Personal Protection in Agriculture

Personal Protection in Agriculture

Workers in the agricultural sector face two particularly dangerous types of risks.

Although typical viral diseases amongst animals (swine fever, foot and mouth disease, fowl plague, etc.) cannot be transmitted to humans, people working in close contact with infected animals – farmers, vets or visitors – can easily carry (cross-transmit) the virus elsewhere. Many viruses are carried on skin, hair and clothing, and can remain active for extended periods.

Meanwhile, the use of phytosanitary products to preserve crops – 23,000 tonnes p.a. of pesticides, herbicides and the like in the UK – makes agriculture one of the most dangerous professions. Therefore, anybody working with pesticides or animals should wear appropriate personal protective equipment, to protect themselves and to protect non-contaminated areas from contamination. The choice of garment depends very much on the application exposure conditions and the chemical toxicity of the substance being applied.

Protection against phytosanitary products during preparation or application

For effective protection when using or exposed to phytosanitary products, it is recommended that CE category III type 4 chemical protective coveralls (against aqueous liquid aerosols) are used as a minimum. Category III type 4 protection provides users of phytosanitary products with effective protection against a wide range of aqueous (type 4) liquid aerosols, and active ingredients in solid particle form (type 5), and limited protection against liquid spraying (type 6).

The risk of exposure to lower or higher concentrations of active materials, solvents or diluents is especially high among individuals during preparation or application, cleaning, tank emptying or in the event of a spray malfunction. In these cases, in addition to protective coveralls, it is recommended that an apron or gown made of fabric with an adequate chemical permeation barrier is worn over the coverall to protect the most exposed areas of the body against organic chemicals. This offers an optimal practical solution; good chemical barrier at likely exposure points whilst retaining wearer comfort.

Whether exposure is light (visitors, maintenance personnel, equipment compliance inspectors, workers using applicators or handling treated plants) or intense (handlers and workers preparing spray mixtures, in contact with waste, or cleaning the treatment equipment), proper personal protection equipment provides added safety.

The chemical permeation data for the barrier fabric and phytosanitary product and dilutant should be consulted.

Protection against animal-borne hazards

Infective particles may be carried in many ways, even in dust. So workers and visitors need constant protection. DuPont™ Tyvek® 600 Plus garments can play a preventative role in human transmission by helping provide an excellent barrier and blocking out small size particles. Many coveralls, particularly those with inadequate seams, allow dust to penetrate. Therefore, for better protection, particle-tight suits that include particle-tight seams and closures are recommended. With overtaped seams and the option to seal the zipper area with a self-adhesive flap, Tyvek® 600 Plus represents an ideal solution if wet decontamination is not required.

However, for veterinarians, farmers and other workers who come into contact with live animals, infected faeces or body fluids, or the bodies of dead animals, liquid impervious suits are preferred. These garments should also be worn when applying cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, such as formic acid. Garments need to have liquid-tight seams and closures that remain liquid-tight during the entire working shift. As DuPont™ Tychem® 2000 C fabric has passed all relevant bio-barrier tests according to EN 14126 (at the highest performance levels), and the seams and closures of Tychem® 2000 C garments have passed a 3 bar liquid pressure test, Tychem® 2000 C garments represent an excellent barrier to wet contamination.

Decontamination with Disinfectants

It is good biosecurity practice to decontaminate protective clothing after use. Indeed, many countries have set special regulations (such as wet-decontamination of suits) to safeguard wearers of protective garments against various types of cross-contamination, and help reduce the spread of disease-causing pathogens such as avian influenza and Foot and Mouth Disease. DuPont™ Virkon® S ( is an ideal disinfectant of choice for decontaminating personal protective clothing , and can also be used to disinfect wet contamination on suits made of Tychem® 2000 C (see The fabric, seams and closures of suits made of Tychem® 2000 C are just as impervious to disinfectants as to chemicals, biological agents, bacteria.

Disinfectants with a higher, toxic level, on the other hand, may permeate through garment fabrics at a molecular level. To act as a barrier against these disinfectants, garment fabrics need barrier enhancement. Tychem® F helps provide an ideal solution in these instances. Tychem® 2000 C and Tychem® F have passed the relevant bio-barrier tests according to EN 14126 at the highest performance class levels. Both garments may be used to effectively help protect those at the frontline of food production.

For more information about how to be effectively protected from phytosanitary products, please click here .

Virkon® S is a registered trademark of E.I.du Pont de Nemours and Company or its affiliates. All rights reserved.