Protective Gowns: Safety and Hygiene for Employees and Visitors
In the health sector as well as in certain industrial sectors, employees frequently come into contact with hazardous substances. As part of a system of robust personal protective equipment (PPE), protective gowns help to minimise the health risks posed by infectious bodily fluids or chemicals. They also prevent the spread of germs or hazardous substances to other areas.
Employers are legally required to protect their employees, patients and visitors as best as possible. Our online shop offers various designs of certified protective gowns for your PPE needs, including products like:
- coated disposable gowns
- uncoated disposable gowns
- disposable aprons
- and boiler suits
Protective gown applications
Protective gowns are widely used in the medical field as well as in geriatric and other care settings. They protect medical and nursing staff from biological hazardous substances like blood, bodily fluids, viruses and bacteria and prevent cross-contamination. They can also be provided to visitors in sensitive areas like intensive care units or care homes. Visitor gowns help prevent relatives from bringing germs into the facility on their clothing and from taking germs from the facility into the outside world. Protective gowns are also used in places subject to special hygiene requirements and where employees come into contact with potentially hazardous substances, including:
- medical and chemical laboratories
- veterinary medicine and animal care
- the food industry
- the waste disposal industry
- the chemical industry and production
- the construction industry
Gowns, aprons and boiler suits: key differences
In addition to protective gowns, our online shop also offers other protective clothing, including aprons and boiler suits. In terms of design, protective gowns are like a coat worn backwards, i.e. with the closure at the back. Unlike aprons, they come with long sleeves to cover both the front of the upper body and a large part of the back as well as the arms. This design means gowns meet the necessary requirements in many treatment and care settings where employees regularly come into contact with infectious bodily fluids like blood or excrement. Boiler suits or overalls provide an even higher level of protection, featuring a firm closure at the back and coverage for the legs. When worn together with gloves, protective footwear and face masks, boiler suits help offer full-body coverage to meet the necessary hygiene requirements when working with serious infectious diseases.
Protective clothing: materials and features
Protective gowns are usually available on the market as either disposable or reusable products. Reusable gowns are often made of a material called spunlace, a sterilisable viscose material, though other products are available in cotton. Disposable gowns are usually made of non-woven polypropylene. This is a very light yet highly durable material that is permeable to air and therefore breathable. It is latex-free, making it an ideal choice for allergy sufferers. Several kinds of non-woven polypropylene material are available that differ in the way the material is processed:
- spun polypropylene (also called spunlaid/spunbond) is particularly robust and tear-resistant.
- melt-blown polypropylene has excellent barrier properties but is somewhat less elastic.
Protective gowns are usually made of several layers of non-woven polypropylene fabric. Different kinds of polypropylene fabric can be combined to blend the specific advantages of each type of material:
- SSS non-woven fabric is made of three layers of spunbond polypropylene.
- SMS non-woven fabric is a three-layer material (spunbond, melt-blown, spunbond). It is ideal for clothing and is extremely durable and tear-resistant.
- SMMS non-woven fabric is a four-layer material (spunbond, melt-blown, melt-blown, spunbond). This material works very well as a barrier yet is comfortable to wear.
Because polypropylene is not completely impervious to liquids, polypropylene protective clothing remains breathable. This makes it an ideal material for longer-term use since it reduces sweating. However, non-woven polypropylene alone is insufficient when a high level of protection is required for handling contaminated liquids. These situations require the use of protective gowns with a polyethylene coating. Polyethylene (PE) is waterproof and thus provides a better barrier against liquid-borne pathogens and chemicals. However, polyethylene-coated garments are not breathable.
Protective gowns as personal protective equipment: protection classes and ISO standards
Protective gowns and similar products considered personal protective equipment (PPE) and are therefore subject to special, legally defined requirements. Simply put, personal protective equipment is equipment that protects the health and safety of the user. However, if the primary goal is to protect the patient, the product is called a medical device. When buying personal protective equipment, it is crucial to pay attention to the standards and protection classes specified by the manufacturer. The legal background for this is European Union Regulation 2016/425 on personal protective equipment. This regulation divides protective clothing into three protection classes depending on the risk the equipment is intended to protect against. Protective gowns used in the medical and care fields must generally meet the criteria of the highest PPE protection class, class III. However, protection class I and II products may be suitable for use by visitors.
The risks personal protective equipment is used to protect against can vary greatly in individual cases. As such, standards have been defined at the European level that specify the exact requirements for each area of use. The most important ISO standards for protective gowns in the healthcare sector are:
DIN EN 14126
Gowns certified under this standard protect against infectious agents like viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms. It is important that they prevent germs from penetrating the gown, even when damp. DIN EN 14126 certification requires several material tests, each subject to separate standards:
- resistance to blood (ISO 16603)
- resistance to penetration by viruses (ISO 16604)
- resistance to penetration by bacteria (ISO 22610)
- resistance to biologically contaminated aerosols (ISO 22611)
- resistance to biologically contaminated particles (ISO 22612)
DIN EN 13795
This standard stipulates special requirements for surgical gowns. As a rule, surgical gowns must be sterile and protect against germ penetration in dry and moist conditions. In addition, surgical gowns must not emit any particles that could endanger the patient.
What to look for when buying protective gowns
To ensure you make the right choice, be sure to take into account the protection classes and materials specified by the manufacturer. In addition, the following criteria may also play a role in choosing the right product:
Disposable or reusable gowns?
Reusable gowns are reprocessed after use, reducing material consumption and waste. However, because reprocessing can be time-consuming and expensive, many facilities opt for a more convenient, disposable product.
Material and material strength
Disposable gowns are usually made from non-woven polypropylene fabric (breathable) alone or non-woven polypropylene fabric with a polyethylene coating (resistant to liquids). Regardless of the material used, products are available in different material strengths. Products with a material weight of 17 to 20 g/cm2 are thinner and idea for use as visitor gowns. For medical and nursing applications, however, gowns should be at least 23 to 25 g/cm2.
Protective gowns usually come with ties for closure at the neck and around the waist. Some products feature snap closures (press studs/popper buttons) instead of ties. To ensure full protection for the front of the body, protective gowns are usually tied at the back. Products that are worn like a coat with a convenient front closure can also be used as visitor gowns.
Sleeve cuffs prevent liquids from penetrating the gown at the wrist. The simplest type of cuffs are latex-free elastic bands that fit snugly around wrist. Sewn cuffs offer a little more comfort.
Fit and sizing
Protective gowns are sometimes marketed as one-size-fits-all, while others come in different sizes (M/L/XL). Gowns can be adjusted for the individual wearer’s height at any time using the waist straps. Disposable gowns can also be easily shortened with scissors if necessary. In any case, it is important that gowns fit generously to ensure sufficient freedom of movement.
The different colours protective gowns come in are usually manufacturer-specific and do not indicate any special properties. However, different colours can be used to distinguish between different areas and functions within a facility. This allows employees to identify which gown serves which purpose at a glance.
Buy affordable certified protective gowns online
Play it safe when buying protective gowns and opt for high-quality goods that meet European hygiene standards. We only stock products from well-known manufacturers that have been produced in accordance with the applicable legal regulations in our online shop. All of our products are always available at fair prices. Depending on your needs, you can pair your protective clothing with additional items like disposable gloves, face masks and aprons.
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