to be passively consumed; activated carbon, for example, is consumed the whole time it is in contact with air.

Protective clothing

Must minimise the risk of bodily injury and protect against chemical sprays, cold, and bacteria. Protective clothing must be functional yet comfortable, so that it is used. Protective clothing must be marked with symbols/pictograms to show which risks it protects against.

Protective gloves

Protective gloves are used to prevent substances that can be absorbed by the skin from coming in contact with it. Different types of gloves are suited for different purposes. A protective glove should fit the hand and not be unwieldy, nor should it bring about allergies. A number of people can be allergic to the powder on the inside; others to the natural rubber or various additives. Protective gloves must be CE-labelled and have a standard designation: EAN 374. The glove's resistance against various chemicals, substances, substrates and so on should be indicated by a pictogram on the glove.

Rubber gloves

  • Natural rubber (NR, e.g. latex) is elastic and has good resistance against abrasion and to cutting and tearing, but may contain traces of rubber sap, which can cause serious allergic reactions. Natural rubber has good resistance against mild detergents, hydrogen peroxide, bases and acids.
  • Chloroprene rubber (CR)/Neoprene is also an elastic material with good resistance against abrasion, cutting, and tearing. The material has good resistance against alcohols, bases, organic and inorganic acids, oils, and fats.
  • Nitrile rubber (NBR, nitrile gloves, synthetic rubber) is also an elastic material with good resistance against cutting. The material has good resistance against aliphatic hydrocarbons, acids, and bases.
  • Butyl rubber has a low permeability for gases and provides good resistance against ketones, esters, acids, aldehydes, amides, amines and alcohols.
  • Fluoro rubber (FKM)/Viton has good resistance against organic solvents, aliphatic hydrocarbons, amines, acids and bases.

Plastic gloves

  • PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) is an alternative to natural rubber gloves for those who have allergy problems. The material provides good resistance against oils, fats, acids and bases, but must not be used against water-soluble substances or medicines. VLL is working on phasing out products containing PVC owing to its environmental impact, which is why this type of glove should be viewed as another alternative.
  • Polyethylene (PE) has limited protection against chemicals.
  • Polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) is water soluble, and must therefore not be used where water-soluble substances and solutions in water are handled. The material provides good resistance against several ester and aliphatic, aromatic, and halogenated hydrocarbons.
  • Laminated gloves/multilayer gloves often have poor resistance against cutting and tearing, but good resistance against most chemicals. Common laminates are PE/PVOH/PE and PE/PA/PE, respectively.

Protective ventilation

There are different types of protective ventilation; common ones are fume cupboard, ventilated bench, local exhaust, and safety benches. These work in different ways, and their functions should be taken in to consideration when choosing a laboratory method, and so on, so that pollutants are ventilated away. Alarms may be needed to indicate non-functional protective ventilation in locations where hazardous amounts of pollutants could arise.

A short chemical vocabulary:

Aliphatic hydrocarbons. Methane, ethane, propane, and butane.
Aromatic hydrocarbons. Toluene, xylene, and styrene.
Alcohols. Methanol, ethanol, propanol and butanol, as well as glycols.
Aldehydes. Formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde.
Amides. Dimethylacetamide and dimethylformamide.
Amines. For example, melamine, urea, aniline, morpholine, and diethylenetriamine (hardener of epoxy resin).
Esters. For example, ethyl acetate and phthalate, acrylate and methacrylate.
Bases. Caustic liquors or hydroxides such as ammonium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide.
Inorganic acids. For example, sulphuric acid and nitric acid.
Organic acids. For example, carboxylic acids such as acetic acid and formic acid.
Halogenated hydrocarbons. Organic compounds to which one or more halogen atoms (iodine, bromine, chlorine, fluorine) are attached, such as tribromomethane, methyl iodide, methylene chloride and trichlorethylene.
Ketones. For example, acetone, propanone, butanone, methyl ethyl ketone.

Contact information

Ulrika Moström
Environmental coordinator
+46 90 786 73 63 

Ulrika Moström