UNI EN 342
Protective Clothing for Cold Environments and Cold Storage
The UNI EN 342:2018 standard outlines the requirements and testing methods applicable to clothing and coveralls designed to safeguard against the impacts of environments with temperatures below -5°C. This pertains specifically to external temperatures ranging from 2°C to -5°C, cold storage conditions (-25°C), and even freezer temperatures (-40°C). This standard assesses the following parameters: air permeability class, thermal insulation, and breathability level. These factors encompass not only low air temperatures but also humidity and air velocity.
Protection from Cold-Related Risks
The most prevalent health and safety risks for individuals working in intensely cold environments, such as cold storage facilities, primarily include frostbite and hypothermia. Additional concerns encompass cold stress, the potential for slips and falls, and reduced visibility.
Frostbite involves damage to tissues when exposed to extreme frigid conditions for extended periods. It can be categorised into three degrees of severity, potentially affecting muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves.
Hypothermia is characterised by a drop in body temperature below 35°C. This situation arises in extremely cold settings where the body loses heat more rapidly than it can generate it.
The body interprets cold as a form of stress. Cold stress should not be underestimated, as it can result in elevated heart and respiratory rates, along with increased blood pressure.
In situations with limited visibility (e.g., outdoor activities during heavy snowfall), it is essential to wear clothing with reflective bands to prevent hazardous accidents.
Those working in such conditions must also exercise caution to prevent slips and falls, thereby averting potential injuries.
Protective clothing manufactured in accordance with the UNI EN 342:2018 standard is applicable in the following scenarios:
- Cold storage facilities
- Refrigerated trucks
- Refrigerated warehouses
- The food industry
- Work performed in extremely cold conditions, such as high-altitude mountain areas or Arctic operations
To be certified according to the UNI EN 342:2018 standard and deemed suitable for extreme frigid conditions, a garment must possess specific characteristics:
- Provide thermal insulation.
- Be waterproof.
- Be breathable.
- Utilise robust yet lightweight materials.
- Ensure airtight seals.
- Fit snugly to the body, including sleeves and ankles.
- Feature high collars for jackets and coveralls.
- Be equipped with reflective bands.
- Utilise a fabric with a high proportion of synthetic fibres.
Additional Information on EN 342 Standard
The UNI EN 342:2018 standard specifies the testing methods for protective clothing against frigid conditions. These tests primarily comprise four aspects, which define:
- Thermal insulation level: Garments are evaluated using a moving mannequin wearing standard or certified undergarments. The results are expressed in Icler units, measuring the energy per square metre required to maintain warmth. A higher number indicates better insulation.
- Air permeability: This assesses the windproof characteristics of the garment and is categorised into three levels. Level 1 indicates the highest air permeability, while level 3 offers the best protection against the wind.
- Resistance to water and water vapour penetration: This reflects the garment’s breathability and is classified into three resistance levels, with level 3 providing the highest performance.
In contrast to weather-resistant clothing, cold-protective clothing achieves superior thermal insulation through the use of multi-layered, padded, and quilted fabrics, typically composed of synthetic fibres.
How to Launder Cold-Protective Clothing
Garments suitable for cold protection must be washed with care to avoid damaging the fabric and compromising their protective capabilities. Adhering to these simple guidelines will help maintain the unique characteristics of cold-weather clothing:
- Maximum washing temperature of 30°C.
- Do not use chlorine bleach.
- Avoid steam treatments.
- Do not use solvents to remove stains.
- Do not dry clean.
- Minimise drying time.
- Avoid tumble drying.
Refer to the Cold Storage Workwear catalogue for more options.