What Does Encapsulated Suit Level Mean?
An encapsulated suit level refers to the nature and level of protection that is provided to workers by a hazardous materials suit, also known as a decontamination or hazmat suit.
An encapsulated suit fully encloses (encapsulates) the worker, leaving zero or very limited avenues for substances to enter the suit and come into contact with the worker.
Safeopedia Explains Encapsulated Suit Level
In the United States, hazmat suits are classified according to four levels of protective capability, ranging from Level A (highest) to Level D (lowest). Level A quality suits must be encapsulated, and Level B quality suits are often encapsulated. The requirements inherent to these suit levels are described in OSHA standards 1910.120, and they may be referred to as OSHA Level A or OSHA Level B Industry Standards. Level C and D suits are not encapsulated.
A Level A hazmat suit always consists of a fully encapsulating chemical entry suit with a full face-piece and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). To qualify as Level A, the suit must be vapor-tight. OSHA Level A standards require the presence of several other components in order for an encapsulated suit to be considered Level A compliant. These include an intrinsically safe two-way radio, chemical-resistant gloves and boots—the latter with steel toes and shanks—and specific clothing requirements such as the use of coveralls and long underwear.
Level B suits are used when a working environment requires a high level of respiratory protection but a lower level of skin protection than Level A suits. They are worn when vapor protective clothing is not required. Unlike the total encapsulation provided by a Level A suit, Level B encapsulated suits are often secured tightly at the wrist and ankles; however, they must still meet many of the same OSHA requirements as Level A suits, including the use of a self-contained breathing apparatus.