Rain gear is an essential category of personal protective equipment that is often overlooked when it comes to protecting employees as the majority of the focus is on safeguarding areas with vital organs and limbs. This piece of equipment is often overlooked but is extremely essential.
Workers are exposed to hazardous conditions when it rains. The water makes it challenging to work in wet conditions, especially if the rain limits visibility and makes it highly uncomfortable for workers to work while their clothes are wet. There is another issue of evaluating the chances of exposure to electric shocks or chemical splashes that can be very dangerous for workers.
OSHA does not have specific standards for working in unconventional weather conditions such as rain; they do provide guidance for industries that operate outside that can be affected by rainy conditions such as construction, roadway maintenance and utility infrastructure. There are different factors to consider before you can identify the right rain suit for any specific workplace.
Do I Need Rain Gear?
The answer to this question lies in asking more questions that can allow employers and workers to have a comprehensive assessment of worksite conditions and requirements. The following questions can help determine major hazards during rainy conditions enabling the workers to select the right PPE.
- What is the frequency of occurrence of rain in the industry?
- Which tasks are performed by employees in the rain?
- How long do workers typically work in the rain?
- What are the hazardous conditions exacerbated during the rain?
- Are there any raingear standards applicable to the job?
- What type of rain gear is required at the worksite?
How Do I Select the Right Rain Gear?
Material and Functionality
The primary purpose of rain gear is to keep workers dry, and you’re considering buying a rain suit, you should evaluate the requirements of the job and the weather conditions. Waterproofing is important for keeping the water away from your clothes, but there are different levels of waterproofing that are prorated according to different prices.
Finding a waterproof material that can effectively protect workers during rainwater spells is a priority when considering workers’ safety.
Rain gear jackets usually feature insulation that can incorporate either 1-layer, 2-layers, or 3-layers in construction. Ponchos are generally one layer and do not have a fabric backing. 2-layered designs will usually have a coating along with the backing, but they can also feature two layers of PVC stacked on each other with no backing. The three-layer design typically includes an inner material such as nylon that is pressed between two coatings providing additional protection from water
In places where it rains constantly or relatively frequently, workers would typically be expected to wear rain gear throughout the day. It’s not easy to wear additional layers of clothing in an environment that is specifically more challenging during rainy seasons. Ensuring worker comfort is important as their productivity levels rely on the ability of the rain suit to keep them dry with a waterproof material while being extremely light that does not restrict movement and promote breathability.
Some raincoats add extra layers that can make moving about difficult for workers while lower weight fabrics such as polyester don’t interfere with the ease of movement, but they might not be as effective and keeping the water out of the suit. Another important factor to consider is whether workers require a rain jacket, pants, hood, or all of the above according to the environment they are working in.
Durability is also an important factor as different work environments can increase the wear and tear of outerwear garments, especially when they are repeatedly exposed to harsh weather conditions such as rain and snow. The rain gear should be made of long-lasting, stretchable, and difficult to damage. Top-quality heavy-duty rain gear such as ANSI Class 3 can be very beneficial.
Premium and high-grade lightweight polymers can be used to create durable rainwear. They can have additional features such as high-quality zippers and snaps with a storm flap that can protect the wearer from getting wet and the suit from any additional damage is.
Strong winds and rain can make it difficult to see clearly during thunderstorms that bring dark clouds preventing sunlight from illuminating the worksite. Even external lighting becomes less bright during rain, making it difficult to see the worksite and the workers. This is why it is important to have high visibility jackets in bright colors such as yellow and reflective panels to prevent injury.
Even when it is raining, humidity builds up, especially when working in hot and humid conditions, reducing breathability and making workers sweat more. Rain gear has to be waterproof, but at the same time, it should be made of a lightweight material that has proper airflow and ventilation to avoid excessive perspiration if the surrounding air becomes moist and trapped in the suit.
Modern designs have made it possible to develop top-notch coatings on rain gear that can allow for moisture vapor transference making the material breathable and capable of providing sufficient protection from the rain. Breathability can become an important factor in locations where temperature and humidity can affect worker performance as the wrong rain gear will only magnify the issues faced by them.
Once you have considered the different factors, you can decide which rain gear is the right option for you or your workers to promote a safe environment. In addition to worker safety, the rain gear also prevents the need to compromise on the quality of work come rain or shine.