Embarrassment of Euro PPE protocols: inconsistencies leading to a broad interpretation of the Standard prEN469 prompted its withdrawal at a meeting of the European CEN Technical Committee late last year. So how are test procedures developed and what can be done to eliminate similar discrepancies?(PPE Standards)

Following the extensive trials carried out for Bristol Uniforms in late 2003, it became apparent that the proposed exercise protocols in the draft of prEN469:2002 were too severe. Questions are now being asked about the way in which test procedures are developed and what lessons can be learned from these recent experiences.

Dave Matthews, Convertor of WG2 of CN/EN469, commenting on the fears raised by the trials, said: "The proposed Annexe E (which was embodied in the 1995 standard and was up for ratification in the new protocol) involved activities which contravened the Helsinki protocol which governs the conduct of trials using human beings."

The report on the exercise protocols by Human Vertex Ltd, who conducted the Bristol heat stress trials on a variety of new PPE fire kit constructions, has clearly identified that even eminent doctors can get it wrong when international exercise protocols are arrived at by round table discussion without the rigour of practical suitability testing.

The problem first came to light when the baseline treadmill exercise was conducted on volunteer firefighters at the heat stress trials being conducted in the environmental chamber at Birmingham University's School of Sport and Exercise Sciences. …

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