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How do you solve the problem of uncomfortable chemical suits?

13 October 2023

THE FACT is, chemical suits are uncomfortable to wear, with heat stress risk and lower productivity the inevitable result. So how can you provide workers the needed protection whilst giving them the comfort they deserve?

Chemical suits are uncomfortable. Fit, design and features can reduce discomfort, but at the end of the day, of necessity air permeability of chemical suit fabric is zero. Even most disposable suits (if they provide effective protection) have a level of breathability that is as close to zero as makes little difference. The result is discomfort, with risk of heat stress , slower work rates, a greater chance of errors and lower productivity an inevitable consequence. The real time limit on how long you can wear a chemical suit is not related to breakthrough times or Safe-Wear Times, but to how long you can bear the discomfort!

So how can you provide workers with the required protection and give them the comfort they deserve?

Lakeland’s new range of PAPR encapsulating suits combine two items of PPE to bring about a result which is far greater than the sum of its parts.

The fully encapsulating design, featuring attached socks and incorporating chemical gloves, fully sealed using the unique Push-Lock system, and an integral hood with sealed visor, is combined with a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) unit worn at waist level inside the garment (so the unit remains as protected as the wearer). Filters are connected through gaskets in the garment with the control screen accessible through the viewing window. 

Cleaned air is drawn through the filters and supplied directly to the hood via the unit’s hose (with over shoulder or over-head options), where a semi-permeable neck collar maintains it primarily in the hood for breathing purposes. It then filters to the rest of suit, creating a whole-suit positive pressure, with three valves to the rear of hood and body allowing the exhalation of excess air and CO2.

The result is a chemical suit which combines both a high level of protection – the constant positive pressure means any air-flow is from inside to out rather than the reverse, and a high level of comfort – the constant supply of cleaned, fresh air means an exceptionally comfortable experience for the wearer.

In addition, the restrictions and drawbacks of wearing either a coverall which is too often tight to the body, along with a face mask which limits vision and risks leakage through joins, or alternatively an encapsulating suit with the restrictions of an air supply hose, disappear with a PAPR suit. The positive pressure maintains an insulating gap between body and fabric allowing exceptional freedom of movement, and the time and mobility limits are defined not by lack of comfort or the length of the air supply hose, but by the battery life of the PAPR unit. In this case, up to 8 – 10 hours. 

Traditionally PAPR suits have been viewed as only for a select and limited number of more specialist applications. But the benefits of these suits over other chemical protective clothing styles are so great, that every user of chemical suits should consider them as a realistic option. Suit by suit they may be more expensive than coveralls, but they are a real solution to the multiple problems associated with extreme discomfort, and can bring about advances in comfort, protection and mobility – and the consequential, multiple positive effects on work-rates, accuracy, worker-satisfaction and productivity - that might make them a highly cost-effective choice.

To discover more about Lakeland PAPR suits visit the website