What should I look for in a coverall for asbestos abatement work?

Presented by: Cordova Safety Products


Q:

What should I look for in a coverall for asbestos abatement work?

A:

Disposable coveralls should be used for asbestos abatement work in order to prevent asbestos contamination of your work clothes. Not any disposable coveralls will do as they can let asbestos fibers enter through the coveralls. Asbestos abatement coveralls should not be washed and reused.

(Learn about 7 Key Disposable Protective Clothing Options to Consider).

When selecting disposable coveralls for asbestos abatement look for Type 5 disposable coveralls. ISO 13982-1:2004 Protective Clothing for use Against Solid Particulates outlines the performance requirements for chemical protective clothing (Type 5 clothing) which provides full body protection against airborne solid particulates. They need to protect against exposure to fibers over the permissible exposure limits and excursion limits.

The standard was last reviewed in 2018 and specifies minimum requirements for Type 5 protective clothing, which are specifically designed to resist penetration by solid particles.

Any disposable coverall that meets the 13982-1:2004 Type 5, category 3 or equivalent classification should meet the standard for asbestos abatement.

Coveralls with Velcro should not be used, and coveralls with pockets that are open should not be used because of the risk of contamination and resistance to decontamination. Suits should have fitted hoods and arm and pant cuffs that protect against intrusion of asbestos particles. The coverall arm cuffs need to be taped, and pant cuffs should be pulled over the boots and taped to prevent intrusion. Rubber boots should be worn where possible because they are easier to decontaminate. Hoods should always be worn over respirator straps and coveralls should never be taken home and laundered. It is best to purchase coveralls that are one size too big to allow freedom of movement and reduce the risk of tears.

(Read more in FAQ: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Asbestos Handling.)

A competent person should inspect the protective clothing at least once per shift and if there are rips and tears, the coveralls should be immediately replaced. Used coveralls should be treated as asbestos waste and should be properly disposed of as per regulations.

To meet Type 5 requirements, protective clothing must meet criteria and testing requirements. Seams should be constructed to prevent the penetration of particles through holes for stitching and other components. Seam strength must meet specified requirements.

Testing is often performed on real people in test chambers where they conduct a series of exercises to simulate normal work. The coveralls are then inspected for damage.

When looking for coveralls that are adequate for asbestos abatement work, look for Type 5 coveralls. The manufacturer should specify that they are adequate for asbestos abatement.

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Written by Todd Wells
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Todd Wells is a safety professional who works to turn complex projects into successes, implementing effective safety initiatives and consistently achieving measurable positive results on his projects.

Todd is currently a Surface Safety Coordinator with Hatch and understands that world-class safety is about establishing a culture that manages risks and workplace behaviors that cost money.

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