UNI EN 342
Protective clothing against cold and cold storage
The UNI EN 342:2018 standard specifies the requirements and test methods valid for clothing and coverall for protection against the effects of environments colder than -5°C. In particular for external temperatures ranging from 2°C to -5°C, cold store temperature (-25C°) up to the freezer temperatures (-40C°). This standard estimates the following values: air permeability class, thermal insulation and breathability level. These effects include not only low air temperatures, but also humidity and air velocity.
Protection from the risks related to severe cold
The most common health and safety hazards for those who work in extremely cold environments, such as cold storage, are mainly frostbite and hypothermia, but also cold stress, the risk of slips and falls and the danger of poor visibility.
Frostbite is tissue damage that occurs when exposed to extreme cold conditions for a prolonged time. It can be divided into three degrees depending on the severity of the condition which can also involve muscles, tendons, blood vessels and nerves.
Hypothermia is a decrease in body temperature below 35°C. This situation occurs in very cold places in conditions where the body loses heat faster than it can produce.
The cold is experienced by our body as a stress. Cold stress is certainly not to be underestimated as it can lead to an increase in heart and respiratory rate and blood pressure.
In operations where visibility is low (e.g. in outdoor operations during heavy snowfalls), it is crucial to use clothing fitted with reflective bands to avoid dangerous accidents.
Those who work in such conditions must also pay particular attention to slips or falls to avoid consequent injuries.
Protective clothing produced according to the UNI EN 342:2018 standard has as its field of application:
- Cold storage;
- Refrigerated trucks;
- Refrigerated warehouses;
- Food industry;
- Work executed in extremely cold conditions such as high-altitude areas in the mountain or Arctic operations.
A garment, to be considered adequate to face extreme cold conditions and be certified with the UNI EN 342:2018 standard, must have specific characteristics, such as:
- Provide thermal insulation;
- Be waterproof;
- Be breathable;
- Having a sturdy fabric, keeping the garment light;
- Ensure hermetic sea;
- It must be close-fitting to the body, including sleeves and ankles;
- Jackets and coveralls must have a high collar;
- It must be equipped with reflective bands;
- The fabric must be made with a high percentage of synthetic fibres;
More on the EN 342 standard
The UNI EN 342:2018 standard specifies the test methods for safety clothing for protection against cold. These tests are mainly four and define:
- The degree of thermal insulation, garments are tested on a moving mannequin with standard or certified underwear. The result is expressed in Icler units and measures the amount of energy per square meter required to maintain heat: the higher the number, the better the evaluation;
- Air permeability measures the windproof characteristic of the garment and is divided into three levels. Value 1 indicates the greatest air passage, the value 3, on the contrary, is the best protection against the wind;
- Resistance to water and water vapour penetration is the degree of breathability of the garment and has three levels of resistance in which level 3 is the best performing.
Compared to weather protective clothing, cold protective clothing has a much better thermal insulation, obtained by generally using multi-layered, padded and quilted fabrics made of preferably synthetic fibres.
How to wash cold protective clothing
Garments suitable for protection from the cold must be washed by observing some precautions. Washing can damage the fabric, thus diminishing its protective capacity. By observing these simple rules, cold weather clothing will be able to keep intact its unique characteristics.
- Maximum temperature 30°C
- Do not use chlorine
- Do not steam treat
- Do not remove stains with solvents
- Do not dry clean
- Do not spend a lot of time drying
- Do not tumble dry
See the catalogue of Cold Storage Workwear.