Protective clothing for welding

What is the role of EN ISO 11611 in molten metal splash protection? Learn more about protective clothing for welding and allied processes.

For many Health and Safety managers, the combination of welding activities and protective clothing is an absolute no-brainer. But are you aware of the differences between class 1 and class 2 of EN ISO 11611? And do you know what the impact is of comfort on safety?

In this page, we inform you about protective clothing for the use of welding and allied processes.

Protective clothing for welding and allied processes: aim for high protection and comfort

Protective clothing for welding is designed to protect wearers against molten metal splashes, but also protect against short contact with flame and radiant heat from an electric arc that is used for welding. On top of that, the clothing also minimizes the possibility of electrical shock by short-term contact with live electrical conductors at voltages up to approximately 100V (in normal welding conditions).

Apart from protection, comfort also plays a highly important role in this industry. You will probably recognize that protective clothing that is worn during welding activities is often not comfortable. However, protective clothing for welding that is both safe and comfortable has a truly positive influence on the overall effectiveness and happiness at the workplace. It is advised to take into consideration the following factors:

  • Weight of the fabric: for welding class 2 fabrics (EN ISO11611:2015) the market is still dominated by 100% cotton fabrics that are very heavy in weight. Nowadays, there are other fabrics available which are lighter in weight, have less shrinkage and better colour retention.
  • Moisture absorption: if breathability, sweat-uptake and release are not properly managed by the garment, employees that work in hot environments will feel wet and unpleasant in their clothing. Next to cotton, there are also cellulose-based fabrics that are designed to absorb and release sweat. Lyocell is one of those fabrics.
  • Breathability: if heat can be quickly transmitted through the material, the fabric supports high breathability levels. The weight and thickness of the fabric determines the breathability. Finely woven cloth has a higher breathability than dense woven cloth, for example.
  • Softness on the skin: the type of blend of fibres, construction and the finish of the cloth determines how the fabric feels on the skin.

The balance between protection and comfort is very important. Higher levels of protection often means more weight, but the garment has to remain comfortable enough. Constructions and fibre blends can make the difference.

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EN ISO 11611

EN ISO 11611 is the standard you need to meet for welding and allied processes specifically. How well are your workers protected? And which factors have effect on the level of protection? Read our blog about this welding standard and learn more.

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What is EN ISO 11611?

EN ISO 11611, or ‘NEN-EN-ISO 11611:2015’ is the current standard which specifies minimum basic safety requirements for protective clothing for welding and allied processes. This international standard does not cover the requirements for feet, hands, face or eyes, so take into consideration that proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed to ensure overall protection for welders.

EN ISO 11611: should you comply with class 1 or class 2?

The EN ISO 11611 norm consists of four tests, which simulate different FR-risks: radiant heat (ISO 6942), molten metal (9150), flame spread (ISO 15025) and electrical resistance (EN 1149-2).

The EN ISO 11611 itself is divided into class 1 and class 2. Do you know which one you should comply with? Gas welding, for example, is a class 1 welding activity. MMA welding (with basic or cellulose-covered electrode), MAG (with CO2 or mixed gasses) and MIG (with high current) welding are all class 2 welding activities. It is important that you are aware of the differences, in order to determine which standard your protective clothing needs to comply with. A risk assessment is crucial in order to familiarize yourself with the risks in your unique work environment.

In order to achieve a class 2-rating, you need to meet the class 2 test results of radiant heat and molten metal tests. To meet the standard, the fabric is tested on:

  • Heat transfer: 24 °C temperature increase after 7 seconds for class 1, and a 24 °C temperature increase after 16 seconds for class 2.
  • Impact of molten metal spatter: 40 °C temperature increase after 15 droplets for class 1, and 40 °C temperature increase after 25 droplets for class 2.
  • Electrical resistance: determining whether an electrical charge passes through the sample from the outside to the inside. The fabric should offer a certain level of resistance, measured in Ohm.

Selecting protective clothing for welding and allied processes: a complex process

As a Health and Safety manager, your aim is to build a strong safety culture in which protective clothing plays an important role.

Apart from complying with relevant standards, many other elements determine which fabric to select for your protective clothing... what is the effect of top- and undergarments on the level of protection the garment can offer? … how well do garments protect against grinding risks? … and what about washing protocols, that are extremely important in welding processes due to contamination with oils and greases?

Good news - you do not have to take this journey on your own.

At TenCate Protective Fabrics, we encourage you to collaborate with fabric suppliers, garment makers and industrial laundries. Together with our partners we are able to develop protective fabrics that are Made for Life. Read more and find out how you can activate your role in the protective clothing value chain.

Learn how to build a strong safety culture and feel confident in all your protective clothing solutions

When you are in the process of improving your worker’s protective clothing, you most likely encounter multiple challenges, such as assessing relevant risks in your work environment, determining which rules and regulations to comply with, and prioritizing your protective clothing specifications. This FR Fabrics Guide educates you on all relevant aspects of protective clothing and helps you prioritize:

FR Fabrics Guide

Download the FR Fabrics Guide

This complete and comprehensive FR Fabrics Guide helps you by educating all relevant aspects of protective clothing and helps you prioritize during your selection process:

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How can we help?

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