Safety clothing, its designs and materials.

As we all know, all company activities must be carried out in such a way as to prevent accidents at work and occupational illnesses.

Therefore, company management must be committed to providing its staff with the tools, clothing and training to prevent losses. All personnel must therefore wear the appropriate protective clothing required to carry out their work according to the risks present.

The risks are multiple: mechanical (displacement, tearing, breakage, entrapment, mainly at the level of body tissues and organs); thermal (inflammation, coagulation, carbonization and incineration at all levels of the body); electrical (interference with neuromuscular functions); ionizing radiation (rupture of cellular and sub-cellular components); chemical (generally specific to each substance or group of substances).

For these reasons, the company should establish guidelines for, among other things, the selection of safety clothing. Clothing must be designed to protect the worker and not to replace safe work methods.

Safety clothing can be classified into a few general categories.


1-Protection in situations of extreme cold or heat.

Thermal variations are also an aggressor that must be controlled. In this case, it all depends on where and how the energy is dissipated. The work clothing must either be warm enough in the middle of winter or allow the air to pass through the clothing in the middle of summer during a heat wave, for example.

2- Protection against chemical burns.

The type of injuries incurred is due to animal and plant toxins. These are less important burns, but they are very varied. They are produced by most substances and chemical compounds in sufficient doses. These types of burns are often very insidious. Working with these products requires a good knowledge of the physicochemical properties of the products. These products also require adequate protection: under a fume hood; when handling chemicals used in production processes; when storing these products when they are virgin products or production residues.

3-Protection against rain.

When a worker performs his work outside, apart from thermal variations, there is work that is done in the rain. Or during an accidental spill that turns into a chemical shower for the worker.


Signage is another aspect of the use of clothing. In fact, it is mainly signage that workers must wear when doing civil engineering or other work on the public highway (or near moving vehicles). Clothing for the protection of workers who work near traffic, in factories or on construction or demolition sites, is therefore very important.

The signs that must be worn by workers who carry out work in these conditions, if the provision of equipment, but also of safety clothing following an assessment is inadequate, significant losses may result. The employer will be immediately held responsible for these shortcomings, if he does not provide the correct signage.

Clothing used for the job is designed to be used to cope with specific conditions and equally specific combinations of exposure. Therefore, they must never be adapted, altered or modified to be used for purposes other than those for which they were intended. The regulations in these areas are very clear.


In all cases, workers who have to wear the identified workwear. Protective clothing is designed to protect the worker against chemicals, fire, heat, cuts, impacts from objects and ionizing radiation. They should be loose fitting enough to allow free movement, but never so loose that they themselves constitute a hazard. Full protective clothing may include such items as a hooded coat, gloves, pants and waterproof boots that the worker must wear when there is a risk of splashing dangerously corrosive chemicals. Body parts often targeted by certain clothing are long-sleeved shirts and long pants made of cotton or anti-static material such as a flame-retardant coverall. These garments are used for general work.


Their use is multiple, we use them in the rain, when workers are working inside places during cleaning jobs of all kinds with water or other cleaning chemicals. Work carried out with acid or caustic soda requires the use of raincoats.

Some work can be done with high pressure tools. In these cases, a heavy-duty (black) rubber raincoat must be worn.

On other occasions, white Tyvek overalls or equivalent materials will be used when workers are working with chemicals or various contaminants.

Usually the wearing of reflective traffic vests is used when workers are doing any work on the roadside or on the road. Along the same lines, life jackets are required when workers perform work above or near the water.

As an example.

When workers are required to clean elevated walkways or stairs, the work method must include not only maintaining a safe area around the area being cleaned, but also maintaining a safe zone around the area being cleaned. In this case, it is mandatory to use restraint chains (fall arrest) when the operator is washing the elevated areas. In such a case, the wearing of a raincoat is essential.

As a general rule, if there are no established rules, make sure to wear adequate protective equipment such as: safety glasses; safety helmet; protective boots and protective clothing.

Information on the CSA Z96-15 Standard for Traffic Jackets

The current U.S. standard for signal clothing is ANSI/ISEA 107-2015. The configuration of the back bands differs between the two North American countries. In Canada, it is an “X” on the back while in the United States, it is vertical stripes.



The CSA standard

There are three (3) clothing classes. The selection of the class of clothing to be worn depends on the level of risk to which workers are exposed.

Type of sector using the clothing Application Recommended class
Warehouse fixed place Warehouse, any place that is not on the road or that does not involve public safety people Class 1
Civilian workers on the road Truck drivers, road workers Classes 2 and 3
Public service workers on the road Public safety, municipal employees, para public sector Classes 2 and 3

Accuracy of company logo printing on signage garments.

There are limits to be respected in order to maintain the class of the garment. No more than 465 cm2 (72 sq. in). Of surface area should be used for one inscription. Logos should be printed on the material, not on reflective tape. The printing location should be at the bottom, either front or back.

If the inscription is to be made on the reflective portion, it should not exceed 142 cm2 (22 sq. in). In the area, either front or back.

Explanation of classes

Class 1

These are garments or straps with reflective stripes that go over the shoulders and around the waist. Reflective stripes must meet the CSA or ANSI standard. Included in this class are VV20 shoulder straps, orange or yellow traffic garments that use wide-mesh netting type material or traffic jackets whose fabric is not orange or yellow such as jackets made of red, black or pink material. Nylon jackets, whether yellow, orange or any other color, should be added to this category, as the dye is diluted after several wash cycles.

Class 1, level 2

Class 1, Level 1

Class 2

This class includes garments that cover the shoulders, back and torso and are made of an approved material (polyester). This material may be orange or yellow in colour and must have reflective stripes. The reflective stripes must be approved according to CSA or ANSI standards. Nylon garments, garments other than orange or yellow, and woven garments with large openings (net-type) are excluded.

Class 2, level 2

Class 2, Level 1

What it means to be CSA compliant or meet the standard   These terms are generally used by signal clothing manufacturers to indicate that the product has not been tested by CSA laboratories, but that it meets the standards. We’ve heard among the industries that a test costs $25,000 per model, probably per year. This is a way for manufacturers to avoid an expense they consider unprofitable.

In signal clothing, the quality of the retroreflective tape is of utmost importance. The 3M Scotchlite® brand is certainly the best known. The Vibrance® brand is used by the Viking clothing line. The Star Tech® brand is used by Pioneer. Retroreflective tape manufacturers carry out the tests. This allows garment manufacturers to focus on tape compliance while increasing confidence in the finished product.

The fabric should be orange or yellow. In addition, it must retain its colour after several industrial washing cycles. Polyester is often used for its ability to retain dyes.

Class 3

To be Class 3, the garment must be Class 2 and include a coat and pants. Several combinations are possible to achieve this. These may be a coverall or long coat type suit; a combination of a Class 2 garments such as a jacket, coat or sweater worn simultaneously with Class 2 trousers. Bands must conform to CSA or ANSI standards.

Class 3, level 2


Class 3, level 2

FR level

This level includes flame-retardant garments with an appropriate band configuration. The bands should cover the shoulders and go around the waist. By definition, the reflective quality of the tapes must be at least 20% of that of level 2. Level 2 is the highest level of the standard. Reflection expectations are reduced when reflective tapes are used because of the reduced retroreflective effect caused by the fire-retardant process.

Class 1, FR level

Level 1

It is a garment that has retro-reflective strips that are not level 2. Reflective stripes are less effective. They achieve 70% reflection compared to level 2. The Viking® Journeyman® raincoat is a class 2, level 1.

Class 2, Level 1

Level 2

This is the level of reflection and shine that corresponds to the objectives of the standard: you will note the configuration of the shoulder, back, torso and waist straps. This is the feature you are looking for to be visible. On the other hand, if there is a latent risk of flames, the choice of a FR (flame retardant) type garment should be made at the same time as the compromise on reflection.

Class 2, level 2

Class 3, Level 2

Weaves and materials for making raincoats

The definition of the denier (the size of the wire)

The denier is the weight in grams of a 9-metre long wire. For example, a 150-denier fabric is a 9-metre long yarn that weighs 150 grams. The higher the number of deniers, the heavier the fabric will be. The lightest raincoats are 150 deniers, the medium ones are 300 deniers and the heaviest are 450 deniers. Fabrics with more than 450 deniers are used for bags, canvas, curtains, etc. They are heavier and therefore more difficult to fold.

Oxford Weaving

Oxford weaves is characterized by its checkerboard shape. The manufacturers weave with 2 threads, one of which is lighter, this delimits the square shape which has the effect of a checkerboard.

Oxford is a type of shirt textile. …] Technically made with a braided weave, with the doubling of the weft and warp threads of the same “titration” or with doubled warp threads of smaller titration and a single larger and softer weft thread.

Source :

Its particularity is to have coloured warp threads and white weft threads; this accentuates the braiding effect forming a tiny quadrature.


Trilobal® weaving

The Viking company has patented a type of weaving it calls Trilobal®. This fabric has the property of being more resistant to tearing. The shape of the weave is characterized by separate cells that are connected to each other, much like the tiles of a ceramic floor. The advantage of this fabric is that tears stop at the affected cell. Viking claims that Trilobal® weave is 4 times stronger than Oxford weave. There is at least one other version of this type of weave. I saw it on an online tissue sales site. The product is made by Chinese companies.

The fabrics


Nylon is a high-strength fibre that resists tearing, puncturing and stretching. Its price is about 20% to 25% higher than polyester. Its weakness is that it does not retain colour. Nylon cannot therefore be used as a support fabric for all traffic garments. It does not meet CSA standards. On the other hand, for off-road garments, it is perfectly suitable, especially for forestry, agriculture and metalworking sectors. To make a good garment, the fabrics are woven with yarns of 300 D to 400 D (denier). Nylon fabrics are harder to the touch than other fabrics.


Polyester is a fibre with a low resistance to abrasion, tears and punctures. Despite this, polyester is widely used in the manufacture of traffic clothing because of its ability to retain colour. Several traffic apparel manufacturers use Oxford polyester. It is the standard weave in the industry.


Coatings are applied to the inside of the raincoats. Manufacturers jealously guard information about the thickness of the coating. What is generally accepted is that there are 2 or more layers of coating. When it comes to coatings, manufacturers tend to give a percentage by weight. For example, an 80% polyester 20% polyurethane raincoat.

Polyvinyl Chloride, PVC

PVC is widely used in the safety equipment industry: it is found in gloves, aprons and raincoats. The good resistance to chemical splashes and its low price motivates its wide use in the manufacture of all kinds of clothing.

Its low melting point of 160 °C (320 °F) makes it more suitable than sewing for waterproofing raincoats.

PVC alone is hardly ever used because it has no resistance to twisting and puncturing. It is not too practical for a raincoat unless you post it outside of two seconds. Clothing made of pure PVC should be soft to the touch; it is not uncommon for manufacturers to add fillers. This has the effect of hardening them in appearance. However, these fillers reduce the chemical resistance, tensile strength and puncture resistance of PVC. It is a negotiation between price and quality.

This type of impermeable is used for its impermeability to chemical splashes considered a low to medium risk. Resistance to chemicals is relative to the thickness of the lamination as well as the basic chemical resistance.

A disadvantage of this type of raincoat is its weight, its rigidity to bend, especially in cold weather. Some people claim to use additives that extend the frost limit of PVC. This remains to be seen and above all to be evaluated…

PVC Sandwich

In economic raincoats, both sides are coated and a thin fabric acts as a matrix. The thickness can be estimated at 0.20 mm. An example of a product is VP211 whose seams are heat-sealed, since the material allows it. The customer who opts for this product is looking for a waterproof raincoat. He is not interested in issues of comfort and breathability. They are looking for a large quantity for a low price.

In raincoats for extreme conditions, manufacturers coat both sides with a polyester that acts as a matrix. The thickness of the coating can be estimated at 0.45 mm. An example of a product is VP4110P and VP4215J, the seams are heat sealed as the material allows it. The customer who chooses this product is looking for a waterproof raincoat. He is not interested in issues of comfort and breathability. He is looking for strength and durability. This is the case for farmers and market gardeners who equip their seasonal workers.

PVC on the Inside

In the range of signal clothing, PVC is used as an interior coating. It is paired with a polyester fabric on the outside. This type of raincoat is recommended for workers who are going to carry out physical efforts over short periods of time and who are subject to heavy rain. This is the raincoat offered at Pneu Métro for technicians on the road, VP230 and VP231. The physical work period is estimated at 30 minutes. If workers dress appropriately underneath, they will be able to control their body temperature and thus obtain comfort and waterproofness. The water resistance index is 10,000 mm water column. These raincoats are so watertight that your body heat and perspiration will be trapped with you underneath the raincoat. That’s the sauna effect!

PVC on the Outside

Outdoor PVC is for raincoats subject to extreme rain and wind conditions. The thickness of PVC entering clothing is estimated at 45 mm to 75 mm. The coating is on the outside, the supporting fabric can be overspun cotton, nylon or polyester. Workers interested in these types of raincoats usually work outdoors in fishing or forestry. For example, the Viking® 7125J raincoat is a model used by lobster and crab fishermen. In addition, the PVC coating offers very good resistance to animal oils and fats. Resistance varies according to the thickness. The water impermeability index is 10,000 mm water column. These raincoats are waterproof, so your body heat and perspiration will be trapped with you under the raincoat. It’s the sauna effect! The right selection of clothing underneath the raincoat is essential for comfort.

Polyurethane known by the abbreviation PU.

Polyurethane is widely used in the safety equipment industry: it is found in gloves and raincoats. Its price is higher than PVC. It is its lightness, elasticity, porosity and adhesion that attracts the attention of manufacturers. Its chemical resistance varies according to its thickness. Most often, polyurethane is used in combination with another support fabric. PU is found on one side of the fabric. On gloves, it is located on the palm to increase grip, but it can also be found on the inside as a waterproofing membrane for raincoats. Polyurethane alone is almost never used because it has no resistance to stretching and abrasion.

“The disadvantage of PU waterproof clothing is that it is soft, has low elasticity resistance and can tear easily. Polyurethane is a porous material and when stretched, it opens these pores to absorb water (common at the back of the pants). »

Source: Viking Catalogue

PU raincoats are recommended for workers subject to low chemical splashes. They are intended for workers doing short-term work requiring physical effort in periods of low to medium rainfall. The lightness and breathability of the raincoat are the advantages sought by workers.

If the worker has to do a lot of handling and stays in the heavy rain, the raincoat will most likely soak in. This type of raincoat will eventually get wet. Heavy rains saturate the polyester with water and when the pressure is put on the fabric, the water ends up seeping through the tiny holes characteristic of polyurethane. The area usually mentioned is the back of the trousers.


Neoprene-coated clothing is more resistant to chemicals and abrasion. They offer excellent thermal insulation. Neoprene is often combined with a support fabric and coated with it. Neoprene is a more expensive material than polyurethane or PVC. It is used for workers in refineries, chemical industries and mines.

Neoprene-coated clothing is sometimes heavier, since it is intended for use in environments with a higher risk of splashes. Sylprotec will offer these products on special order. No products are associated with the online site.

To Have a Waterproof Fabric

You need a fabric, for example, polyester on which you will apply a film (lamination) on one or both sides. Coatings are usually polyurethane or PVC. For a better seal, it is preferable to apply tape to the seams left by the retroreflective strips and to the perimeter of the zippers. Depending on the material to choose, heat-sealed seams are added. This is particularly the case with PVC or polyurethane coated garments.

The PVC Coating

PVC is known for its impermeability and strength. It is non-porous like polyurethane. According to Viking®, PVC offers impermeability above 10,000 mm water column (exceeding 14 psi or 980 mbar hydrostatic water pressure). PVC-coated fabrics are recommended for workers in environments between -5°C to +18°C with heavy rainfall and strong winds. This material is for big jobs; the perfect example is the deep-sea fisherman.

Polyurethane Coatings

PU-coated raincoats can be of different qualities. If the film is too thin or the seams are not sealed with tapes, the raincoat is likely to get wet. According to the manufacturer Viking®, all PU-coatings show a certain level of breathability when tested. The difference lies in the quality of the polyurethane and the care taken in its application. The level of water vapour transmission (perspiration) can be as low as 300 g/m2/24 h when an acceptable level should be around 5000 g/m2/24 h. The best waterproofing is that which is coated with several layers of polyurethane. It is a bit the same principle as with the painting of your apartment. Viking® defines that a good polyurethane coating should resist water penetration at a pressure of 7 psi or 490 mbar.

Point to Remember for a Good Waterproofing

“Often the weak point is the application of the tape to the sewn parts. The tape has to be there first and be able to withstand the wear and tear over time. This depends on the quality of the application as well as the qualities of the products used. »


How is impermeability measured?

“The impermeability of a fabric is measured by placing it under a tube of water (water column). The minimum height of water in which the first drop of water pass through the fabric represents its impermeability.

This height of water corresponds to a pressure and is measured in millimetres. For example, 5,000 mm represents 5 m of water. The impermeability can also be measured in Schmerber. This unit of measurement corresponds to the number of millimetres of water height. For example, 5,000 Schmerber = 5,000 mm. The higher this number, the more watertight the fabric is. »


What is breathability?

“Breathability refers to a fabric’s ability to wick away water vapour. It is measured in Thermal Evaporative Resistance (TER). TER is mainly used to characterize the breathability of jackets, pants and overpants for waterproof hiking.

The higher the breathability of a fabric, the lower the TER, and the more water vapour the fabric will release.

And what does this mean in practice? The more breathable a fabric is, the less you will get wet from your perspiration if it is a garment. »

There is a breathability test based on the ISO 11092 standard which consists of trying to pass water vapour through a fabric. The TER measures the energy required for this.


Which breathability index for which practise?

“In general, the more watertight fabric is, the less breathable it is – and conversely, the more breathable it is, the less waterproof it is. But technologies now make it possible to have very waterproof and very breathable hiking gear. Again, you have to be prepared to pay the price… Once again, it’s your practice that will determine your needs.

When you look at the question of breathability and compare several products, always take into account its waterproofness. Choose the product based on a good compromise between waterproofing and breathability for your practice.

To help you find your way around, here are some indices of breathability and an indication of the associated comfort (in terms of evacuation of perspiration) for waterproof clothing:

-TER<6: extremely breathable fabric, comfortable to wear during full effort.

  -6<TER<12: highly breathable fabric, comfortable to wear for moderate effort.

-12<TER<20 : medium breathable fabric, uncomfortable to wear in full effort.

-TER>20 : fabric not very breathable, uncomfortable to wear for a moderate effort. »


How do you make a fabric breathable?

“It is possible to use coatings or (breathable) membranes to make a fabric waterproof and breathable. The breathability of a waterproof fabric is usually achieved by one of these two processes:

– Mechanical: the holes in the membrane or coating are large enough to allow water vapour molecules to pass through, but too small to allow water to pass in a liquid state – the water molecules are agglomerated together and form water drops. So, it is the part of your perspiration that is in the gaseous state that can be evacuated. This is the principle, for example, of Gore-Tex.

– Chemical: hydrophilic molecules contained in the membrane or coating attract water vapour from the inside and evacuate it to the outside. This is done by a difference of temperature and relative humidity on either side of the fabric. »


A few tips and mistakes to avoid

“Beware, even with extremely breathable clothing, you can get wet from your perspiration.

If, for example, on a rainy day, you keep your fleece under your waterproof coat while you’re making a physical effort; you’ll be very hot, but you’re “lazy” about taking it off, you’ll regret it when you’re soaked and cold for the rest of the day.

To avoid sweating too much under waterproof clothing, regulate your body temperature by properly managing your layers of clothing and using vents.

The different ventilation systems (zippers, mesh, etc.) are also an important point to consider when choosing waterproof material.

Here is one last point to understand: when a waterproof and breathable fabric is saturated with water (the surface is completely wet), the fabric no longer breathes and water vapour cannot be evacuated. It is therefore necessary to avoid that:

-your perspiration condenses (that there are drops of water) on the inside of the fabric. If this happens, sponge the inside of the fabric.

-The outer fabric is saturated with water. You can’t do much about it, but don’t be surprised if you still sweat in the rain in your outdated Gore-Tex shoes. Because the surface is covered with a film of water, your perspiration “stays” inside. However, this can be partly remedied by using water-repellent treatments. »


Characterization of coatings (Lamination)

2 sides PVC Lamination   Lamination Neoprene
Avantage Low cost For low splash hazard work. Average weight varies according to the thickness. Low resistance to stretching. A thickness of 0.45 mm is considered good for protection against chemical splashes. Easy to clean, glossy finish. Average cost For low splash hazard work. Light weight depending on thickness. Low resistance to stretching. PU is a porous material; it wicks away perspiration and becomes waterproof with several layers. Easy to clean. Provides better comfort to perspiration, but is less waterproof. Medium-high cost For low splash hazard work. High weight depending on thickness. Low resistance to stretching. A thickness of 0.45 mm is considered good for protection against chemical splashes. Easy to clean. When the raincoat is manufactured with a multi-layer laminate, it considerably increases its resistance to delamination. Ideal for animal fats and caustic acids. Provides better waterproofing, but less comfortable. Sauna effect. High cost Very high resistance to chemicals. Exceptional resistance to oil, fats and acids. Superior resistance to stretching, tearing and punctures. Also, good thermal resistance.
Type of business agriculture, fishing, construction Workers making an effort and subjected for short periods to rain. Processing of fish and animal products. Mining, chemical industry, oil industry.  

Materials and fabrics

  Nylon Fabric Polyester Fabric Trilobal®, Viking® polyester
Avantage Nylon is a yarn with high tensile strength. In addition, it is difficult to tear, cut and puncture. When combined with a PVC or polyurethane coating (lamination), the fabric becomes 100% waterproof. Medium-weight yarn that does not hold dye very well. It discolours after several washes. Therefore, it cannot be used for signal clothing. Polyester is a yarn with low tensile strength. However, the way the yarns are woven can considerably increase the durability of the fabric. The most common weave is Oxford. When combined with a PVC or polyurethane coating (lamination), it becomes 100% waterproof. Yarn forming fabrics of light to medium weight (150 D to 300 D), flexible and supple, in short comfortable to wear. It retains dye very well, which is why it is the material used in the manufacture of signal clothing. Polyester is a yarn with low tensile strength. On the other hand, the way in which the threads are woven can considerably increase the durability of the fabric. This is the case with the weave used by Viking®, which is called Trilobal®. According to the manufacturer, these are cells that are insulated from each other. If a tear is initiated, it will be limited to the starting cell, unlike more traditional weaves. According to Viking®, their 300-denier Trilobal® fabric is stronger than a regular 400-denier woven fabric. It is superior for its resistance to abrasion, punctures and tears. This fabric paired with PVC or polyurethane coatings makes raincoats more resistant to tearing. Yarn forming fabrics that are light weight, flexible and soft, in short comfortable to wear. Retains dye very well, which is why it is the fabric used in the manufacture of signal clothing.
Type of companies Mining, chemical industries, timber yards, agriculture Road control, industry that can take a medium to low resistance garments. Road control, forestry industry, mining industry, construction industry. Municipal employees.

UPF protection factors

UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and can cause damage to the lower layers of the skin. These rays cause burns, wrinkles, skin spots, brown skin, precancerous skin lesions and skin cancers. UVB is a small fraction of ultraviolet radiation.

To define the level of protection of a garment from the sun’s rays, it is assigned an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). The colour of the fabric, the weave pattern, the thickness of the fabric, the type of material and even the treatments undergone by the fabric are elements that influence the final result of the UV Protection Factor.

According to the manufacturer Viking®, the most garments with a weight of 280 g/m2 and above obtain the protection level of 50 UPF. The FPRUV classification is carried out by ASTM International. These classifications comply with AS/NZS 4399 of the Australian/New Zealand Standard for Sun Protective Clothing and are tested under AATCC, Test Method 183.

FPRUV factor Assessment of the level of protection What is blocked

15 to 24 FPRUV Good UV protection Blocks between 93.3% and 95.9% of UV radiation

From 25 to 39 FPRUV Very good UV protection Blocks between 96% and 97.4% of UV radiation

We hope that this information will help you to better select your protective clothing. If you are looking to purchase clothing, you can always call on Sylprotec. They have a store in Saint-Leonard as well as a first-rate transactional website. Protective clothing can be found under the individual protection tab.

Sylvain Patrice t.p. i.

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