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Protective Clothing

Certain work environments require higher levels of protection from hazards like rain, cold, heat, flame etc. Protective Clothing is a kind of Personal Protective Equipment, intended to be worn by a person at work and protects him/her against one or more risks to his health or safety. In this complete guide, we will explain different types of protective clothing for different work conditions. We will cover :

  • Chapter1: Who is responsible for PPE in the workplace?
  • Chapter2: Clothing Against Rain
  • Chapter3: Clothing Against Cold
  • Chapter4: Clothing For High Visibility 
  • Chapter5: Clothing Against Heat & Flame

  • Chapter 1:
    Who is responsible for PPE in the workplace?

    According to HSE.GOV.UK, every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.

    We as an employee, however, are required to take reasonable care for our own health and safety and correctly use the PPE provided by our employers in accordance with training or instructions.

    In the following chapters, we will talk about protective clothing against some common hazards, including rain/inclement weather, cold, heat and flames. In addition, the protection while work in the dark is also discussed.

    Chapter 2:
    Clothing Against Rain

    Level 1 Pliable and lightweight fabric for those with jobs that require good range of motion and ease in putting on and taking off the garments
    Browse level 1 products 
    Level 2 More durable garments with breathability for those who need to continuously work in a tougher working day
    Browse level 2 products 
    Level 3  Extremely durable fabrics with good breathability for performing tasks in very tough environments.
    Browse level 3 products 
    Table1: Just need the right clothing without understanding many numbers? Check out the Blaklader's simple rainfighter system with only 3 levels

    EN 343 - Protection Against Rain

    According to European Standard, requirements for materials and garments protecting against rain, snowflakes, fog and ground humidity are laid down in the standard EN 343.

    The standard promotes 2 values - water penetration (or waterproofness) and water vapour resistance (or breathability). According to EN 343:2019, the latest version of the standard, both values are assessed on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest value. For example, if a garment is rated as

      EN 343 Class 4 - 1  

  • 1st value: '4' - Waterproofness
    These figures indicate the amount of water pressure a fabric can withstand. For example, a EN 343 Class 4 garment with a 2,000mm rating can endure a 2,000mm column of water bearing down on it before it starts to leak. The larger the figure, the better it is for waterproofness.
  • 2nd value: '1' - Breathability
    The RET value is measured in m²Pa/W. The lower the RET value, the more breathable the fabric is. It indicates this is a great waterproof garment with a low level of breathability or poor body cooling.
  •   Waterproofness Breathability
    Class 1 ≥ 800 mm Ret > 40
    Class 2 ≥ 800 mm 40 > Ret > 25
    Class 3 ≥ 1300 mm 25 > Ret > 15
    Class 4 ≥ 2000 mm Ret < 15
    Table 2: The latest version of the standard are assessed on a scale of 1 to 4. The previous version had only 3 classes.


    Chapter 3:
    Clothing Against Cold

    Layer 1 Layer 2 Layer 3
    Transport moisture from the skin Insulate against cold Protect against wind, cold & rain


    3-Layer Principle

    When it comes to protecting against cold, layering is still by far the best. The largest risk of staying outdoors in cold weather is to dress incorrectly and freeze and sweat alternately. The 3-layer principle gives you the chance to regulate your body temperature by adding or removing garments as the weather or work requires.

  • Layer 1 is the foundation, by using a base layer of functional material that transports moisture from the skin to the next layer you get a good base.
  • Layer 2 helps insulate your body and maintain warmth. It’s common to choose cotton material as the middle layer since there is a belief that cotton warms the best. It heats but doesn´t remove any moisture, which makes the body cold. That’s why it´s important to choose a synthetic material that transports moisture onto the next layer.
  • Layer 3 acts as an external shield against wind, rain and cold, and helps you retain the body heat. We offer the right clothing and protection no matter if you are working in -0°C, -10°C or -20°C

  • EN 342 - Protection Against Cold

    EN 342 clothing is designed for protection in cold environments ranging from chill (-5°C) to cold store (-25°C) to deep freeze (-40°C). An EN 342 rating has 3 separate values, e.g.

      EN 342 (0.4M² K/W (B), 2, X)  

  • 1st value: 0.4M² K/W (B) - Thermal insulation
    It measures to what extent a material resists conducting heat across it. The higher the number, the better the insulation the material offers. The (B) means the garment is tested with thermal underwear.
  • 2nd value: 2 - Air permeability 
    A high air permeability rating allows for proper dry evaporative heat loss, keeping you warm and comfortable. Air permeability is rated on a scale of 1 - 3, with 3 being the highest rate of breathability
  • 3rd value: X - Water Penetration (optional)
    Resistance to water penetration is an optional addition to EN 342 garments, but it can be useful in cold and wet conditions. This is also rated on a scale between 1 and 3. If a garment has not been tested for this property it will be rated as an 'X'

  • Chapter 4:
    Clothing For High Visibility

    Class 1
    Basic Visibility
    Class 2
    High Visibility
    Class 3
    Ultimate Visibility
    Fluorescent material: 0,14 m²
    Reflective material: 0,10 m²
    Fluorescent material: 0,5 m²
    Reflective material: 0,13 m²
    Fluorescent material: 0,8 m²
    Reflective material: 0,20 m²

    3 Key Components of Hi-Vis Clothing:

  • Fluorescent material (e.g. yellow, orange or red): Boosts visibility during daylight hours and can also increase visibility at night.
  • Reflective material: Made from materials that reflect light back to where it comes from to enhance visibility during the darker hours of the day.
  • Contrast material: Blaklader adds contrast fabrics (black or other dark colours) to the areas where muck is most likely to build e.g. Knees, ankles, pockets, sleeve ends, shoulders etc. By doing that, dirt tends not to spread onto the fluorescent fabric to keep the clothing compliant for much longer on the job.

  • EN 343 - Protection Against Rain & Inclement Weather

    Protective clothing certified according to EN 471/20471 provides wearers with visibility for working in hazardous situations. The standard categorizes hi vis garments into 3 classes based on the area of fluorescent material and in combination with the reflective area and specific design requirements.

    If you need to achieve a hi vis class 3 rating, you can either wear an individual garment rated as class 3 or combine different garments to reach a class 3 rating. For example, combining a Class 2 Hi Vis Jacket with a Class 2 Hi Vis trousers can attain a Class 3 rating.

    Hi vis clothing is ideal for professionals like construction workers, road construction site workers, heavy equipment operators, road surveyors, railway workers, utility workers and airport ground crews

    Chapter 5:
    Clothing Against Heat & Flame

    EN ISO 14116 &  EN ISO 11612 - Protection Against Heat & Fire

    The EN ISO 14116 standard specifies safety apparel, materials and material compositions with limited flame spread. Workwear certified in accordance with this standard lowers the chance that the safety clothing will ignite and pose as a safety hazard for the user.

    The EN ISO 11612 standard describes clothing that is manufactured in a material designed to protect workers (except welders and firefighters) against brief contact with heat and flame. The heat can be convective, radiant, molten material, or a combination thereof. A garment is classified for the following parameters (from A1 to F3). An ISO 11612 rating is like :

      EN ISO 11612 A1, A2, B1, C1, E3, F1  

    A1 Limited flame spread - Surface flames  - 
    A1 Limited flame spread - Edge ignition  - 
    B Convective heat Scale 1-3, where 3 is the best
    C Radiant heat Scale 1-4, where 4 is the best
    D Molten aluminium splash Scale 1-3, where 3 is the best
    E Molten iron splash Scale 1-3, where 3 is the best
    F Contact Heat Scale 1-3, where 3 is the best
    Table 3: Letter codes and number codes in EN ISO 11612