Summer officially arrives this Wednesday with the Summer Solstice and the weather has already turned hot and humid this week here in Delaware. As the weather changes, so does the clothing to shorts, tee shirts and bathing suits. Clothing plays an important role in keeping us protected, comfortable and clean. While we just naturally shift to different
types of clothing in response to seasonal weather changes, workers still are required to wear appropriate clothing in their workplace environment to protect them from physical, chemical and biological agents potentially detrimental to their health and well being. Performance standards for protective clothing developed by ASTM’s Committee F23 on protective clothing have helped in the selection and use of appropriate clothing for the past 25 years. Now as a member-at –large of F23 , I have the opportunity to review and comment on new draft standards and participate in the voluntary standard consensus process. I also am able to keep you up to date on the latest F23 activities.

This past week (June 12-15th) the committee met in Toronto, Canada. One of the agenda items of the committee was to address a possible scope change of the committee from clothing to Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment (PPC&E). This change was initiated in response to needs in personal protective equipment other than protective clothing. F23 has already developed standards in face masks, gloves, gowns, aprons, chaps, and boots, etc. which are used in conjunction with protective clothing, but tend to shift the activities beyond conventional understanding of clothing protection. By expanding the scope of the committee, members already involved with other types of protective equipment standards including clothing can participate and contribute to the development of specific PPE standards. As I mentioned in my 2nd Quarterly column, there has been an increase in collaboration with government organizations (NIOSH) and other agencies in personal protective equipment research and development and therefore expanding the scope would be more beneficial to all in terms of funding for research and standardization. When I checked the ASTM F23 Committee web site after the Toronto meeting recently, I noticed that the committee’s scope and title was changed to protective clothing and equipment.

In other F23 standard development, two new standards were approved. They are F2407-06, Standard Specification for Surgical Gowns Intended for Use in Healthcare Facilities and F2547-06, Standard Test Method for Determining the Attenuation Properties in a Primary X-ray Beam of Materials Used to Protect Against Radiation Generated During the Use of X-ray Equipment. Another item of particular interest is the status and 5 year review of F739-99a. on Permeation Testing for Liquids and Gases. This is the first test method developed by F23 and the one used most frequently for permeation tests with chemicals. If you have concerns or suggestions for improving this test method, now is the time to make them known so that changes can be made. Let me know your concerns so that I can make members of F 23.30 on Chemicals aware.

In other developments involving PPE but not ASTM, I have read that the House Appropriations Committee has repeated their call for OSHA to report on the status of its Employer Payment PPE regulation. This long-awaited rule would determine whether employers or employees are responsible for buying different types of PPE equipment. Final action on this regulation is expected in September. This could be costly for employees, but the rule has a long way to go before becoming a law.

Finally, in my last column, I mentioned that I wanted to share some pictures of permeation tests that I performed in the past including the most recent work at Savannah River. So far, I have not received them from Savannah River, but expect that they will soon be cleared through their security process. In closing, please do not hesitate to contact Rich Pesce or I about your permeation testing needs or equipment.

Have a safe summer,
Norm Henry