AITEX’s Advanced Protective Equipment Laboratory

by Neus Jorda
AITEX’s Advanced Protective Equipment Laboratory

LABORATORIES & INNOVATION

17th May 2019

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AITEX’s mission is to continue to innovate and improve the services we provide by concentrating on the evolution of our laboratory facilities for PPE’s which were outside the scope of our original remit. As a Notified Body, we have worked for years evaluating the conformity of PPE’s such as gloves, clothing and harnesses. Harnessing our experience to meet our clients’ demands, we have strived to equip our laboratories with the most up to date equipment to evaluate PPEs designed for eye, facial and respiratory protection, helmets and dielectric gloves for high-tension power line workers.

There are many different types of risk factors which could affect an operator’s eyesight at work and the right type of PPE must be selected for a given health and safety risk.

Another risk to which operators may be exposed, and of no less importance, is that of lung diseases contracted from breathing contaminated or oxygen-deficient air at work. The employer must provide operators with respiratory protection as a preventative measure whenever necessary, as risks may cause irreversible harm or even death, and this type of PPE is classified as Type III.

Type III PPEs provide protection in high-tension work, and the use of insulating gloves and sleeves is obligatory in any work environment where the risk exists. The laboratory performs non-destructive testing to current standards to individually test PPEs before use and then again six months later to ensure that the article continues to provide the class of protection for which it has been designed.

Last but not least is head protection: the head houses different vital organs that need protecting  and which are exposed to different risks including mechanical injuries such as trauma and impact, noise, vibration, electromagnetic radiation, electricity, aerosols, particle vapours etc.

AITEX has extended its scope as a Notified Body to cover the evaluation of different filtration and respiratory equipment. To meet these wider needs, the Institute has recently installed a range of testing equipment to comply with the various standards necessary to certify a whole array of protective equipment.

Requirements for helmets

The minimum requirements that a helmet must comply with depend on the degree and nature of the risk. According to the EU’s harmonised list of standards, the following apply to helmet certification:

  • EN 397:2012+A1:2012 Industrial Safety Helmets
  • EN 50365:2002 Insulating helmets for use on low voltage installations
  • EN 812 Industrial bump caps
  • EN 14052 High performance industrial helmets
  • EN 443:2008 Helmets for firefighting in buildings and other structures
  • EN 966:2012+A1:2012 Helmets for airborne sports
  • EN 1077:2007 Helmets for alpine skiers and snowboarders
  • EN 1078:2012+A1:2012 Helmets for pedal cyclists and for users of skateboards and roller skates
  • EN 12492:2012 Mountaineering equipment. Helmets for mountaineers. Safety requirements and test methods

Ocular and facial protection requirements

Harmonised standard EN 166:2001 specifies the necessary requirements for a PPE to be certified as offering protection against a range of risks, and further classifies the PPE as optical (EN 167: 2001) and non-optical (EN 168:2001). The first category covers properties including transmittance, optical power and light diffusion.

Obligatory requirements include the following tests: incremental resistance, resistance to ageing, stability in high temperatures, UV resistance, resistance to corrosion and fire, and others.

Specific requirements depend on the type of protectors and particular protection against different risks including: optical radiation, impact by high speed particles, molten metal, burning solids, liquid splashes and drips, large dust particles, gases and fine particles, electric arc flash and side protection. Electrical arc flash is tested under GS ET 29 and performed at AITEX’s Madrid facilities.

Optional requirements include resistance to surface deterioration by fine particles, fogging, protection with high IR reflectance and impact by high-speed, high-temperature particles.

Requirements for respiratory protection

Filtering respiratory equipment can comprise the following components:

1. Face adaptor + filter

– Face adaptor:

  • Full mask (EN 136).
  • Half or quarter mask (EN 140)

– Filters:

  • Particle filter (EN 143)
  • Gas filter, gas and particle filter (EN 14387)

– Masks without inhalation valves and with detachable gas filters, gas and particle filters or particle only filters (EN 1827)

2. Self-filtering mask

– Self-filtering masks can be fitted with a valve or not:

  • Against particles (EN 149)
  • Against gases and gases and particles (EN 405)

Requirements for insulating gloves and sleeves

AITEX tests safety equipment made of elastomers for electrical work (rubber and latex, synthetic, natural or combined).

Insulating gloves are covered by EN 60903:2003 + C1:2003 + C2:2005 and are categorised as below:

  • Insulating gloves (IG).
  • Composite gloves (with mechanical properties) (CG).
  • Long composite gloves (LG).

Classification by special properties are designated as follows:

  • A    Acid
  • H    Oil
  • Z    Ozone
  • R    Acid, oil and ozone
  • C    Very low temperatures

Insulating sleeves are covered by EN 60984:1992 and IEC 60984:2014 and are categorised as below:

  • Straight sleeve
  • Curved or angled sleeve

Classification by special properties are designated as follows:

  • A    Acid
  • H    Oil
  • Z    Ozone
  • S    Oil and ozone
  • C    Very low temperatures

EU Certification of Type

Before any PPE can be marketed in the EU it must meet the health and safety requirements laid out in EU Standard 2016/425, through the following evaluation of conformity procedure: EU Examination of Type (module B).

Through the procedure, the Notified Body not only evaluates the prototype of the PPE using harmonised testing procedures, but also its technical documentation, the information leaflet accompanying the article and its labelling. Once approved, the Notified Body will issue an evaluation report and an EC Certificate of Type.

The EU Certificate of Type will be issued together with either of the following options:

  •  Conformity of type based on an internal production appraisal and random supervised production QA checks (module C2) 
  •  Conformity of type based on production QA testing (module D)

AITEX has recently been approved and notified to test, evaluate and certify personal respiratory protection equipment under module B and to issue the EU Certificate of Type. The Institute has also been approved to evaluate Category III PPEs (module C2); which requires AITEX to undertake random production testing at least once a year, and at the latest a year after issuing the certificate to verify production homogeneity and the PPE’s conformity with that described in its EU Certificate of Type. Once each step has been completed, the manufacturer must then display the EC kite mark on its products, in compliance with the EU’s harmonised requirements and may then market the articles.

Protection equipment in this category, and the EC mark, must show the identification number of the Notified Body that carries out the production QA testing and be accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity in accordance with annexe VI, Standard 2016/425, for each PPE model.

More information: 

AITEX’s Advanced PPE Testing Laboratory israel.soriano@aitex.es 

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