printech,July,2004Sizing PPE

printech, July, 2004
Sizing PPE

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From: Gary Jones(
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 2004 08:41:09
FYI - From Lab Safety Supply's Saf-T-News at

SIZE MATTERS (IN PPE) Depending on the kind of work you do, your personal protective equipment (PPE) can be something as simple as a sturdy pair of gloves or as complex as a sealed suit with self-contained breathing apparatus. Your PPE could save you from some minor discomfort or save your life. Choosing the right items of protective clothing and equipment is worth careful consideration, but finding the right fit is just as important.

Unfortunately, choosing PPE for yourself or for others can be confusing. Understanding sizing conventions and determining which sizes are the right ones can be a challenge. Here are some simple guidelines to help you make the best decision when purchasing sized PPE.

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have figured out how to find a pair of comfortable shoes or boots, but in PPE the common items of footwear are overshoes and overboots. Overshoes are sized to fit over the shoes being worn underneath and correspond in size; a size 10 overshoe will fit over a size 10 shoe. Women's sizes are still uncommon in overshoes and overboots, but a workable rule of thumb is to simply add two sizes. For instance, a men's size 10 should correspond to a women's size 12.

Tight-fitting gloves can cause fatigue, but loose-fitting gloves can become a hazard. Gloves are sized by number (6, 7, 8, etc.) or using general size descriptors (Small, Medium, Large, etc.). Sizing can vary slightly among styles or manufacturers, but for a general idea of what number size will fit your hand, measure the circumference of your palm by wrapping a soft tape measure around your hand on a line from just below your pinky to just below the knuckle of the first finger. This will give you a size in inches equivalent to your glove size. An 8-inch measurement equals a size 8 glove, and so on. Size Extra Small is roughly equivalent to a 6- to 7-inch palm circumference, Small to a 7- to 8-inch circumference, Medium to an 8- to 9-inch circumference, Large to a 9- to 10-inch circumference, and Extra Large to a 10- to 11-inch circumference.

Hard hat sizes can seem a bit mysterious. They do not correspond directly to head circumference. Here is a general guide: size 6 fits a head with a 19-inch circumference; size 6-1/2 fits a 20-inch head; size 7 fists a 22-inch head; size 7-1/2 fits a 23-inch head; size 8 fits a 25-inch head.

Safety eyewear size measurements depend on the type of lens you have. With a single-lens system, size is measured in millimeters (25.4mm equals an inch) from the outside of the left temple to the outside of the right temple. If the eyewear has a two-lens system, such as prescription eyewear, size is measured in millimeters from the left to right of each lens.

Of all PPE sizing challenges, accurate sizing for respirators is the most critical. Confusion sometimes occurs because respirator sizes are given descriptors (Small, Medium and Large), but these do not relate to any measurable value. Respirators are made with the assumption that most people's faces and heads have about the same width and length. This means that a Medium size will fit approximately 85 to 90 percent of the population. Small and large sizes are made for a minority of the population. People who need these sizes generally know from their experience buying hats or prescription eyewear that their face and head size falls outside the norm.

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