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Physical Degradation

Last updated: November 10, 2018

What Does Physical Degradation Mean?

Physical degradation involves changes to materials resulting from ambient conditions like sunlight, heat, humidity, exposure to chemicals or general wear and tear. Its form depends on the material in question, but generalised examples of the symptoms of degradation of materials include discoloration, swelling, loss of strength, changes in the properties of materials or signs of deterioration. Physical degradation may affect any material.

Safeopedia Explains Physical Degradation

Although any material or piece of equipment may be affected by physical degradation, it is of particular importance in the inspection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). For example, if a material is designed to protect workers from chemical exposure, and degradation is not noticed, the PPE will no longer be effective for its intended purpose and the employee using the PPE will not be adequately protected from the hazard. PPE should be inspected before use and be replaced if there is any indication of degradation.


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