An Insight Into Protective Clothing for Hospital Staff

Friday, 21 November, 2014


Being the place where one turns to when in need of having injuries or illnesses treated, hospitals aren’t often seen as a place where violent attacks are prominent. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. With heightened emotions due to the suffering of a loved one or late night visits where alcohol is involved, hospitals in the United Kingdom see their fair share of violent attacks. The security staff, being those intended to protect both the hospital workers and visitors, it is their duty to stand between a perpetrator and a victim in a risky situation. Because there is the possibility of knives and guns making their way into the hospital, hospital security staff need to ascertain that they are properly equipped for the threats they may face. Bullet proof vests are one of the best options hospital security staff have when it comes to keeping their bodies protected during an attack.

Nottingham hospitals saw 280 attacks in 2013 and reports show that an approximated 170,000 violent attacks are seen in NHS hospitals all over England. In 1999, the Belfast Royal Hospital in Northern Ireland considered the implementation of body armour into the security team’s regular attire due to the increased numbers of physical violence. This is a something that has, in recent years been spoken of time and time again as more and more risk assessments are proving that hospital security are indeed amongst those who require added protection.


What type of body armour is available?

Stab Proof Vests

The frequentness of knife attacks as well as the ease at which one can come by a knife means that stab proof vests are one of the best options for hospital security staff. These vests are typically made from Kevlar or other similar materials which are able to prevent sharp objects from penetrating the fabric and getting to the wearer’s body. Stab proof vests are available in the covert option and thus, can be concealed.

Spike Protection

Spike protection is another option that should be considered by hospital security teams. Like, Stab proof vests, vests designed for spike protection are commonly made from Kevlar. The difference lies in the tightness in which the fabric of spike vests are woven, making it difficult for sharp and pointy objects such as needles and icepicks to make their way through. In a hospital setting that does indeed have a large number of needles, it’s important to consider the risks that one may pose if it lands in the wrong hands.

Levels of stab and spike protection

Both stab and spike protection are characterized by levels. Hospital security staff should opt for either a level 2 or a level 3. Determining the necessary level will be made easy after a risk assessment is carried out, where the most common threats are analyzed. The higher the level of a spike or stab proof vests, the more protection it will offer against attacks carried out with a greater number of joules.

Ballistic protection for hospital staff

Though not as prominent as the threats posed from knives and improvised weapons, guns are still something that shouldn’t be forgotten about when considering bullet proof vests. A risk assessment should be carried out as to determine not only if ballistic protection should be opted for, but also what level of ballistic protection is a necessity.


The different levels to be considered:

Level II

Level II protective gear is the minimum level of protection hospital security should seek when in need of ballistic protection. These vests are designed to withstand the impact of rounds including those from a .357 Magnum as well as other common types of handguns. Level II bullet proof vests are available in the covert style making it easy and comfortable to wear for long hours on the job as well as easy to conceal.

Level IIIA

The highest level available in soft armour is level IIIA. It’s able to protect against ammunition from 9mm submachine guns as well as those from a .44 Magnum. It’s important to keep in mind that a higher level of protection will be heavier than a lower level and thus, the level IIIA vest carries slightly more weight than the Level II vest due to the additional layers.

How a bullet proof vest should fit

The purpose of a bullet proof vest is to protect the wearer’s vital organs during an attack. As a result, these vests aren’t intended to cover the entire torso, but instead, should stop slightly above the navel region. This will allow for a full range of motion to be achieved and no restrictions to present itself when running, jumping, sitting, bending or crouching.

Safety first

The decision to wear a bullet proof vest when working in a risky environment is definitely a wise one. However, there are certain measures that need to be put in place as to ensure that the maximum level of protection is obtained from the vest.

  • Vests should be stored in a properly ventilated area
  • Bullet proof vests should be checked regularly for damage
  • When stored, bullet proof vests should be laid flat rather than hung up
  • Bullet proof vests should be cleaned immediately after use
  • Bullet proof vests should be purchased only from a reputable vendor

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