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Back protection for winter sports

Demand is growing for products that offer protection for the back against accidental impact during winter sports.

There are no current specific European standards for back protection in winter sport applications. This issue has been discussed by both CEN/TC162/WG11 (the European standards technical committee responsible for such standardisation) and Vertical Group 9, the association of Notified Bodies involved with the test and certification of sports and motorcyclists’ protective clothing.

As an interim measure, a Vertical Group 9 meeting proposed that the standard EN 1621-2 motorcyclists’ back protectors should be used as the basis of a test regime for winter sports back protectors. This is because there is a history of motorcyclists’ armour being used in these sporting applications and there is a similarity in the impact conditions. Wearer body dimensions and movements are also comparable. The proposal involves the protectors meeting all of the requirements of EN 1621-2, and that they be reassessed for impact performance after conditioning at –20ºC. This is to ensure that when they are used in low temperatures, the impact protective qualities will not be adversely affected. The group also recommended that a restraint test be included to ensure that the protector remains in place both during wear and any falls.

EN 1621-2:2014 is a standard that has been specifically developed for motorcyclists’ back protectors and includes sizing, impact, fit and ergonomics assessments as follows:

Sizing

Sizing checks are carried out to assess product suitability for intended wearers. EN 1621-2 requires that templates be made in accordance with the specified requirements, based on the intended wearer’s torso length (recommended by the manufacturer). These templates are then placed upon the product and assessed to see if adequate protective coverage would be provided for a wearer of this torso length.

Impact

The back protectors are then subjected to impacts of 50 joules. These impacts are carried out within the protective zone, which has been marked on the protector as part of the sizing assessment. The transmitted force results are then compared to the following impact requirements to determine the level of protection that the product is offering:

Level 1 Mean Transmitted Force: <18kN
and Maximum Transmitted Force: ≤24kN

Level 2 Mean Transmitted Force: <9kN and
Maximum Transmitted Force: ≤12kN

Fit and ergonomics

As with the sizing assessment, the reason for carrying out fit and ergonomics evaluations is to ensure the suitability of the product for intended wearers with the torso length recommended by the manufacturer. This assessment is important as it provides information on the compatibility of the protector with a wearer during normal use and any restrictions to normal body movements.

In order to carry out such investigations, human subjects of a suitable torso length are asked to wear the protector and assess its performance during a variety of tasks that a user would be expected to carry out during normal use. This will need to include movements typical of winter sports, such as crouching and turning the head.

Further information on SATRA's PPE certification and testing services is available at www.satra.com/ppe

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SATRA has a wide range of specialist equipment to carry out the testing of various protective products for both motorcyclists and winter sportsmen/women. Please email ppe@satra.com for further information.