Review of standards for thermal protection PPE in the explosives industry
The suitability of PPE for use against different thermal challenges is often described by way of compliance with British, European or internationally agreed standards. The review compared the range of test standards currently used for flame protective PPE for both general industrial use and specialist PPE for motor racing and firefighting tasks with the thermal challenge expected from a range of explosive events.
Disparity has been found between the levels of challenge required to pass the test standards and the level displayed by the burning explosive materials – these practical challenges have been found to be significantly higher, causing levels of heating and burning which would produce significant injury to individuals wearing some types of PPE under certain circumstances.
The report recommends that harm models consider the effect of damage to the respiratory system; that further work is undertaken to better understand the performance of modern materials in an explosives environment; and that PPE should be tested against a representative explosive challenge as part of the process that dutyholders undertake in order to determine its suitability for use.
This Research Report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.