EUROPEAN STANDARD EN 343:2003 PROTECTION AGAINST RAIN

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1 EUROPEAN STANDARD EN 343:2003 PROTECTION AGAINST RAIN Published by W. L. Gore & Associates Editorial support Petra Jackisch, Zentrum für Sicherheitstechnik, Erkrath, Germany

2 Suitable protection against inclement weather is one of the main functions of protective work clothing not least because a considerable proportion of employees work partly or wholly in the open air. However, in a context of European directives and national laws and regulations, employers often do not find it easy to choose suitable protective clothing for their employees. European standard EN 343:2003 Protection against rain, which was published at the end of 2003, makes it easier to find one s way. This brochure first explains the standard and in part two gives advice on equipping employees with rainproof clothing.

3 Part I THE EN 343:2003 STANDARD A European standard is a technical norm defining uniform standards for products or materials. A harmonized European standard, which like EN 343:2003 has been published in the European Union s Official Journal, can be used to demonstrate compliance with statutory or regulatory requirements. It is therefore an aid that is often used in practice to assess products or materials. Suppliers and users both benefit from it. 1.It is easier for the supplier to apply the CE marking to products or materials and sell them inside the EU if they comply with the standard. 2.The user can make an objective comparison of products or materials by referring to the uniform requirements in the standard. In addition to the CE marking, special standardized markings provide information about characteristics and performance classes. 3

4 > > Employee health and safety in the workplace is an important matter in the EU. The German legislator for example has enacted the Product and Equipment Safety Law (GPSG) and the Occupational Health and Safety Law in this area, together with the relevant implementing provisions. Whilst the GPSG deals with the product requirements, the Occupational Health and Safety Law and corresponding regulations focus on the safety of the employee in the workplace. If an employee is exposed to rain or foul weather for example, a proper protective clothing (PPE = Personal Protective Equipment) is required. The requirements that rainproof clothing must satisfy are set out in the Product and Equipment Safety Law. Similar conditions exist in all EU countries. TESTING REQUIREMENTS Water proofness and water vapour permeability are the main requirements for rainproof clothing materials. Relevant test methods are therefore a core feature of the EN 343:2003: Water proofness relates to water coming through the protective clothing materials from the outside (e. g. due to rain, fog, snow). Water vapour permeability (usually called breathability ) describes the physical capacity of the material to allow water vapour, sweat etc. to escape from the inside to the outside. 4

5 > > EN 343:2003 also contains requirements concerning the tensile strength, tear strength, seam strength and dimensional change resistance of the material: The mechanical strength requirements, i.e. the tensile, tear and seam strengths, apply in each case to the outer layer of material used to make the protective garment for laminated fabrics, to all layers that are firmly attached to the outer material. Each individual layer of material used to make the protective garment is checked for dimensional change, to ensure that the clothing does not lose its shape or fit. TEST METHODS The protective clothing materials are tested for conformity with these requirements. To guide the user regarding the degree of water proofness or water vapour permeability (= breathability) of the materials used to make the rainproof clothing, EN 343:2003 defines three classes for each property. In addition, the standard stipulates that the user shall be informed of the respective performance class of the material by means of a marking in the rainproof garment. EN 343 X X Classification of resistance to water penetration (= water proofness) Classification of water vapour resistance (= water vapour permeability) 5

6 WATER PROOFNESS Water proofness of the material is tested by assessing the degree of resistance to water penetration (Wp). Hydrostatic pressure is measured in a column of water (in Pascals) until water penetrates the material. If the non-pretreated material resists at least 8000 Pa, it is a Class 1 material. If it is subjected to certain pretreatments before the water proofness test and resists 8000 to Pa, it is a Class 2 or 3 material, depending on the degree of pressure. During pretreatment, the material is exposed to certain stresses: washing and/or dry-cleaning, abrasion, flexing and contamination with oil and fuel. For each pretreatment a new sample material is used. The seams are tested only on non-pretreated samples. CLASS 1 CLASS 2 CLASS 3 <130 cm 130 cm 80 cm 80 cm Wp Pa Wp Pa Wp Pa no pretreatment with pretreatment 1000 Pa = 10 cm water column = 0,01 bar 6

7 WATER VAPOUR PERMEABILITY Water vapour permeability is tested by measuring the resistance to water vapour, expressed as a R et value. The lower the R et, the higher the water vapour permeability (breathability) of the material and thus its physiological characteristics CLASS 1 R et (m 2 Pa/W) CLASS 2 CLASS 3 Major differences between the previous ENV 343:1998 and the EN 343:2003 < > > > WATER PROOFNESS Classes 2 and 3: Also materials with an outer layer coating are pretreated by abrasion before the water penetration test. WATER VAPOUR PERMEABILITY Class 1: Protective clothing made of material with a water vapour resistance of more than R et 40 must carry a warning about limited wearing times. Class 2: The lower threshold for the water vapour resistance of materials in this class has been changed from R et 150 to 40. 7

8 RECOMMENDED WEARING TIMES Because the water vapour permeability of the material is very important for the physiological wear properties of the garments, the standard includes a summary table with recommended maximum wearing times for the individual performance classes. In this summary table four different ambient temperatures at a constant physical effort are being considered. However, a change in the physical effort will influence the recommended continuous wearing time of the respective performance class. The standard requires the overview to be reproduced in the manufacturer s information leaflet for Class 1 protective wear, so that the user is informed about possible restrictions in the use of the garment. In addition the marking in the clothing must contain the restricted wearing time warning. Time [h] EN 343:2003 recommended continuous wearing times CLASS 3 R et 20 CLASS 2 20 < R et 40 CLASS 1 40 < R et Temperature [ C] Table valid for medium physical effort (150 W/m 2 ), standard-man, at 50% relative humidity and a wind speed of v a =0,5m/s 8

9 MAIN REQUIREMENTS OF EN 343:2003 AT A GLANCE Scope Testing range Protective clothing components tested Water proofness test classification Pretreatment for water penetration test Water vapour permeability test classification Wearing time Marking Protection against rain Assessment of materials, not of made-up garments No testing of thermal insulation and no marks for removable thermal linings Class 1: Material without pretreatment and seams 8000 Pa Class 2: Material with pretreatment and seams 8000 Pa Class 3: Material with pretreatment and seams Pa seams are not pretreated Washing / Dry-cleaning Abrasion (for all materials) Flexing Contamination with fuel and oil New Classification: Class 1: R et > 40 Class 2: 20 < R et 40 Class 3: R et 20 (5 cycles) (1000 cycles) (9000 cycles) Examples of recommended wearing times based on the new classification of water vapour permeability Pictogram indicating the performance class; Additional warning about restricted wearing time for rainproof clothing in water vapour permeability class 1 9

10 Part II FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON EQUIPPING EMPLOYEES WITH RAINPROOF CLOTHING The following questions and answers are particularly designed for employers and safety officers who are looking for information about the EN 343: Who is responsible for European standards? The European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) is responsible for drafting European Standards (EN). CEN members are the national standards institutes e.g. in the member states of the EU (BSI in UK). Technical experts representing manufacturers, users and test institutes from various European countries work together in the standardisation committees and working groups to produce standards that will unify product requirements across Europe. 2.Is rainproof clothing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)? Rainproof clothing for the workplace comes within the scope of the EU Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive. The directive is intended to ensure the suitability of PPE to protect the wearer from health and accident risks. The PPE bears a CE marking, which shows that the product meets the basic health and safety requirements. 3.Must the rainproof clothing in current use now be replaced by protective clothing according to EN 343:2003? A new standard does not automatically mean that new protective wear must be acquired. According to the Use of PPE Regulation, Personal Protective Equipment that is made available by the employer must be CE 10

11 marked. Protective clothing already in use and hitherto considered to comply with the directive can definitely continue to be used. However, attention should be paid to the performance characteristics when rainproof clothing is to be used. The markings on the garments and the manufacturer s information leaflet provide details of the testing on which the manufacture of the rainproof clothing was based. 4.Must new rainproof clothing meet the EN 343:2003 standard? Standards are not necessarily the decisive factor regarding the capabilities of a product but rather the regulations prescribed by law, i.e. EU guidelines and the PPE directive. Nevertheless, European standards are very often used as a guideline to make it easier to compare products und make a final choice. 5.How can I identify the right rainproof clothing? The right rainproof clothing can only be identified by looking at the intended application. If the workplace risk assessment shows rainproof clothing to be necessary, the performance characteristics required must be defined to suit the working conditions, taking into account factors such as the precise activity involved, duration of the work etc. Suitable rainproof clothing can then be chosen on that basis. 11

12 EN 343:2003 can be obtained from the website of the British Standards Institute (http://bsonline.techindex.co.uk). Further information about the content of the standard, the performance requirements it describes and the test methods for rainproof clothing as well as the details of particular classes of protective clothing can be provided by test institutes, specialist retailers or manufacturers. If you have specific questions about choosing suitable rainproof clothing, contact your Personal Protective Equipment Technical Committee. W. L. Gore & Associates UK Ltd. Tel.: W. L. Gore & Associates GmbH. D 852. TEGT3267L01.

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