Requirements and performance of protective clothing

Our work with oil and gas firms and industry associations to determine the requirements for protective clothing in their sectors began in the 1980s at a time

25.1 Worker handling steam wearing impermeable over-garment.

when little was documented about specific requirements. In Canada, as in most jurisdictions at the time, no specific regulations existed to mandate thermal/flash fire protection for these sectors. Safety officers in many firms were concerned about conflicting information received from marketers of protective clothing, and were interested in the development of a performance standard on flash fire protective clothing, addressing the specific needs of their industry. An initial study was conducted that included management and worker interviews, a worker survey focusing on attitudes and practices regarding protective clothing, wear trials of selected garments including winter and summer trials as well as evaluation of comfort, fit and mobility in an environmental chamber, and laboratory evaluations of potential protective clothing materials (Crown et al., 1989). Work was also begun on the development of a full-scale simulated flash fire/instrumented thermal manikin test system for thermal protective garments.

The study referred to above resulted in a recommended evaluation protocol and decision framework (Crown et al., 1989, Appendix 19), which formed the basis for the first specific industry standards and guidelines in North America (Canadian Petroleum Association, 1991a,b). Because the petroleum industry was North American if not global in scope, the CPA standards, in turn, formed the basis for both Canadian National Standards (CGSB, 2000a,b) and a National Fire Protection Association (2001) performance standard. To our knowledge, no similar industry-specific standard for flash-fire protective clothing exists elsewhere.

Overall evaluative criteria determined by the initial study included many aspects of safety/protection, comfort/fit/mobility, ease of maintenance, durability/appearance retention, functionality/compatibility with other equipment, aesthetics and cost. It was recommended that, when deciding on criteria for protective clothing specifications, individual workers' job descriptions and work environments be taken into account (Crown et al., 1989). This chapter focuses on the requirements for safety and protection. Maintenance issues, especially as they affect protection, are also addressed. Comfort issues are equally important but are covered in Chapter 10. Discussion on meeting these requirements includes both material properties and aspects of garment system design.

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