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Reducing hazardous chemical exposure

24 March 2020

In an emergency, response speed is essential. A decontamination zone with showers is an important consideration at an incident involving harmful chemicals.

The zone should be set up at the border of the area and must be positioned upwind to keep people safe from further chemical releases. The slope of the land must be taken note of to ensure that any water runoff does not contaminate the area on the safe side of the zone.

Everyone leaving the incident area should pass through a decontamination process, where safety showers can remove all traces of hazardous chemicals. This prevents chemicals on a hazmat suit, for example, from getting onto the skin of an emergency responder.

But what protects the emergency responders? Personal protective equipment (PPE) reduces the wearer’s exposure to hazards, imposing a barrier from injury between the user and the environment. In addition, responsible doffing of PPE is essential to reduce the risk of further contamination and exposure to the hazardous substances the user has been battling to contain.

The range of emergency response equipment from Hughes offers additional protection for responders and mass decontamination in an emergency or for the purposes of training emergency response personnel. Thorough decontamination of PPE also prolongs the life span of this costly, yet essential, equipment.

Portable decontamination showers offer the simplest solution:

  • For decontamination of protective clothing or as a temporary emergency shower, the PORTAdec 1000 comprises a robust foldaway frame with integral hood, disposable side sheeting and sump. This portable unit is easily erected for use in just five minutes and is simple to operate using the pull rod handle which activates the overhead shower and lower body jets.

  • The lightweight and robust PORTAflex 300/16e Portable Decontamination Shower is designed to remove contaminants from protective clothing prior to removal. This 16-nozzle decontamination shower is quickly deployed in less than a minute. The carrying case is compact and rugged, whilst also doubling as a base platform on assembly.

  • Combined with the hose assembly from the PORTAflex 300/16e, the PORTAflex CUPOLA Inflatable Decontamination Shelter is ideal where contaminated water must be contained. The openings on either side enable personnel to walk from the dirty to the clean area and aids in minimizing airborne over-spray.

View the full range of plumbed-in PPE decontamination safety showers here.