For industries that frequently handle or encounter hazardous substances and particulate, protective clothing like coveralls is an essential piece of PPE. Even when hazards are minor, overalls are an ideal way to keep work clothes cleaner for longer wear times. At Cromwell, we have a huge range of protective workwear to suit all safety categories from high-quality brands, like Ansell®, Portwest® and 3M™.

What are overalls?

Overalls, or coveralls as they're also known, are worn in conjunction with other PPE, such as safety gloves and overshoes. They act as a shield to the user's body and clothes and protect against all kinds of hazards, ranging from chemical splash to flammable liquids. Made in a wide choice of designs, overalls can feature hoods, elasticated closures to keep out debris, or thermal linings for those working in cold climates.

An essential piece of personal protective equipment, overalls are made in a wide choice of sizes to suit all workers. These sizes are ranged to ensure a comfortable fit for all, and sizing can start from XS (extra small) to 4XL.

Why overalls?

Coveralls can protect against a range of hazards, and, in high-risk industries, such as welding and chemical handling, add an essential layer of protection between the user and volatile hazardous materials. Many overalls are treated to protect against specific hazards like fire or liquids, and these can be identified by their associated safety standards.

When are overalls used?

In working environments where the risk of injury has been identified, or to avoid contamination in cleanrooms, there are coveralls and overalls to suit all requirements. Automotive, fabrication and pharmaceutical industries frequently use overalls tailored to their specific hazards, as well as many more.

Overall types

Coveralls are available in six variants to protect against hazards between PPE Category I (minimum risk) to Category III (serious risk). All overalls should be CE marked and feature the EN Standards for the level of protection required.

• Standard   -   This standard type is frequently worn in warehouse and mechanical settings to protect against dirt, oil and water splash. Ideal for workers who are exposed to minimal risk, they're often allocated as part of a worker's uniform and feature company branding.

• Fire-resistant   -   Designed to protect against risks of extreme heat and flammable materials, these coveralls protect the skin against burns and are designed for quick removal for maximum safety. They're often designated as FR.

• Waterproof   -   Designed to keep the wearer dry in wet or harsh conditions, these coveralls feature water repellent technology to prevent liquids from sitting on the fabric and being absorbed.

• Single-use   -   These disposable variants are mainly used in medical and chemical handling settings. They ensure a complete seal against the ingress of particulate and are designed for quick removal to be disposed of immediately after use.

• Hi-Vis   -   This type of coverall often features a thermal lining as they are mainly used at night, but also in low lighting conditions. The reflective strips and luminescent colours are ideal for road and dock workers to always keep them visible to any vehicle.

• Electric resistant   -   Resistant to electrical arcs, this type of overall is used widely for electrical grid maintenance that may involve contact with powerlines.

Considerations when choosing overalls

Hazards - the type of risk the user will be exposed to dictates the type of coverall they'll require.

Training - safety legislation dictates that employees are given adequate training to fit their PPE correctly.

Fit - Overalls are available in a wide range of sizes with elasticated wrists and ankles and sometimes an elasticated waist to ensure a good fit and freedom of movement.

Overalls jargon buster

Safety standards can be a minefield of technical terms and numbers. We want to help you to understand the applications of our PPE range so you can find what you want more easily.

What do the Category III 'Type' labels mean on protective clothing?

Category III denotes the type of protective clothing that shields a worker against serious and potentially fatal hazards. Understandably, there's a lot of testing and product marking around this type of workwear to ensure employers choose the correct clothing for the hazard involved.

Let's break it down...

Type 1 - Fully sealed for gas-tight protection against liquids, gas and particulate inhalation (EN 943)

Type 2 - Allows for limited gas-tight protection, and prevents the ingress of particulate, liquids, and vapours from penetrating the coveralls. (EN 943)

Type 3 - This type of coverall must be liquid-proof to prevent the ingress of chemicals (EN 14605) and compressed fluids (EN 369)

Type 3B - Protects against all of Type 3, plus the ingress of biologically contaminated particles (EN 14126)

Type 4 - Must protect against the penetration of liquid saturation, splash (EN 369) and some chemicals (EN 14605). These suits must feature welded seams.

Type 4B - Protects against all of Type 4, plus the ingress of biologically contaminated particles (EN 14126)

Type 5 - Protects against the ingress of harmful substances, like Asbestos in accordance with EN 13982

Type 5B - Protects against all of Type 5, plus the ingress of biologically contaminated particles (EN 14126)

Type 6 - Designed to provide (limited) chemical splash protection in accordance with EN 13034

Type 6B - Protects against all of Type 6, plus the ingress of biologically contaminated particles (EN 14126)


How should coveralls fit?

Protective coveralls should be comfortable and allow for freedom of movement for the wearer. A tight fit can cause tearing, while a very loose fit can see sleeves and other areas catching in machinery or lead to the wearer tripping and falling. When looking to purchase a coverall, check the supplier's sizing chart to get an idea of the size ranges.

If you get a chance to try before you buy, ensure you can raise your arms above you head, bend over, and sit down comfortably in the garment. When walking, ensure the leg sections don't catch on one another and that the elasticated sections fit comfortably and create a closed seal around the wrists and ankles. A good fitting coverall shouldn't cause any discomfort at all.

Can coveralls be laundered?

Most coveralls can be machine washed, but it's always best to check the labels on the garment to ensure temperatures and drying guides.