Hazmat suits are designed to protect workers from bacteria, diseases, and dangerous chemicals in the local environment. Whether a hazmat suit can be reused depends on certain factors. Find out more below.
Factors That Determine Hazmat Suit Reusability
Are hazmat suits reusable? The answer is yes and no. Some hazmat suits are reusable, while others are not.
Factors that determine if a hazmat suit is reusable:
- The type of hazmat suit (reusable or single-use)
- Materials used in manufacturing the suit (for permeation, penetration, and degradation resistance)
- The environment(s) the suit is worn in.
- If and how the hazmat suit is cleaned after being used.
- If the hazmat suit sustains any damage while wearing it.
- If the hazmat suit is within its projected lifespan.
- How the hazmat suit is stored.
Each manufacturer will declare on the suits’s packaging, user manual, or advertisement if it can be reused. Disposable hazmat suits often come in packages of 5 or more for the purpose of easily replacing them when needed.
OSHA’s Hazmat Suit Reusability Guidelines
The Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA) has provided guidelines on how to determine if a hazmat suit can be reused following exposure to dangerous environments. It is up to each individual wearer as well as their employer to decide if a hazmat suit can be worn again after cleaning. Not all hazmat suits are labeled as reusable or single use.
For more information, see:
- OSHA’s Technical Manual (OTM) – Section VIII: Chapter 1 – Chemical Protective Clothing – Section II. Descriptions – Part F. Classification of Chemical Protective Clothing – Section 3 – Service Life
How Many Times Can You Wear A Hazmat Suit?
Disposable, single-use hazmat suits are designed only to be be worn one time and then disgarded. Wearing a single-use hazmat suit more than once risks the safety of the wearer. If a single use hazmat suit is damaged, it should be disgarded and replaced, rather than repaired. The benefits of single use hazmat suits include being low cost, never requiring cleaning, re-storage, or worrying if they are still safe to use again after being worn once.
A reusable hazmat suit can be worn multiple times. However, this requires they undergo visual inspection, cleaning, decontamination, and even pressure leak tests. These types of suits are often more expensive in terms of time and money to own compaired to single-use hazmat suits. But if they are well treated, reusable hazmat suits be used again and again.
A hazmat suit that has no expiration date can be worn many times as long as it does not sustain damage or excess wear and tear. This depends on the type of environments and chemicals it is exposed to. If the chemical barrier fabric is in any way compromised by cuts, splashes, sprayes, or drips, the suit should be removed and taken out of service.
Damaged Hazmat Suits Cannot Worn Again
Never use a damaged hazmat suit, regardless of whether it is re-usable or not. This will put the wearer at risk of serious injury from dangerous substances that can get through the suit and onto the skin or inhaled.
Is your hazmat suit expired? Check out our our Hazmat Suits Buying Guide for some good tips on buying your next one.
Old Hazmat Suits Should Not Be Reused
Beleive it or not, but hazmat suits have a limited lifespan, even if they are left unopened in their packages. The materials used to make hazmat suits can degrade over time, simply by sitting on the shelf. Never use a hazmat suit that is past its expected lifespan.
For more information, see our post When Do Hazmat Suits Expire?
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The most important factor for hazmat suits is whether they can keep the wearer safe. So, it matters less if it is reusable or not if it does not protect the wearer from dangerous substances while being worn. Always inspect a hazmat suit before donning it and take it off in a safe place if you suspect it has acquired any damage.