Our How it's Tested series explores safety standards and test methods for AR / FR garments and PPE. With Scott Margolin, Vice President of Technical as our guide, we examine many of the major tests to understand what they measure, how they measure it, and what that means to someone like you who is specifying or wearing the garment. Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting out, explore all episodes in this series to make sure you are up to date on the latest information.
High-visibility AR / FR clothing is an important category of personal protective equipment (PPE) because it not only protects you from arc flash and/or flash fire hazards but it enhances your visibility as you perform important job functions. This is particularly important in low-light and/or high-traffic areas.
ANSI/ISEA 107 provides reliable guidelines for proper selection and use of high-visibility safety apparel. The standard also provides performance testing criteria for the materials used to make high-visibility garments. In this episode, we explore those test methods.
Today, Scott is joined by a special guest, Melissa Dixon, Director of Product Management at National Safety Apparel (NSA), who is also an expert in high-visibility apparel. Let’s hear what she has to say about the test methods related to high-visibility apparel:
As Melissa states, ASTM E1164 is the test that tells us how to determine colors for high-visibility apparel. Within ASTM E1164, there are two color requirements:
To measure luminance, or how bright a color is, a spectrophotometer takes a light source, separates it into different wavelengths, and once a color sample is placed in the detector, it’s going to determine what different wavelengths are being absorbed and reflected based on the material. This results in an overall luminance factor, which is measured as the percentage of light that’s being emitted from the surface of that material.
Chromaticity, or the actual color the human eye perceives, is measured using coordinates provided by the spectrophotometer. These X/Y coordinates are plotted on a chromaticity diagram which determines compliance for background fabric of hi-visibility garments. As shown in the video, you’ll notice that florescent yellow/green is marked in a box. This allows for variation, meaning you could have a garment color that leans more toward yellow tones or you could have material that looks more neon green.
Mechanical Testing & Durability
ANSI 107 governs both AR / FR and non-AR / FR high-visibility clothing and it does call out some specific mechanical requirements such as, burst strength, tear strength, dimensional stability (shrinkage), and colorfastness. Colorfastness is particularly crucial for hi-visibility garments because of the importance of color related to visibility.
As Scott inquires in the video, these tests are typically done on new garments, but do we know anything about how luminance and chromaticity hold up after laundering and exposure to the sun? Melissa explains, the label on high-visibility garments typically indicates how many launderings a garment is good for. This does not refer to flame resistance or the background fabric’s luminance or chromaticity, instead, most of the time that limiting factor is referring to the reduction in the retro reflectivity of the reflective tape.
It’s important to note that as long as bleach is not used in the laundering process, and the other laundering instructions on the fabric label are followed, all AR / FR garments provided by Tyndale are guaranteed to maintain their flame resistance through the useful life of the garment.
We want to extend a special thank you to Melissa Dixon at NSA for participating in our How It’s Tested series and providing valuable information related to high-visibility garment testing.