As pesticides are poisonous, it is extremely important that anyone using them be protected from the chemical, including the spray and fumes. Appropriate protective clothing and equipment must be used to provide a barrier between the pesticide and the body to stop the pesticide getting into the body.

Protective clothing and equipment must prevent dermal (skin and eyes), respiratory (lungs) and oral (mouth) entry of the pesticide into the body. Therefore, the protective clothing and equipment must cover all of the operator's body. The different kinds of protective clothing and equipment are described below.

9.1 Protective clothing


Full-length overalls which button at the neck and wrists should be worn. Trouser cuffs should be worn outside boots.

Waterproof apron

Where splashing may occur, such as in dog dipping, a full-length waterproof PVC apron and rubber boots should be worn.
Fig 5.35: Protective clothing
Fig 5.35: Protective clothing.

Washable hat

A wide-brimmed hat will stop pesticide getting on to the operator's hair and then into his/her body. The hat should be made of washable material so it can be cleaned easily after use.

PVC gloves

Gauntlet-type PVC gloves are required. These are gloves which cover the arm to just below the elbow as well as covering the hand.
Some types of gloves deteriorate quickly in contact with pesticides and must be checked regularly for cracks, especially between the fingers. Cracked gloves should not be used for spraying.

Note: Gloves that are cotton lined should not be used as they are difficult to decontaminate.


Only PVC boots in good condition should be worn. If the boots are damaged or cracked, chemical can soak into the material and be absorbed into the body through the feet. If chemical has soaked into the boots or they are cracked or damaged they must be replaced.

Thorough cleaning of boots is very important and should be done properly. Boots should also be inspected regularly for any signs of damage or cracks.

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Care and maintenance of protective clothing

All protective clothing should be inspected frequently and regularly to make sure it is clean and in good working order.

The operator must put on all of the required protective clothing before the spraying operation starts. At the end of every spraying operation all protective clothing should be thoroughly washed, rinsed and allowed to dry in an airy environment. Protective clothing should be washed on its own and not with other clothing.

If spraying is to be done on two or more days in a row, protective clothing should be washed at the end of each day's spraying operation.

9.2 Protective equipment

Pesticide application must not be undertaken without a respirator.

A respirator is a mask which fits tightly over the nose and mouth and holds a cartridge containing a special material. This material removes chemical fumes from the air so it is clean to breathe.
Fig 5.36: Respirator
Fig 5.36: Respirator

The respirator should be carefully checked for damage before it is used. Valves, the rubber, cartridges, seals or straps may need replacing. The operator should also make sure that the respirator is fitted with the correct cartridge for pest control work.

The operator must make sure that the respirator forms a good seal with the face. Beards or moustaches usually stop a good seal from being formed, so those who use respirators must be clean shaven.

A good way to check the face seal or to see if the cartridges are still working, is to put an open bottle of nail polish remover or aftershave or perfume up to the cartridge or around the seal edges. If the person can smell it inside the respirator then the cartridge needs replacing or there is no face seal. If the substance can still be smelt after a new cartridge is used then the seal is at fault.

Respirators have to be stored in a plastic airtight container away from the pesticides and from other solvents. This is because the cartridges are very sensitive to the presence of chemical vapours such as petrol, turps and other solvents.

Cartridges have an approximate life of 4 to 12 hours of continuous use. If they are stored with the pesticides, they may quickly lose their effectiveness due to the presence of chemical vapours.

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Face shield and goggles

A face shield is a mask that is used to protect the face and eyes when mixing chemicals. It gives protection from splashing. Shields can be used with a respirator although fitting the respirator under the shield can be difficult if using a single cartridge respirator. Often a twin cartridge respirator is easier to use under a face shield as they do not protrude as much. Goggles to protect the eyes may be a better option.

Shields and goggles should be used:
  • when mixing chemicals
  • when spraying for protection against spray drift
  • when working in small confined spaces
  • in dog dipping programs (because of splashing)
Shields and goggles must fit properly (goggles must form a good seal with the face) and not slip. They must be kept in good condition and cleaned after each job is finished or at the end of each day's use.