Thursday, August 31, 2006

Understanding Comfort Issues in High-Level Protective Apparel

Ergonomic design in protective apparel ...

"Ian Holme attended the annual Survival conference in Leeds, UK, where debate focused on testing and standards and the complete understanding of issues relating to the comfort of those wearing of high-performance protective apparel.

... Work with manikins began at Leeds University in 1988, with the construction and operation of a heated, water-filled fabric manikin to assist in studies of heat loss from clothing in cold and windy conditions. In 1995, this was re-skinned to give it the same dimensions as the manikin used at the Hohenstein Institutes, known as Charlie, in order to produce comparable data for a European project on postal delivery workers clothing.

... However, when compared with controlled human wearer trials of hard and soft shell clothing systems, human trials detected additional points of leakage, the amount and location depending on the level, amount and type of activity. This finding was reinforced by a study of water-resistant zips in garments where little or no leakage occurred in rain-room manikin trials, but considerable leakage was observed in human trials because of the flexing caused by clothing movement

Dave Brook concluded that manikin tests were a useful tool for performance clothing designers, but such tests should not be used to set standards because the data they provide are not realistic and can be dangerously misleading.

... For clothing systems to be used with body armour the complete ergonomics must be considered, Woods continued. The base layer (most important item) must have thermal wicking and breathable properties plus, where necessary, flame retardancy. Fleece needs to be compliant with the need for standalone use and as a component part of the clothing system.

The outer garment needed to be lighter and highly visible in relation to EN 471. The clothing system must also be capable of being resistant to fuel, grease, oil and diesel, as well as to contaminated blood and body fluids, it being possible to simply wipe off such liquids. The same criteria applied to public order suits.

There is a need for a garment system method that ensured that testing was conducted in use in the field or in controlled environments, namely:

* each layer needs to be tested;

* the interactivity of fabrics in the system needs testing;

* the design, construction and engineering of the systems needs testing."   (Continued via RedOrbit)   [Ergonomics Resources]

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