The Source - Summer 2010 - (Page 30)
primary protective garment
By Brenda Stinson
ime saves lives. In terms of natural gas safety, everything can come down to just seconds. Picture this: An employee is working when a wrench slips from his hand, hits the gas line, creates a spark and causes an explosion. There are just seconds to determine whether he goes home after work or ends up in a burn unit.
That is what developing a protective garment all is about. The success or failure of a safety program—and of a primary protective garment—is based on one second. This must be kept in mind when considering and purchasing protective garments for you and your employees. Designing a primary protective garment can be a long, involved process. The Silver Needle flash suit, for example, took four years of constant development. Silver Needle had three objectives: to be as close as possible to zero burns in four seconds, to be able to work in the garment and to have built-in retrieval capabilities. First, they had to find the right fabrics.
Selecting fabrics All fabrics are manikin tested according to the 2112 standard for flame-resistant garments for protection of industrial personnel against flash fire. They are offered to the clothing manufacture, where the manufacture creates and is able to offer the end user with two types of clothing: Secondary (i.e., shirts and pants) and primary protective clothing (flash fire suits and L&G clothing). Primary protection begins with the outer shell or sacrificial layer. It has to be chosen with the following criteria: • Durable and washable. • Able to take the brunt of the flash, absorbing as much of energy as possible. • Have a residual layer left after the flash to offer protection. • Light, but offer as much protection as possible based on manikin testing. • Have a washable, light insulating layer that meets the user’s needs. • The combination of fabrics must be put together in panels and sent for testing—typically requiring 25 panels and costing around $4,000. There are many levels of primary protection and the user sets the parameters required. In some cases,
single layer protection is all that is needed. Again, time is of the essence— longer protection will alleviate the trauma caused by fire. The ability to design and create a garment that gives users time to resist the heat of a fire is a challenge for apparel manufacturers. Installing a comfortable internal retrieval system that does not injure the user is equally as important. Testing the product First, a proto-type is built and sent for testing. This garment will go back and forth until the final product is developed. Three garments are then built, washed five times and sent for manikin testing. Hot spots are located; and sleeve seal, leg seals and closure seals are corrected for any failures. The final garment is made and re-tested. In the case of Silver Needle’s flash suit, retrieval testing showed that it took eight seconds, rather than four, to get the user out of danger. Meeting this new objective required a new insulating fabric complete with re-testing, but the concept and usability of the garment eventually was a success. Brenda Stinson is president and co-owner of Silver Needle, Inc.
30 THE SOURCE | THE VOICE AND CHOICE OF PUBLIC GAS
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Source - Summer 2010
The Source - Summer 2010
Q&A: 10 Questions for Bill Cantrell
Engaging Customers in the Communication Age
Living Proof: APGA Member Case Studies Demonstrate Valuable Marketing Techniques
Moving On Up: Preparing for an IT Change
National Accounts: What They Mean to the Natural Gas Industry
Planning Essential for a Smooth Software Transition
Housing for Elderly Gets New Lease on Life
Developing a Primary Protective Garment
The Source - Summer 2010