A new draft standard from the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) for chemical protective clothing has begun the consensus review process, and is now available for public review and comment, according to ISEA.

Draft ANSI/ISEA 103-200x is designed to help users select the appropriate protective apparel for a variety of chemical hazards, providing minimum performance classifications and labeling requirements.

Protective clothing items covered by this standard include, but may not be limited to, totally encapsulating suits, splash suits, coveralls, jackets, pants, aprons, smocks, hoods, sleeves, and shoe and boot covers. The standard does not address gloves, boots and respiratory protective devices unless they are an integral part of the protective clothing.

"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 U.S. workforce," said Janice Comer Bradley, CSP, ISEA technical director.

Developed by members of the ISEA Protective Apparel Group, the standard presents 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, says ISEA.

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. The standard uses multiple performance levels (e.g., three levels of performance for permeation testing) for the majority of properties. Thus, the standard will provide end-users 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.