cold weather workThe International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) has published a new industry standard on insulating apparel to assist workers in cold temperature working environments.

The American National Standard for Classification of Insulating Apparel Used in Cold Work Environments (ANSI/ISEA 201-2012) provides a means for a garment to be classified based on its material’s ability to keep workers warm in low temperatures and to retain such protection throughout its expected life.

Manufacturers will test a garment’s insulating value after a specified number of washing or dry cleaning cycles, and assign a thermal performance category based on the results. The intrinsic insulating value is expressed in clo. One clo is the insulation needed to maintain body temperature for a person seated in a 70-degree F room, roughly equivalent to a business suit.

The thermal performance category and corresponding temperature range will be displayed on the garment’s label, along with a durability classification to show how many laundering cycles were performed before testing. These figures are designed to inform the user how the garment will perform at various levels of exertion, and how it is expected retain its insulating properties over time.

Also in the standard are guidelines for selection of thermal insulating apparel, to give specifiers, purchasers and users a way to evaluate garments based on environmental conditions, work being performed and other factors such as the need for dexterity and mobility.
“When you’re operating in extreme cold conditions, it’s a challenge to find apparel that will keep workers comfortable and still allow them to do their jobs,” said ISEA director of member and technical services Cristine Fargo. “This standard provides an objective way to measure and show insulating performance, and gives users an important tool for selecting the right garment.”
The standard was developed by ISEA’s Protective Apparel Group and was approved by key stakeholders representing testing laboratories, product suppliers, users, university researchers and government agencies. It is recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as an American National Standard.

American National Standard for Classification of Insulating Apparel Used in Cold Work Environments (ANSI/ISEA 201-2012) can be purchased from ISEA for $30 a copy; discounts are available on bulk orders. For more information, contact Cristine Z. Fargo, ISEA director of member and technical services,, or visit