Chainsaw protective clothing
Chainsaw operators are protected by specially-designed clothing and footwear.
The harmonised European standard series EN 381, covering the testing of chainsaw protective clothing and equipment, has ten parts and SATRA is fully accredited to test to all of them. In addition, SATRA is a Notified Body approved to carry out EC type-examination to enable manufacturers of protective clothing and gloves to CE-mark them for the European market. SATRA is the only organisation in the UK with facilities accredited by UKAS for chainsaw clothing and chainsaw footwear cut-resistance testing.
EN 381 part 1 identifies requirements for the test equipment and covers the basic design of the chainsaw cut test rig plus other details such as the methods of calibration. Parts 2 and 5 cover the testing and requirements for leg protectors; parts 4 and 7 cover the testing and requirements for hand protectors; parts 8 and 9 cover testing and requirements for gaiters; and parts 10 and 11 cover testing and requirements for upper body protectors. Part 3 covers the testing of footwear. The requirements for chainsaw protective footwear are contained in EN ISO 17249:2013.
The basic requirements for any product protecting against cutting by a chainsaw are:
- the product offers sufficient coverage of the body
- the material for clothing items does not shrink excessively when washed
- the materials and construction can resist cutting by a chainsaw at speeds of between 16 metres per second (m/s) and 28m/s
- the seams holding the products together have sufficient strength.
Items which resist cutting at 16m/s are classified as performance class 0, which is the typical performance level selected for hand protectors, gloves, upper body protectors and gaiters. It is generally the case that to obtain higher performance levels, for upper body protectors for example, so many layers of protective material are required that the garment becomes too uncomfortable for continuous wear. For leg protectors, the lowest allowable level is class 1 or 20m/s. Chainsaw protective products of class 2 and 3 are tested at 24 and 28m/s respectively.
The cut testing is carried out on between four and eight specimens depending on the type of product being tested. Typically, trousers are tested by cutting the legs of three pairs (or four pairs if they include all round leg protection). No test specimen can be cut tested more than once, although trousers and upper body protectors are regarded as consisting of two test specimens – for example, right leg/arm and left leg/arm.
With the exception of the requirements for footwear, which are in a separate standard, the other standards for chainsaw protective equipment have existed for at least ten years and some for over 17 years. A review of these standards by the European standards organisation CEN is currently ongoing. As part of these revisions, accredited test houses – including SATRA – have recently undertaken a number of inter-laboratory trials to identify any difficulties with the existing standards. The trial covered full testing of a set of chainsaw protective trousers according to harmonised European standards EN 381 parts 2 and 5 and the results are being considered along with other suggested improvements during the revision process. The results obtained by SATRA were generally close to the mean or median of the total results.
Further information on SATRA's PPE certification and testing services is available at www.satra.com/ppe
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