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75% reduction rate of accidental burn injury

26 August 2008

The use of heat and flame protective clothing made of DuPont Nomex has helped to dramatically reduce the rate of accidental burn injury over a four year period at a large chemical plant in South-West Germany. Up until 2003, each year between 20 and 25 accidents involving burns or scalds to arms and upper body areas had affected employees at the Degussa plant of Roehm, SW Germany.

75% reduction rate of accidental burn injury
75% reduction rate of accidental burn injury

The introduction of a new safety campaign that included procurement of new protective clothing made of Nomex fibre has led to a reduction in accidents of 75%.

At its Degussa plant, Roehm employs around 1,000 people in the production of preliminary products used to make Plexiglas and numerous methacrylate-based primary and auxiliary products for a wide range of plastics applications. Here, chemicals handled include substances such as acetone, hydrocyanic acid, ammonia, acetone-cyanhydrin, peroxide and sulphur trioxide.

To minimise accident numbers as much as possible and to better protect workers against the risk of burn injury, new protective clothing was procured in 2003 as part of the company’s “zero accident” objective.
Nomex Comfort offers built-in heat protection and permanent anti-static properties. In addition to excellent flame and heat protection, the clothing needed to provide permanent anti-static properties because of its use in explosion protection zones. The equipment also needed to be lightweight and comfortable to wear, offering the wearer considerable freedom of movement. Thanks to its composition of 93% Nomex, 5% Kevlar and 2% anti-static fibres, fabric made of Nomex Comfort offered the required performance characteristics without the need for chemical treatment. The addition of Kevlar to the fibre blend makes the fabric significantly more resistant to breaking up, as the fabric remains intact longer and offers great protection, even when exposed to intense heat or fire. The anti-static fibres help to prevent the clothing from becoming statically charged.

The protective equipment comprises a jacket combined with either coverall or trousers. Thanks to its low basis weight of 265g/sq.m, the clothing is light in weight, and is practically as comfortable to wear as normal working clothes. In addition to the permanent flame-resistant and anti-static properties, the clothing also offers excellent thermal insulation. If a fluorocarbon treatment is applied, it further offers limited splash protection against acids and alkalis (Type 6) in accordance with EN 13034.

The introduction of the protective clothing was accompanied by viewing of a video that demonstrated flame tests of the clothing on the DuPont Thermo-man system. The video reveals the performance of the new protective suits in comparison with the previously used cotton clothing. After exposure to flames for four seconds during the flame tests, the garment made of Nomex yielded 23% burns, 11% second degree and 12% third degree, whereas the cotton clothing in mint condition yielded a total of 81% burns, 15% second degree and 66% third degree. The video highlighted the benefits of Nomex Comfort.

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