Hazmat suits are designed to be sturdy and stand up to dangerous materials and chemicals that could penetrate the material. However, hazmat suits can be damaged under certain circumstances. So what can damage a hazmat suit? Find out below.
What Can Damage A Hazmat Suit?
#1. Sharp Objects
Hazmat suits are made to be strong and resistant to penetration from dangerous chemicals and biological threats. However, the suit material is susceptible to punctures and ripping if it contacts sharp objects like nails, broken glass, or metal shards. Always be aware of the surroundings while wearing a hazmat suit so as to not bump into or walk over sharp objects.
#2. Falling While Wearing the Hazmat Suit
If a worker falls while wearing a hazmat suit, it can be damaged through punctures from rocks, nails, splinters, or other sharp objects on the ground. If this happens, the wearer should stop and either inspect the suit themselves or with the help of another technician.
#3. Exposure To Fire Or Lava
A hazmat suit that is not designed for fire related emergencies can be damaged by the intense heat, which could degrade or damage the material. Even fire hazmat suits can only handle intense heat for short periods of time before losing their ability to withstand it.
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Volcanic hazmat suits cannot directly contact volcanic lava without becoming damaged, even though they provide effective protection from hot dust and lava particles for brief periods.
#4. Wearing The Wrong Type Of Suit
A hazmat suit that is not made of the right kind of materials, or does not include the right fit of additional components, then dangerous chemicals can puncture the material or enter the suit through small openings. Always carefully choose the right type of hazmat suit and components (gloves, boots, mask) for the tasks you will be facing.
#5. Donning And Doffing The Hazmat Suit Improperly
Putting on or removing a hazmat suit without following the manufacturer’s instructions can result in a torn sleeve or zipper. If the suit tears while removing it, then the suit must be disgarded or repaired.
Also, when putting on boots and gloves, its important to have them taped to the suit to prevent any particles or fluids from entering the inside. If this happens, the suit has become inneffective at keeping the wearer safe.
#6. Choosing the Wrong Sized Hazmat Suit
A hazmat suit that is too small can easily tear when donning or wearing while working. It is important to choose a suit that is not too tight and has enough room for free movement of the arms and legs.
Looking for a new HAZMAT suit? Check out our our Hazmat Suits Buying Guide for some good tips on buying your next one.
#7. Storing A Hazmat Suit Improperly
Improper storage of a hazmat suit can lead to it degrading over time or becoming damaged. Do not store a hazmat suit underneath heavy objects or in direct sunlight.
Can A Hazmat Suit Tear?
Yes, a hazmat suit can tear if the material is stretched beyond its rip-strength. Try not to pull agains the suit or get it caught on any door handles, posts, nails, outcroppings, or sharp glass.
Are Hazmat Suits Fireproof?
No, hazmat suits are not fully-fireproof. However, fire hazmat suits are flame and heat resistant. Fire hazmat suits do this by a combination of insulating and reflective materials which reduce the effects of heat. These hazmat suits usually include a breathing apparatus with oxygen supplied for the wearer.
Can A Hazmat Suit Melt?
No, hazmat suits cannot melt unless they contact extremely hot objects, such as lava or burning coals. If a hazmat suit is worn in an environment that is this hot, then the danger is too great and the worker should leave the area.
Can A Hazmat Suit Catch On Fire?
No, hazmat suits are designed to not catch on fire. However they can slightly burn or melt if they contact direct high intensity heat or objects. A hazmat suit should not burst into flames while wearing it.
Can A Hazmat Suit Be Ruined?
Yes, a hazmat suit can be ruined. If a hazmat suit shows any signs of damage, it should be replaced and not worn again. Single-use hazmat suits are made to be used once and then disgarded, which could make the wearer overconfident in how they use them. The same could be applied to expensive Level A hazmat suits which are often sturdier and longer lasting than less expensive types. Even through hazmat suits are tested for tear and puncture resistance, they are not ordinary clothing that can be worn without care.
Can A Hazmat Suit Be Repaired?
Yes, totally-encapsulated chemical protective suits (TECPs) can be repaired if any leaks or tears are found in the material during inspection or testing. However, most hazmat suits are disposable after a single use and are not designed to be repaired.
UP NEXT: The Parts of a HAZMAT Suit Explained
Hazmat suits must be cared for and worn in the proper way to increase the chances they will protect the wearer. Hazmat suits go through a variety of tests to make sure they are able to withstand operation in dangerous environments. However, like other garments, hazmat suits can be damaged in certain circumstances.
For more information, see our post How Are Hazmat Suits Tested?