ISEA Seeks Public Review of New Protective Clothing Standard

The International Safety Equipment Association is soliciting public comments on a new performance standard for chemical protective clothing. Draft ANSI/ISEA 103-200x, Standard for Classification and Performance Requirements for Chemical Protective Clothing, is designed to help users select the appropriate protective apparel for a variety of chemical hazards, providing minimum performance classifications and labeling requirements.

Members of ISEA Protective Apparel Group developed this standard to present a testing philosophy based on garment category and performance level. This approach was modeled after activities ongoing within the European (CEN) and international (ISO) standards communities, and represents one of the first attempts at harmonizing testing and labeling of chemical protective clothing worldwide.

Garment categories (e.g., US Category 1, gas-tight) are defined by matching the expected chemical exposure scenario with various material swatch and finished garment item test requirements. This standard uses multiple performance levels (e.g., three levels of performance for permeation testing) for the majority of properties. This tiered performance approach will provide the end-user with a tool that helps define adequate protection by matching a unique exposure scenario to a specific garment configuration (category) and a minimum level of performance (level).

According to ISEA technical director Janice Comer Bradley, CSP, "This standard will fill a gap in that's existed since OSHA issued its regulations for personal protective equipment in 1994." OSHA requires employers to conduct documented hazard assessments in the workplace, and select personal protective equipment appropriate to the hazard. "Although OSHA provides references to performance-based standards for certain types of PPE such as eye and face protection, until now there has been no consensus standard for the majority of chemical protective clothing worn by the US workforce," Bradley said.

The ANSI/ISEA 103 standard is applicable to the vast majority of chemical protective clothing used within industry including, but not limited to, the following applications: agricultural, chemical processing, hazardous materials redemption, pharmaceutical operations, paint spraying, tank cleaning, laboratory operations, cleanroom operations, petrochemical operations, waste collection/recycling, general manufacturing, bulk chemical transfer/handling operations, general maintenance, and clean-up. It would not apply to protective clothing for hazardous materials or emergency response operations covered by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. To obtain a review copy of the draft standard contact Cristine Z. Fargo, ISEA manager of standards programs (1901 N. Moore St., Arlington, VA 22209, phone 703-525-1605). There is a $30 charge for the draft, payable by check or credit card. For more information on ISEA's standards programs, visit the association's Web site at www.safetyequipment.org.

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