Clothing protecting against selected physical hazards: thermal hazards
Agnieszka Kurczewska ,CIOP-PIB
Grażyna Bartkowiak ,CIOP-PIB
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Definitions
- 3 General requirements for protective clothing
- 4 Risk assessment for the selection of protective clothin
- 5 Clothing protecting against heat and flame
- 5.1 Parameters characterizing the resistance of protective clothing to heat and flame
- 5.2 Requirements for protective clothing against heat and flame in accordance with European standards
- 5.3 Examples of clothing designed to protect against heat and flame
- 5.4 Selection of protective clothing to the level of risks in hot workplaces - rules of application
- 6 Clothing protecting against rain, cool environments and cold
- 6.1 Definitions - Parameters characterizing environment and clothing protecting against cold
- 6.2 General requirements for clothing protecting against rain, cool environments and cold
- 7 References
- 8 Links for further reading
This article describes the requirements, according to directives and standards for clothing protecting against selected physical hazards, such as thermal hazards, including cold, heat and flames. In addition, the protection against rain is also discussed. Other physical hazards such as mechanical, electrical, static electricity, artificial optical radiation electromagnetic fields and waves, ionizing radiation, noise and vibration will be addressed in other OSHwiki articles.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - equipment designed to be worn or held by the worker to protect him against one or more hazards likely to endanger his safety and health at work, and any addition or accessory designed to meet this objective. A number of items are excluded from the definition, such as ordinary working clothes and uniforms not specifically designed to protect the safety and health of the worker, equipment used by emergency and rescue services, personal protective equipment worn or used by the military, the police, self-defense or deterrent equipment.PPE .
Protective Clothing is a kind of Personal Protective Equipment. Protective clothing means all clothing (including clothing protecting against rain) which is intended to be worn by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health or safety. Various protective clothing will offer protection to different parts of the body e.g. lower limbs, upper limbs, torso or head.
Physical hazards refer to: artificial optical radiation, electromagnetic fields and waves, static electricity, noise, vibration, ionizing radiation, mechanical hazards, cold, heat and flames. Selected physical hazards are addressed in individual directives , , ,] that were formulated within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC .
'Heat and flame hazards: flames, infrared (thermal) radiation, molten metal splashes, hot or molten slag particles, hot metal splinters, hot objects.'
General requirements for protective clothing
Council Directive 89/656/EEC of 30 November 1989 on the minimum health and safety requirements for the use by workers of personal protective equipment at the workplace, states that personal protective equipment, including protective clothing, must be used when the risk cannot be avoided or sufficiently limited by technical means of collective protection or procedures of work organization (Towards_an_occupational_safety_and_health_culture, Occupational_safety_and_health_management_systems_and_workers’_participation, PPE)
The directive states that the employer is responsible to provide workers with PPE, including protective clothing free of charge that comply with the relevant Community provisions on design and production with respect to safety and health (basic health and safety requirements (BHSRs) of Directive 89/686/EEC ) PPE
The PPE provided by the employer must:
- be appropriate for the risks involved, without itself leading to any increased risk;
- correspond to existing conditions at the workplace;
- take into account ergonomic requirements and the worker's state of health;
- fit the user correctly after any necessary adjustment,
- be compatible with other used PPE and kept in good condition,
Workers must be consulted over PPE and provided with instruction and training on its use
Harmonised European Standards for personal protective equipment (PPE) which includes standards for protective clothing have been developed as the preferred means of demonstrating equipment conformity with basic health and safety requirements (BHSRs) of the EC Personal Protective Equipment Directive 89/686/EEC 
Only equipment which meets these BHSRs is entitled to carry the CE mark and to be sold for use in the EC. The CE marking and numbers of harmonised standards are displayed on the labelling and in “Information supplied by the manufacturer” of the protective clothing. However, use of harmonised standards is not obligatory. The manufacturer is allowed to demonstrate, in a technical file, that the protective clothing meets the BHSRs. In such cases, the protective clothing will carry the CE mark, but may not display any Standard number. The manufacturer’s information will contain the performance specification.
According to Directive 89/686/EEC, the manufacturer of protective clothing or its authorized representative is responsible for compliance of PPE products placed on the market with the provisions of this Directive and their CE marking. CE marking attests that the product conform to all the provisions of Directive 89/686/EEC , including the certification procedures
For users, it is important that they only use protective clothing that bears the CE marking at their assigned workplace.
Protective clothing bearing the CE marking should include the “Information supplied by the manufacturer” as stated in standard EN 340:2003 , harmonized with the Directive. Any labelling used in the protective clothing should be legible, visible, permanent and in the official language of the country (Member State) of destination. Labelling of any kind of protective clothing should include:
- Name and address of the manufacturer (and/or his authorized representative established in the Community), trademark,
- Product designation, trade name or other identifier,
- Pictogram with size designation (height, chest, waist), (fig. 1)
Figure1: Pictogram with size designation
Source: EN 340:2003
- Specific Standard number – if relevant
- Pictogram - for specific hazard protection, plus performance levels where applicable,
- Pictograms that inform the methods for cleaning and maintenance recommended by the manufacturer,
- Date of production
- The obsolescence deadline or period of obsolescence of PPE
- Single use protective clothing to be marked “DO NOT RE-USE”.
Labelling of different kinds of protective clothing should include additional information according to the relevant harmonized standards.
Risk assessment for the selection of protective clothin
The decision to use protective clothing as a control measure and its selection should be based on a risk assessment.
The risk assessment should identify all hazards present and provide a measure of risk. Information on the safe level of hazards should be made available. It is required to take intensity measurements of hazardous and dangerous factors present in the work environment and compare the results with the parameters (safe levels). As the safe levels are determined, it should be possible to decide on the correct protective clothing that is needed. PPE
It is required to identify persons exposed to identified hazards, determine the length of exposure, body parts that must be protected, climate conditions, additional risks not connected to the necessity of using personal protective equipment, user characteristics, working hours and other specific parameters that can adversely affect the health and well-being of an employee. Then it is required to specify in detail, the necessary level and scope of protection to be ensured by protective clothing.The selection of protective clothing with the appropriate level of protection is essential. First of all, it must be marked with the CE mark, The most important stage of selection is the choice of personal protective equipment with characteristics corresponding to actual safety hazards. For protective clothing, it is required to identify the relevant European standard and determine the performance level corresponding to the type and intensity of hazards. Effective protection of workers against hazards can be implemented only if, after the correct selection of PPE, it is properly used and maintained in good condition. Each part of protective clothing should be examined by qualified personnel before and after use. Clothing repairs should be carried out so as not to reduce the level of protection. It is recommended that materials used for repair, as well as base material, have the same properties. In the case of clothing protecting against heat and flames, improper repair may result in a higher adhesion of hot sparks, thereby increasing the possibility of ignition.
Clothing protecting against heat and flame
A great variety of heat and flame hazards, with different exposure levels and intensities, places workers in situations of risk. Among others, the following groups of workers are exposed to heat and flame hazards: employees of ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy and glassworks as well as the ceramic industry, iron and steel industry (forges, foundries), welders, etc. The correct selection of protective clothing against hazards associated with hot working places requires the determination of the relation between the intensity of the workplace-related hazard and the performance level of PPE with respect to the appropriate parameters. European Standards specify the requirements for individual parameters characterizing the performance level of protective clothing in the form of protection classes.
Parameters characterizing the resistance of protective clothing to heat and flame
The type of protective clothing to be used by employees exposed to heat and flame depends primarily on the type and intensity of these hazardous factors. The protective properties and parameters of materials used for clothing protecting against heat and flames are defined in the list below. These parameters are determined by test methods which are included in the European standards. In accordance with the applicable requirements of the European standards, each parameter is related to a relevant letter code.
Limited flame spread (code letter A1 and/or A2) — Clothing product deemed to satisfy the requirements of European standards harmonized with Directive 89/686/EEC  if burning for all materials and accessories is not sustained for more than 2 s after deduction of flame.
Clothing may be labelled with letter code A1 (applying the flame on the surface of the material), A2 (applying the flame on the edge of sample material), or A1 + A2.
Clothing material resistance to convective heat transfer from the flame (code letter B).
Clothing material resistance to radiant heat (code letter C).
Clothing material resistance to molten metal splash is defined by the following code letters depending on the metal:
D - clothing material resistance to molten aluminium,
E - clothing material resistance to molten iron.
Resistance to contact heat (code letter F).
The protective parameters mentioned above are determined before and after the number of cycles of conservation (i.e. washing, cleaning, and ironing), which are specified by the manufacturer.
Labelling of protective clothing and Information supplied by its manufacturer should include:
- Maximum allowable number of cycles of conservation
- Relevant letter codes marked next to the number of standard defining the requirements for protective clothing.
Requirements for protective clothing against heat and flame in accordance with European standards
Heat and flame protective suits shall completely cover the upper and lower torso, neck, arms and legs. Suits shall consist of:
- a single garment, e.g. an overall or boiler suit or
- a two-piece garment, consisting of a jacket and a pair of trousers.
Jackets shall be of sufficient length to overlap by a minimum of 20 cm with the top of the trousers. This minimum overlap shall be maintained in all positions and in movements expected during use. Heat and flame protective clothing other than suits may be designed to provide protection for specific parts of the body, e.g. neck curtain, hoods, sleeves, apron and gaiters. They are typically designed to be worn in addition to a suit. Hardware penetrating the outer material of a heat and flame protective clothing or clothing assembly shall not be exposed to the innermost surface of the clothing or the clothing assembly. Clothing that provides protection against molten metal should have a structure that will not retain molten metal on its surface.
Protective clothing against accidental and short contact with small flame
In the case of accidental contact with flame, when there is no risk of a worker's exposure to other types of heat and flame, clothing should meet the requirements of EN ISO 14116 . It presents three indices (levels) of flame spread, depending on behaviour of materials or clothing during tests for resistance to burning. Index 3 characterizes clothing with the highest protection level, whereas index 1 characterizes clothing and materials with the lowest protection level that cannot be used as an inner layer.
Flame spread index should be determined by the number of maintenance cycles specified by the manufacturer. Important notice for the user: this results in the relevant number of maintenance cycles specified on the label.
For clothing that meets the requirements of EN ISO 14116 , the manner of maintenance is determined by an appropriate maintenance index:
• H - if home laundering is recommended
• I - if industrial laundering is recommended
• C — if dry cleaning is recommended
Protective clothing that meets the requirements of PN-EN ISO 14116  is determined by the relevant final index (flame spread index/maintenance index) indicating the achieved level of resistance to burning
(limited flame spread), along with the aforementioned labelling of maintenance method.
Examples of clothing labels:
3/30H/60 - indicates that the clothing has a flame spread index of 3 after 30 home laundering cycles at 60°C,
2/50C/P - indicates that the clothing has a flame spread index of 2 after 50 dry cleaning cycles in perchloroethylene,
2/0/0 - indicates that the clothing has a flame spread index of 2 and is not intended for laundering or dry cleaning. It could be clothing made from aluminised materials or leather.
The method illustrated above applies to labelling of single-layer clothing. For clothing made from multilayer combination of materials or multilayer material, limited flame spread index/maintenance index refers both to the outer and inner material. In addition, labels should indicate materials that have a flame spread index of 1, because these materials cannot come into close contact with skin.
Protective clothing against accidental and short contact with small flame and other heat and flame factors
In the case of demand for protection not only against flame, but also against other heat and flame factors such as convective heat, radiant heat, molten metal splash, contact heat or a combination of these factors, protective clothing should meet the requirements of EN ISO 11612:2008 . The standard includes the requirements for clothing, uniforms, hoods and socks. The resistance of clothing to each kind of factor is determined by a letter code, as stated in section 5.1 and the performance level specified next to the letter code. Higher level of efficiency indicates a higher protection level of the product. Protective clothing against heat and flames should be made from materials and accessories with a limited flame spread, which is expressed by the following codes: A1, A2 or A1 + A2.
All materials and accessories used in protective clothing should be characterized by resistance to a maximum temperature of 180°C. Optionally, tests can be carried out at 260°C, and information about resistance to this temperature should be specified in the instruction manual.
Clothing and clothing systems that are designed to protect against convective heat must have a minimum performance level of B1. Higher levels of protection are ensured by products labelled with B2 and B3 respectively.
Clothing and/or combinations of clothing which are designed to protect against radiant heat must have a minimum performance level of C1. Higher levels of protection are indicated with C2, C3 and C4 respectively.
Clothing and/or combinations of clothing that are designed to protect against molten aluminium splash must have a minimum performance level of D1. Higher levels of protection are ensured by products labelled with D2 and D3 respectively.
Clothing and/or combinations of clothing that are designed to protect against molten iron splash should have a minimum performance level of E1. Higher levels of protection are ensured by products labelled with E2 and E3 respectively.
The performance levels of clothing that protect against other metals splash should be presented in a similar way.
Clothing and/or combinations of clothing which are designed to protect against heat transmitted by contact with hot surfaces or objects should have a minimum performance level of F1. Higher levels of protection are provided by products labelled with F2 and F3 respectively.
Figure 2: Example of label on protective clothing against heat and flames in accordance with EN ISO 11612:2008 
Source: By the author
Examples of clothing designed to protect against heat and flame
Protective properties of clothing designed to protect against heat and flame are obtained with the use of single materials or, when the risk is greater, multilayer materials or combinations of materials.
If at a low level of radiant heat and temperature below 50°C there is a risk of clothing ignition, it is possible to use fabrics made from aramid fibre (e.g. Nomex®), or fabrics chemically modified, e.g. flame resistant cotton or wool (treated with Pyrovatex® or Proban® technology).
In workplaces with higher level of radiant heat (up to 20 kW/m2), it is advisable to use clothing made from aluminised materials, which reflect infrared radiation (heat). In workplaces with radiation intensity higher than 20 kW/m2, it is advisable to use multilayer clothing materials or material combinations, such as:
- outer layer — aluminised glass fibre,
- aramid fibre, cotton or incombustible viscose,
- inner layer — wool or incombustible cotton.
Design of this type of clothing is tailored to risks and working conditions - aprons, head and neck protection or suits and coats (figure 3)
Figure 3: Clothing with an outer layer of aluminised glass fibre
Source: By Jarosław Dąbkiewicz .
Selection of protective clothing to the level of risks in hot workplaces - rules of application
After listing the hazards, it is necessary to assess risks resulting from employee exposure to heat and flames. Based on the risk assessment, the selection of protective clothing with the appropriate level of protection for workplaces with heat and flames should be carried out. It is required to take measurements of intensity of hazardous and dangerous factors present in the work environment and compare the results with the parameters. Indicators that repeatedly exceed the parameters will facilitate the selection of the right PPE level. It is necessary to specify in detail the level and scope of protection to be ensured by protective clothing (e.g. type of risk: molten iron splash — possible exposure to approx. 200 g), or in general (high, medium or low risk level). Table 1 presents an example of protective clothing selection in terms of risk level at hot workplaces.
Table 1: Examples of protective clothing selection in terms of risk level at hot workplaces
|Hazard||Example of hazard||Suggested protective clothing, gloves and footwear|
|Low level risk : Localized exposure to heat and/or flame|
|Small flames – accidental contact||Laboratory coat in contact with flame of a Bunsen burner||Clothing that conforms to EN 14116|
|Larger flames and convective heat||Working near a small fire (e.g. in a production process)||Clothing that conforms to EN ISO 11612 levels A, B1 and C1|
|Radiant heat||Working near a furnace in a production process||Clothing that conforms to EN ISO 11612 A and C: from level C1 depending on the radiant heat level|
|Clothing ignition||Clothing worn over protective clothing against heat and flames, offering other types of protection such as against adverse weather or low visibility||Clothing that conforms to 14116,|
|Sparks and small molten metal drops||Aluminum and iron foundry work||Clothing that conforms to EN ISO 11612 levels A, D1 and E1,
|Medium level risk : Exposure to high levels of heat and/ or flame|
|Radiant heat||a. Working close to furnaces
b. Heat treatment
|a. Clothing that conforms to EN ISO 11612 levels A, B2 and C2,
b. Clothing that conforms to EN ISO 11612 levels A, B1, C3 E1,
|Radiant heat and occasional flame||Inside kilns||Clothing that conforms to EN ISO 11612 levels A, B2 and C2|
|High level risk: Potential exposure to levels of heat and/ or flame and large splashes of molten metal|
|Intense heat and flame and large splashes of molten metal||a. Smelters
b. Molder, core maker, shaking
|a. Clothing that conforms to EN ISO 11612 levels: A, B2, C2, E3,
b. Clothing that conforms to EN ISO 11612 levels; A, B2, C1, E3
Clothing protecting against rain, cool environments and cold
Definitions - Parameters characterizing environment and clothing protecting against cold
Cool environment Environment characterized in general as a possible combination of humidity and wind at temperatures of (-5)˚C and higher (according to EN 14058:2004 ).
Cold environment Environment characterized by a combination of humidity and wind at air temperature below (-5)˚C (according to EN 342:2004/AC:2008 )
Thermal resistance (insulation) of material Rct
Temperature difference between the two faces of a material divided by the resultant heat flux per unit area in the direction of the gradient. The value is given in [m2 K/W].The dry heat flux may consist of one or more conductive, convective and radiant components.
Thermal resistance Rct is a quantity specific to textile materials or composites which determine the dry heat flux across a given area in response to a steady applied temperature gradient (according to EN 14058:2004 ).
Water vapour resistance Ret
The difference of water vapour pressure between the two faces of a material divided by the resultant evaporative heat flux per unit area in the direction of the gradient. The evaporative heat flux may consist of both diffusive and convective components. The value is given in [m2 Pa/W] (EN 14058:2004 ).
Effective thermal insulation Icle Thermal insulation from skin to outer clothing surface under defined conditions is measured with a stationary manikin. The effective thermal insulation value Icle is determined in relation to the exposed body surface area. The value is given in [m2 K/W] (EN 14058:2004 ).
Resultant effective thermal clothing insulation Icler Thermal insulation from skin to outer clothing surface under defined conditions measured with or calculated for a moving manikin. The effective thermal insulation value Icle is determined in relation to the exposed body surface area. The value is given in [m2 K/W] (EN 14058:2004 ).
Insulation required IREQ The required resultant thermal insulation calculated on the basis of the thermal parameters of the environment (e.g. air temperature, mean radiant temperature, air velocity, relative humidity) and body metabolism (EN 14058:2004 ).
General requirements for clothing protecting against rain, cool environments and cold
Work stands Work in cold environments mainly challenges people working in transport, trucking, municipal services, emergency services, police service, construction, forestry, electric power distribution and the food industry. In particular, it concerns processing meat and seafood, vegetables, milk, ice-cream, cheese, including production, preservation and storing in cold stores and freezing tunnels. Exposure to cold is the biggest problem for people working in an open space due to the following factors: air temperature, air movement (wind speed), humidity (wetness) and precipitation. In order to provide thermal balance and thermal comfort, users need to have the proper insulation (protective clothing), physical activity (increasing heat production) and to control their exposure to cold (work/rest schedule). According to the report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, there is an exponential increase of cold and freezing work environments, especially in the food and transportation industries .
Clothing for cold environments usually comprise of a set of components that can be combined as needed. This is mostly produced as two-piece or one-piece clothing (coveralls), which may be completed with a vest or lining. The main parameter determining the classification of clothing that protects against cold is its thermal 'insulation', i.e. thermal resistance to heat transfer. Thermal insulation should be appropriately selected to the corresponding conditions, mainly environmental temperature and user activity. Due to fact that wind significantly increases heat loss from the body , clothing material dedicated for use in an open space should have low air permeability. Additionally, clothing for work in cold environments should be made of flexible textile materials instead of rigid ones, to be well and easily fitted to the user. Loosely fitting clothing causes chimney currents, which increase the heat exchange with the environment and cools the body. Tight clothing hinders the blood flow and can also lead to a cooling effect. To ensure human thermal comfort in cold environments, it is essential to keep clothing dry. Wet clothing creates a feeling of cold and discomfort as the insulation value of wet clothing decreases dramatically in relation to dry clothing. For that reason, clothing used in an open space should be resistant to water penetration and at the same time, water vapour permeable (breathable), which means a low water vapour resistance Ret [m2Pa/W] to allow the moisture from the body to be transferred outside the clothing. To obtain a better result in keeping skin and clothing dry, it is advisable to apply the undergarment layer that “wicks" moisture away. On the market there are materials with membranes that act as a barrier to water and wind and have good properties of water vapour permeability. However; during long term work in cold environment when the user performs intensive activities and sweats, such material sometimes is not effective enough. The construction of clothing should then help remove the excessive heat and moisture to the environment. Clothing with regulated ventilation holes is very practical. Outer jackets should have the means for closing off and opening at the waist, neck and wrists. To prevent excessive sweating during strenuous activities, some jackets have netted pockets and vents around the torso and under the arm pits with zippers or Velcro fasteners for additional ventilation possibilities. When clothing is used indoors, there are no requirements for them to be made out of waterproof materials, which significantly improves the physiological comfort of the user.
Clothing protecting against rain
Requirements for materials and garments protecting against precipitation (like rain, snowflakes), fog and ground humidity are expressed in the harmonized standard EN 343:2003+A1:2007/AC:2009 (Protective clothing – Protection against rain) . This standard and protection is often an additional feature of clothing protecting against cool environments or cold. The basic tested parameters are resistance to water penetration and water vapour resistance. Labelling and care instruction should include a pictogram indicating resistance to water penetration  followed by the number of the last version of the standard EN 343 and the relevant classes of protection (resistance to water penetration and water vapour resistance).If the water vapour resistance class is equal to 1, labelling should include the warning “Restricted wearing time” .
Figure 4: Pictogram indicating protection against adverse weather
Source: EN 343:2003+A1:2007/AC:2009
Clothing protecting against cool environments
For work at temperatures of (-5)°C and higher, clothing that meets the requirements of the standard EN 14058:2004 may be used . This protective clothing, due to the low level of risk, is considered to be category I personal protective equipment (PPE) #Link to OSHwiki article: PPE (RO_11_06_2)#. According to the standard EN 14058:2004  requirements for thermal resistance of materials Rct for protective clothing are given in three classes, as shown in Table 2. The minimum requirement for thermal resistance is Rct = 0.06 [m2 K/W] (measured on the "skin model") that corresponds to first class protection.
Table 2: Obligatory requirements for thermal resistance Rct, of material for clothing dedicated for use at temperatures of (-5)˚C and higher, according to EN 14058:2007
|Thermal resistance Rct
|Standard number with testing method|
|1||0.06 < Rct < 0,12||PN-EN 31092:1998/Ap1:2004|
|2||0.12 < Rct < 0,18|
|3||0.18 < Rct < 0,25|
Optionally, when selecting clothing for cool environments, the user may use the guidelines from Annex B of the standard EN 14058:2004  on recommended effective thermal insulation Icle (measured with a stationary manikin) or resultant effective insulation of clothing Icler (measured with a moving manikin). This is in relation to ambient temperature, different activity levels (metabolic heat production) and duration of exposure to cold. All these parameters influence the protective value of the clothing. As an example, the minimum value of effective thermal insulation is Icle =0.17 [m2×K/W] for a person standing eight hours in an ambient temperature of 19°C or one hour in 11°C. The minimum value of resultant effective thermal insulation is Icler=0,17 [m2×K/W] for a person performing medium activity of170 [m2·K/W] for eight hours in 0°C or one hour in (-9)°C.
Table 3: (OPTIONAL) Guidelines for the selection of clothing based on its effective thermal insulation Icle and ambient temperature condition in ˚C ˚for heat balance at different durations of exposure acc. to EN 14058:2007 .
|Effective insulation Icle [m2 K/W]||User standing activity 75 W/m2 in work time|
Table 4: Guidelines for the selection of clothing based on resultant effective thermal insulation Icler and ambient temperature conditions in ˚C for heat balance at different activity levels and durations of exposure .
|Resultant effective insulation Icler [m2 K/W]||Light user activity
|Medium user activity
The values in tables 3 and 4 are based on the conditions that relative humidity is about 50%, air velocity between 0.3 [m/s] and 0.5 [m/s] and walking speed of the user at about 1.0 [m/s]. The standard defines a clothing ensemble as clothing consisting of a two-piece suit (coverall) or a number of garments covering the body, except head, hands and feet.
Marking and labelling garment besides the general information (mentioned in section 3) should include a pictogram indicating protection against cool environments with the number of standard EN 14058 and added performance levels: obligatory thermal resistance class' and optionally air permeability class, water penetration resistance class, insulation value 'Icler or insulation value Icle as presented on the picture below.
Figure 5: Pictogram indicating protection against cold
X - indicates that the garment has not been submitted to testing
Clothing protecting against cold
For work at air temperature below (-5)˚C, clothing protecting against cold must be used. Requirements for such clothing are formulated in the harmonized standard EN 342:2004/AC:2008 Protective clothing – Ensembles and garments for protection against cold . This garment may consist of clothing ensembles like two piece suits, overalls or single garments. According to the standard for this kind of clothing, the measurement of thermal insulation with a thermal manikin is indispensable. In annex B, the standard presents requirements for thermal insulation of clothing in relation to its conditions e.g. user activity, duration of user exposure to cold and value of ambient temperature.
For clothing protecting against cold, a minimum value of the resultant effective thermal insulation is Icler = 0,310 [m2K/W] (measured on a moving manikin). In tables 5 and 6, according to standard EN 342:2004/AC:2008  such as with the case of standard EN 14058 , there are requirements for effective thermal insulation Icle (measured with a stationary manikin) in the case of a standing user or resultant effective thermal insulation of clothing Icler (measured with a moving manikin) in the case of light and medium user activity. Thermal insulation of clothing is measured on a manikin with relevant undergarment, headwear, gloves and shoes. All these values of thermal insulation of clothing correspond to ambient temperature and duration of exposure to cold. In conditions specified in Table 5 and Table 6, the user dressed in clothing of required thermal insulation should be in thermal comfort, providing he is dressed in headwear, gloves and shoes.
It is possible that the mentioned insulation is not sufficient to protect the user against cold, especially when the user does not wear sufficient clothing under the jacket or headwear, gloves and shoes.
Table 5: Requirements for effective thermal insulation of clothing Icle in relation to ambient temperature conditions for heat balance at different durations of human exposure to cold according to PN EN 342 
Effective thermal insulation Icle [m2∙K/W]
User standing activity [75 W/m2]
|8 h||1 h|
Table 6: Requirements for resultant effective thermal insulation of clothing Icler in relation to ambient temperature conditions for heat balance at different activity levels and duration of exposure to cold acc. to EN 342 .
|Resultant effective thermal insulation Icler [m2 K/W]||
Light wearer activity
Medium wearer activity
|8 h||1 h||8 h||1 h|
These temperature values are only valid with even distribution of insulation on the body and with adequate gloves, footwear and headwear and an air velocity between 0.3 m/s and 0.5 m/s, and a relative humidity of about 50%. Tables 4 and 5 includes five values of clothing insulation with reference to the lowest temperature, at which a user can spend a long time (8 h) or short time (1 h) performing different levels of activity resulting in an acceptable level of body cooling. Furthermore, clothing protecting against cold should meet the requirements in the scope of the air permeability AP [mm/s] and optional water penetration WP [Pa]. The standard specifies three classes of air permeability. The best is class 3 (AP ≤ 5 mm/s) tha means that the material protects against wind. For resistance to water penetration there are two classes of protection:
- class 1: 8 000 ≤ WP ≤ 13 000
- class 2: WP ≥ 13 000
If clothing provides protection against water, then the water vapour resistance Ret of the combination of all layers of clothing together should be less than 55 [m2Pa/W].
Marking and labelling clothing besides the general information (mentioned in section 3) should include a pictogram indicating protection against cold with the number of standard EN 342:2004/AC:2008 and added performance levels: obligatory resultant effective insulation Icler [m2 K/W], air permeability class, and optionally resistance to water penetration class, as presented on the picture below. In marking and labelling information on thermal insulation of protective clothing, the ensemble shall be marked with specification on what kind of reference underwear was used during the tests on the manikin. The reference underwear is specified in Annex A of standard EN 342:2004/AC:2008  which specifies three sets of reference underwear that may optionally be used for the tests:
- designated B - provided by the laboratory performing the tests. It includes undershirt with long sleeves, long underpants, socks (up to the knee), bootee, thermojacket, thermopants, knitted gloves, balaclava, Annex A of standard EN 342:2004/AC:2008  specifies its thermal resistance Rct [m2K/W] (measured on the skin model)
- designated C - specified and provided by the manufacturer.
- designated R - provided by the laboratory performing the tests. It includes the same components as underwear B but with different thermal resistance. Reference underwear R is used in case of tests of individual component of the clothing ensemble for use in cold environments.
Figure 6: Pictogram indicating protection against cold
- Council Directive 89/686/EEC of 21 December 1989 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to personal protective equipment OJ L 399, 30.12.1989, pp. 18–38. Available at:http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31989L0686:EN:HTML
- Directive 2004/40/EC - electromagnetic fields and waves -of 29 April 2004 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of the workers to risks arising from electromagnetic fields and waves (18th individual directive within the meaning of Art. 16(1) of directive 89/391/EEC). Available at: http://osha.europa.eu/pl/legislation/directives/exposure-to-physical-hazards/osh-directives/directive-2004-40-ec-of-the-european-parliament-and-of-the-council
- Directive 2003/10/EC – noise- of 6 February 2003 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (noise) (Seventeenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC), Available at: http://osha.europa.eu/pl/legislation/directives/exposure-to-physical-hazards/osh-directives/82
- ] Directive 2002/44/EC – vibration-of the of 25 June 2002 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (vibration) (sixteenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC), Available at: http://osha.europa.eu/pl/legislation/directives/exposure-to-physical-hazards/osh-directives/19
- Directive 96/29/Euratom - ionizing radiation - of 13 May 1996 laying down basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionizing radiation. Available at: http://osha.europa.eu/pl/legislation/directives/exposure-to-physical-hazards/osh-directives/73
- Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work. Available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31989L0391:EN:NOT
- Council Directive of 30 November 1989 on the minimum health and safety requirements for the use by workers of personal protective equipment at the workplace (third individual directive within the meaning of Article 16 (1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) (89/656/EEC). Available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:01989L0656-20070627:EN:NOT
- EN 340:2003 Protective clothing – General reqirements
- EU-OSHA - European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2009). Risk Assessment. Retrieved 29 October 2012, from: http://osha.europa.eu/en/topics/riskassessment,
- EN ISO 14116:2008: Protective clothing - Protection against heat and flame - Limited flame spread materials, material assemblies and clothing
- EN ISO 11612:2008: Protective clothing - Clothing to protect against heat and flame
- EN 14058:2004 – Protective clothing - Garments for protection against cool environments.
- EN 342:2004/AC:2008 Protective clothing – Ensembles and garments for protection against cold.
- Report of European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Expert forecast on emerging physical risks related to occupational safety and health, (there is the exponential increase of cold and freezing work environments, especially in the food and transportation sectors). Available at: http://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/6805478.
- EN 343:2003+A1:2007/AC:2009 Protective clothing – Protection against rain
Links for further reading
- Koradecka D., Handbook of Occupational Safety and Health, CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group, Boca Raton.
- A short guide to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 Leaflet INDG174(rev1) HSE Books 2005 (single copy free or priced packs of 15 ISBN 978 0 7176 6141 1), Available at: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg174.pdf.
- Heat stress in the workplace. What you need to know as an employer
HSE information sheet. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/geis1.pdf
- Guide on Cold environments, Working in cold, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, Available at:
- NIOSH – National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Retrieved on 22 June, 2012. Available at:
- UE -OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Report – Gender issues in safety and health at work, 2003, Retrieved on 22 June, 2012, Available at:
- UE -OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Report – Emergency services: occupational safety and health risks, Available at:
- Report of European Agency for Safety and Health at Work “Expert forecast on emerging physical risks related to occupational safety and health”, Available at:
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, Available at: