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Knee and elbow protectors for indoor sports

A new European standard ensures confidence in knee and elbow protectors.

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Indoor sports are typically played on a hard surface, so any falls are likely to carry some risk of injury. To help reduce this hazard, protectors are available which are designed to reduce the severity of impacts to the wearer’s elbows and knees. However, it is important to remember that, as with all items of personal protective equipment, these protectors cannot provide protection against or prevent all types of injury. For example, they will not prevent leg fractures.

European standard

Now a new standard has been published in Europe which covers test procedures and performance requirements for knee and elbow protectors intended for indoor sports. Referenced as EN 15613:2008, this standard assesses the products for a range of protective properties (including impact performance), as well as taking into consideration comfort and fit.

In Europe, such products which claim to offer protection to the end user are considered to be ‘Category II’ personal protective equipment (PPE) according to Regulation (EU) 2016/425. As such, the protectors will need to be tested and CE marked. Part of the testing and certification process must involve an assessment of the chemical constituents of all materials used in the end product in accordance with the innocuousness requirements specified in ISO 13688 (Protective Clothing – General Requirements) to ensure compliance with current restricted substance legislation.

Physical testing

As would be expected, the main procedure in EN 15613 is an impact test. The magnitude of the force transmitted through the full thickness of the protector is recorded during a controlled impact. The lower the transmitted force, the greater the protection afforded. The standard caters for two levels of protection – referred to as ‘Class A’ and ‘Class B’. Class A protectors are intended for wearers with a body mass of up to 50kg, whereas Class B protectors are intended for wearers with a body mass of over 50kg.

Other requirements of the standard relate to the size of the impact protective area of the guards, ensuring that these are of sufficient dimensions to cover the parts of the body requiring protection. In addition, a restraint test makes sure that the protectors remain in place during use, and there is also an assessment which checks that the product does not contain any rough, hard or sharp edges that may cause discomfort or injury to the wearer or others during normal use. Necessary design requirements include a minimum width for any straps designed to hold the protector in place and an ergonomic procedure to assess any restrictions to movement or discomfort.

The standard EN 15631:2008 also includes minimum requirements for the information to be marked on the protector and detailed in the user information. The marking ensures that all relevant information relating to the guards is shown on the end product, and the user information helps to ensure that products are correctly used.

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

How can we help?

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SATRA has a full set of test equipment and facilities to carry out all aspects of protector testing in accordance with EN 15613, assess chemical safety (innocuousness) and certify (CE Mark) products against the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulation. Please email ppe@satra.com for further information.