Rainwear is important for those who work outdoors. In fact, being equipped with quality rainwear can make the difference between having a productive day and losing a day’s work. This holds especially true for those who work in construction, traffic, trucking, transit, waste management, commercial fishing or chemical processing.
Here’s what to consider when selecting your rainwear:
Rainwear can be made from either natural or synthetic fibers which are laminated or coated to provide water protection. Materials including rubber, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane (PU), silicone elastomer, fluoropolymers and wax are used to give a garment “waterproof” status.
When it comes to rainwear, denier is the unit of measurement that is used to determine the fiber thickness of individual threads or filaments being used. Fabrics with a higher denier count tend to be thick, sturdy and durable. Hint: you can learn more about this in our blog, Stop buying crappy rain gear: here are three features to look for instead.
PVC provides the highest level or protections against water, wind and splashes. This material is great for heavy-duty applications, however it’s not desirable if you need protection from punctures or abrasives. Another shortcoming of rainwear made from PVC material is that it tends to be heavy and not breathable.
This type of fabric utilizes triple-twined polyester or nylon which creates a tight, durable fabric. This material is puncture resistant and effectively protects against tears. In addition to protecting against rain, ripstop material also offers light protection against chemicals. Its lightweight fabric is ideal for construction, mining and forestry jobs (unless fire-resistant material is needed – see below).
While you might think that “fire resistant” is contradictory with “rainwear”, having FR jackets and pants can offer workers protection against flash fires or electrical arc flashes. These garments are often used by workers in the utilities, oil and mining industries.
You are only as safe as your most outer layer of clothing. That being said, it’s essential to wear arc-rated rainwear (in addition to your arc-rated clothing) if you work in the electrical industry (as per CSA Z462-18).
In addition to selecting a quality fabric, it’s important that your rainwear is highly visible, especially if you work in poor weather conditions, near moving vehicles or at night. To meet the CSA Z96-15 Standard, your rainwear must meet the following criteria:
- A waist-level horizontal stripe/band that goes completely around the garment.
- Two vertical stripes on the front, passing over the shoulders and down to the waist.
- A symmetric “X” on the back, extending from the shoulders to the waist.
- For Class 3 apparel, stripes/bands encircling both arms and both legs are added.