What Are The Different Hazmat Suit Levels?

| By: Mitchell Schena

Your career entails working with chemicals and dangerous goods.

Hazmat can very easily fatally harm you and everyone near you, indicating that a higher level of protection will be necessary in order to ensure maximum safety.

Wouldn’t you agree?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines a hazmat suit as “an overall garment worn to protect people from hazardous materials or substances, including chemicals, biological agents, or radioactive materials.”

The extremely dangerous chemicals, vapors, and gases that hazmat workers and emergency responders work directly with daily require personal protection equipment for minimizing the possibility of suffering any harm.

To facilitate better safety for the workers, there are 4 hazmat suit levels that each have a specific level of protection that correlates with the chemicals and substances they are interacting with.

The 4 levels range in protection level starting with “Level A” being the most protective to “Level D” being the least.

It is mandatory for each hazmat site to have information and details outlining the correct level of protection that is sufficient for the work they are doing.

There are 4 levels but what are they?

Let’s take a closer look.

4 Different Hazmat Suit Levels

Level A

Hazmat-Suit-Level-A

 

The highest level of protection for the skin, eyes and respiratory system that are all at risk when exposed to the dangerous chemicals in any state.

Level A suits require:

  • Full face Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)
  • Two-Way radio
  • Proper footwear including Safety steel-toe boots with shanks on the outside
  • Chemical-resistant gloves

 

These suits are used for the most extreme cases of chemical damage that could harm the eyes, skin or respiratory system with exposure. Example being an area that requires a permit to enter.

Level B

Hazmat-Suit-Level-B

 

Very similar to Level A, the Level B suit is extremely protective and the difference is that these suits contain less skin and outer body protection compared the aforementioned level.

 

These are utilized when the wearer may require less skin protection but still a very high level of respiratory protection.

 

Level B suits require:

  • Full face Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)
  • Two-Way radio attached either inside or outside the suit to avoid contamination
  • Chemical-resistant gloves
  • Proper footwear including Safety steel-toe boots with shanks on the outside
  • Secured wrist, ankles, facepiece and waist areas for splash protection

 

An example of a situation that would call for a Level B protection suit would be an initial site survey.

Level C

Hazmat-Suit-Level-C

The most commonly used suit, the Level C, possess similar characteristics as Level B but does not have the same level of respiratory protection.

 

The suit, predominately used when the hazardous material is identified, measurable and contained, is utilized when contact with the substance will not cause harm to the skin.

 

Level C suits require:

  • full-face air purifying respirators
  • Chemical-resistant gloves
  • Proper footwear including Safety steel-toe boots with shanks on the outside
  • Two-way radio as well as a hard hat

 

These suits are not permitted to be used in the event of a Chemical Emergency Response.

Level D

Hazmat-Suit-Level-D

The least protective of the four suits, the Level D protection suit is mostly used in areas such as a construction site and provides zero protection from chemical exposure.

 

Level D suits require:

  • Pair of coveralls
  • Proper footwear including Safety steel-toe boots with shanks on the outside
  • Goggles/glasses
  • Gloves

 

Level D suits don’t require much protection and can be found as firefighter turnout gear, for example.

These suits save lives each and every day by providing safety from chemical exposure that cause harm and illnesses to those who are vulnerable.

 

There are, however, several limitations that are associated with the use of PPE.

For example, limitations include but are not limited to:

  • Restricted movement due to weight
  • Restricted vision from face shields
  • Even with a two-way radio there are some challenges with communicating to one another
  • Overheating and dehydration
  • Level A and Level B cannot, for the most part, not be worn more than 30 minutes at a time

A PPE management requires training in order to create the most effective system.

Part of that training entails Hazardous Materials Training that goes a long ways in being able to identify dangerous chemicals which translates into a more familiarization with the equipment needed to protect oneself.

DGD Hazmat offers Hazmat Training Courses that are perfectly suited for those who wish to enter the hazmat industry.

The course will provide the insight, experience and training necessary for hazmat transportation.