Technological advancements allow manikins to test protective clothing
Workers wearing protective clothing for long periods of time may experience heat stress, especially if they have added padding or wear multiple pieces of protective clothing. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory is using manikins to calculate the evaporative resistance and garment performance in hot environments.
The sweating thermal manikins help scientists measure heat transfer through various fabric ensembles of specific types of garments. A network of pores over the exterior of the manikin is spaced to uniformly deliver water to the skin surface and ultimately simulate a sweating person.
Manufacturers of protective clothing use a standard testing process and assign a total heat loss number to a garment. The number indicates how much heat the fabric of a garment will trap and thus the potential for heat stress on the worker.
Typically testing has involved human volunteers to measure physiological responses to physical activity while wearing the garments in a controlled environment. However, differences in gender, fitness level, and body size make standardized responses impossible.
"The use of the sweating thermal manikin as a way to test fabric ensembles, independent of human variations, provides a standardized reference point from which subsequent human variations can be measured or accounted for, making the overall process of measuring heat stress more comprehensive and efficient," NIOSH says.
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February 4, 2013
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