PPE Standards

HEAD PROTECTION

The standard that covers head protection is EN397 which specifies physical and performance requirements of industrial safety helmets.
There are a number of tests that are mandatory to meet EN397 these are as follows and cover

  • Shock absorption
  • Resistance to penetration
  • Flame resistance
  • Chinstrap anchorage

It is important to assess the risks and requirements to be able to take into account any additional specifications.

 

EYE PROTECTION

This standard details minimum requirements for eye protection intended for use with typical hazards found in industry, laboratories etc.

There are three main types of eye protection,

  • Goggles – these can provide protection for all types of hazards and can be worn over glasses
  • Safety Specs – these are more comfortable and available in a variety of styles however they will not protect against dust, gas or molten metal
  • Face shields – worn in conjunction with other items give full facial protection

There are several aspects to eye protection starting with the frame. All frames must pass the European EN166 standard which is deemed higher than that of the US or Asian equivalent.

As such the arm will be stamped with the EN166 mark followed by numbers and/or letters which indicate to what degree the frames passed and within what elements.

There are 3 main shapes/designs and they are

  • 3 – protection against liquid drops and splashes
  • 4 – protect against large dust particles
  • 5 – protect against dust and fine dust particles smaller than 5 microns

Strength of frames

  • S – withstands impact against smaller objects travelling 12m per second
  • F – withstands impact against smaller objects travelling 45m per second
  • B – withstands impact against smaller objects travelling 120m per second
  • A – withstands impact against smaller objects travelling 190m per second
  • T – withstand impacts at extreme temperatures
  • A frame can have a combination of these markings

There is also the lens to consider and there are 3 main types

  • Clear – suitable for general use
  • Anti glare – Suitable for use in high glare situations such as finished concrete slabs in sunlight
  • Yellow – Suitable for those moving from light to dark environments

 

HEARING PROTECTION

The general EN standard for hearing protection comes in 3 parts, 1, 2 and 3. The separate parts relate to different types of protection as follows.

  • EN352-1 covers requirements for ear muffs
  • EN352-2 covers requirements for ear plugs
  • EN352-3 covers requirements for ear muffs attached to industrial safety helmets.

The connected EN standard 458 often cited in the above standard relates to use, care and maintenance of the products rather than the use.

The hearing protection is given a SNR rating. This is Standard Noise Reduction, in general the higher the number given as SNR the better the performance of the protection. It is also important to remember that the SNR figure given does not relate directly to the number of decibels the product protects against across all frequencies (L, M and H).

So as an example someone using earmuffs where protection H=35 means a high frequency noise of 100 decibels will drop to 65 decibels.

 

RESPIRATORY

In regards to respiratory protection there are a number of different types and requirements for protection and therefore there are a number of different standards.

  • EN149 Disposable filtering face piece particulate respirators

Products tested to this standard are defined as filtering half masks offering protection against airborne particles. There are three classes within this standard covering FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. These Masks only cover the nose, mouth and chin.

  • EN140 is the standard in which both half and quarter masks are tested.  A half mask is defined as covering the nose, mouth and chin whilst a quarter mask covers only the nose and mouth. Both are usually manufactured from natural or synthetic based rubber allowing the mask the flexibility to fit the contours of the face.  The half face mask can come with a variety of different filters all of which, again are tested to EN standards in order to protect the wearer.
  • EN141 are gas filters to remove specified gases and vapours or combined filters for removing solids and/or liquid particles and specified gases and vapours and each type has 3 classes. Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3.
  • En143:2000 covers particle filters and these are classified according to their filtering efficiency.

Again there are 3 types of filter, P1, P2 and P3. P1 filters are intended for use against solid particles only, P2 and P3 filters are subdivided according to their ability to remove both solid and liquid particles or solid particles only.

When it comes to respiratory protection it is important that a fit test be carried out to ensure that full protection using the product is obtained and should be repeated at appropriate times.

RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) should be tight fitting and seal the nose and mouth completely to ensure full protection.

 

HAND PROTECTION

With so many products now being produced within this area there are a number of different standards that have been introduced

However, the standard that applies to all working gloves is EN388. It applies to all protective gloves giving protection from mechanical risks, in respect of physical problems caused by abrasion, blade cute, tearing and puncture. This standard also covers the risk of electrostatic discharge.

The standard is split into performance levels for protection against mechanical risk and are listed below

  • ABRASION RESISTANCE   0 – 4
  • BLADE CUT RESISTANCE 0 – 5
  • TEAR RESISTANCE             0 – 4
  • PUNCTURE RESISTANCE 0 – 4

The higher the number, the greater the resistance for that area of performance.

Please note that it is not the shell of the glove that is tested for the above but it is the protective coating on top of the shell that is tested as this is what offers the protection.

Also EN420 applies to protective gloves and this standard ensures that the gloves are comfortable and safe to use. It covers for areas which are as follows

  • LENGTH – The glove is measured from the tip of the middle finger to the edge of the cuff. These measurements are then compared to the required minimum length for each glove size.
  • SIZING & DEXTERITY – this tests the general comfort, sizing and also tests the dexterity of the glove in simple tasks such as picking up a pin.
  • pH VALUE – tests are carried out to test the gloves to ensure that they do not cause irritation due to acidity or alkalinity.
  • CHROME IV – this is only for gloves that contain leather components. The gloves are tested to check the levels of chrome IV present.

 

HIGH VISIBILITY PROTECTION

Again with so many products now being produced within this area there are a number of different standards that have been introduced.

In order to comply with all UK and European legislation, you need to ensure that the high visibility garments you buy comply with the following: High visibility clothing conforming to EN ISO 20471 (EN471:2003) class 2 or class 3.

The colour of the background material should normally be fluorescent yellow. The reflective material used for the banding enhances visibility in low light situations. The reflective material returns light to the light source, such as a vehicles headlight, creating a bright image that is more likely to be seen from a distance.

This standard is divided into 3 classes of which information is below

  • Class 3 is the highest of all classes and has set requirement that the minimum background material be 0.8msq, minimum reflective material 0.2msq
  • Class 2 offering intermediate protection means that the background material has been reduced to 0.5msq and the reflective band reduced to 0.13msq
  • Class 1 which offers minimum protection has a minimum background material of 0.14msq and reflective band reduced to just 0.1msq

EN343 standard relates to garments that are intended to be worn in adverse weather conditions. The standard covers both the waterproofness and breathability of the garment and the seams are tested for its water resistance and water vapour resistivity.

Again this standard is split into 3 classes again with Class 3 being the highest.