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A quick guide to EN Standards

All protective clothing needs to conform to certain safety standards to protect workers who are employed in a high risk or hazardous environment. Anyone who works on a public highway, in a high fire or flame risk situation, will need specialist clothing to keep them as safe as possible.

EN Standards can be very confusing, so you need to know what to look for. The term fire retardant as applied to organic (i.e. containing carbon) materials, might be better being referred to as reduced fire hazard, as all will burn under certain circumstances. First of all, if you need specialist work clothing or protective clothing for those at risk, you need to go to look very carefully at what you are buying and who you are buying it from. Flame retardant clothing is a pretty niche market and you need to buy from someone who knows what they are talking about.

You will see all sorts of symbols and codes written on labels, so which is correct? Well, the answer to that is that a lot of them may be correct as standards have changed. This does not mean that the old standard was incorrect, it simply means that the new standards will make clothing even safer.



This is the European standard for high visibility clothing. It states that those operating in hazardous situations must be visible in any light conditions, day or night. The standard provides for two performance parameters:

X - Surface of fluorescent and retro-reflective material (3 levels)
Y - Quality of the retro-reflecting materials (2 levels)

Class 3: Highest Level

This describes the highest level of protection, required for those working on or near motorways, dual-carriageways or airports. The clothing must feature at least 0.80m² of fluorescent background material and 0.20m² of retro-reflective materials. (4 meters of 5cm wide reflective tape)

Class 2: Intermediate Level

This level of protection is necessary for those working on or near A and B class roads and for delivery drivers. The clothing must feature at least 0.50m² of fluorescent background material and 0.13m² of retro-reflective material. (2.60 metres of 5cm wide reflective tape)

Class 1: Minimum Level

This level of protection is relevant for those working on a private road, or to be used alongside class 2 or 3 high visibility garments. The clothing must feature at least 0.14m² of fluorescent background material and 0.10m² of retro-reflective material.



This is the European standard for protective clothing used in foul weather, wind and cold conditions above -5°C.

There are two performance parameters:
X - 3 levels of waterproofness
Y - 3 levels of breathable properties

EN 11612

EN ISO 11612

The Railway Group Standard gives the minimum requirements for high visibility clothing worn by Rail Industry workers.


This is the International Standard setting out the performance requirements for garments with limited flame spread properties, which may be worn for a variety of end uses, or where the user may be exposed to radiant, convective or contact heat or molten metal splashes.

Code A: Limited flame spread
Code B: Protection against Convective Heat - 3 levels
Code C: Protection against Radiant Heat - 4 levels
Code D: Protection against Molten Aluminium Splash - 3 levels
Code E: Protection against Molten Iron Splash -- 3 levels
Code F: Protection against Contact Heat - 3 levels


The European Standard for protective clothing for those working in an environment where they may be exposed to heat (excluding clothing for firefighters and welders)

Performance levels are stated by the following categorisation:
A - limited flame spread
B - protection against convective heat
C - protection against radiant heat


The European Standard for protective clothing providing protection against heat and flame. It applies to clothing which have limited flame spread materials and assemblies.


This is the European Standard for clothing designed to protect against the danger of static electricity. It is not applicable for protection against mains voltage.

EN1149-1:1996 Test method for surface conducting fabrics
EN1149-3:2004 Charge decay test method for all fabrics
EN1149-5:2008 Performance requirements

EN ISO 14116

This standard details the limited flame spread properties of materials, material assemblies and protective clothing to reduce the chances of clothing burning and constituting a hazard.

EN13034:2005 + A1:2009 Protective Clothing against Liquid Chemicals

This standard states the performance requirements for chemical protective clothing offering limited protective performance against liquid chemicals (Type 6 and Type PB [6] equipment). It specifies the the minimum requirements for limited use and reusable limited performance chemical protective clothing. Limited performance chemical protective clothing is intended for use in cases of a potential exposure to a light spray, liquid aerosols or low pressure, low volume splashes, against which a complete liquid permeation barrier (at a molecular level) is not required.

The standard covers both chemical protective suits (Type 6) and partial body protection (Type PB [6]). Chemical Protective suits (Type 6) cover and protect at least the trunk and the limbs, e.g. one piece coveralls or two piece suits, with or without hood, boot-socks or boot covers. Partial body protection of similar limited performance (Type PB [6] covers and protects only specific parts of the body, e.g. coats, aprons, sleeves, etc.)

EN ISO 11611

This is an International Standard stating the minimum basic safety requirements and the test methods required for protective clothing for use in welding and allied processes (excluding hand protection).

Two classes of performance requirements are specified: Class 1 is protection against less hazardous welding techniques and situations, causing lower levels of spatter and radiant heat. Class 2 is protection against more hazardous welding techniques and situations, causing higher levels of spatter and radiant heat.


This standard investigates the fabric and garments ability to protect against the thermal effects of an electric arc event. This can be done via two test methods:

Box Test Method EN61482-1-2

The fabric/garment is exposed to an electric arc confined in a specific box with a specific electrode arrangement for 0.5 seconds. Class 1 is to a current of 4 kA arc, Class 2 is to a current of 7 kA arc. Test conditions for class 1 & 2 try to simulate typical exposure conditions for a short circuit current of 4 kA and 7 kA respectively.

Open Arc Method EN61482-1-1

The ATPV result (expressed in cal/cm2) represents the maximum incident thermal energy in units of energy per square area that a fabric can support before the wearer will suffer 2nd degree burns.

This method tests the fabric with an 8 kA arc for various incident durations.

Workers are assumed to be safe if the arc rating of their clothes exceeds the electric arc incident energy calculated in the worst case scenario of a risk assessment.

Garments can be layered to achieve an overall ATPV Rating. For example, Thermals may achieve an ATPV of 4.3 Cal/m², and an outer coverall may achieve an ATPV of 13.6 Cal/cm•. However the combination ATPV will be greater than the sum of the two single layers, as the air gap between the two layers affords the wearer additional protection.


The European Standard covering industrial safety helmets. It provides specifications for shock absorption, resistance to penetration, resistance to flame and chin strap anchorage. It also advises that the shelf life of helmets is 5 years from the date of manufacture.


The European Standard specifying the physical and performance requirements, methods of test and marking requirements for industrial bump caps.


This European Standard applies to personal eye protection and tests for impact, optical quality, chemical, dust and molten metal protection.


The European Standard for the testing of ear defenders and ear plugs. It states that persons working in noise levels between 80dBA and 85dBA must be provided with suitable hearing protection on request. For those working at or above 85dBA suitable hearing protection must be supplied and worn.


The European Standard for the testing and protection levels offered by filtering face masks.


The European Standard for safety handwear, defining the general requirements for features such as glove design and construction.


The European Standard for gloves protecting against mechanical risks.


European Standard for gloves protecting against thermal risks.


This standard applies to medical gloves for single use, establishing their strength and protection properties.


This standard applies to disposable gloves intended for protection against chemicals and micro organisms.

EN ISO 20345

This European Standard identifies the protection offered by safety footwear. It has a comprehensive classification system designed to describe the various protection offered, such as the presence of a safety toecap, penetration resistance, anti-static properties and water resistance.


This European Standard tests the slip resistance of safety, protective and occupational footwear.


The European Standard for knee protectors for use in a kneeling position. It describes the test methods and specifies the performance levels.