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How to Conduct an FR Wear Trial

Sept. 17, 2015
Wear trials are the best way to evaluate the performance, comfort, usability and applicability of any kind of personal protective equipment (PPE). While lab tests and promotional videos give an overview of prospective garments, performing a test onsite helps put any hype aside to determine true performance.

Wear trials also can help alleviate operational headaches associated with selecting poor garments for the job. Productivity, worker satisfaction and turnover rate can be impacted if FR garments turn out to be completely ill-suited. And buying or renting garments that do not successfully meet the needs for the job can be costly.

Wear trials should be structured carefully to ensure the company ends up with the right garment. Wear trials take resources, so effectively and meticulously planning out the process is crucial for a good return on investment.

First, make a straightforward timeline. Establish a specific wear trial start and end date. Wear trials can be any length of time, but should focus on capturing the overall conditions of a particular role. To ensure an accurate wear trial, select a timeline that best fits employees' needs and demonstrates the best representation of the day-to-day work environment.

Be sure to select qualified, trusted participants. Ideal candidates should be comfortable with the responsibility of selecting what everyone will be wearing, objective enough to do a fair evaluation and also be leaders because they will help explain the selection criteria to those who may question it.

It is best to use the pre-trial time to narrow down the number of garments to three very different choices. Many brands use the same fabric, so be sure to spread out your selections.  Garments should be assessed on critical attributes that affect the job role.  For example:

  • How comfortable is the garment –at the beginning and at the end of the day?
  • Is the garment lightweight, flexible and breathable?
  • How long will it take to break in the garment?
  • Is the garment easy to put on?
  • Does it distract you from your work?
  • Is the garment cooler than other garments?
  • Are the garment features useful – pockets, snaps, clasps?

Written or online surveys are necessary for tallying worker feedback on the garments. This feedback can then be analyzed to determine which attributes were favored in each garment. One-on-one interviews also should be conducted to ensure the process was understood and the test was completed as expected. These final steps ensure the results are valid and the selected garment is truly the best choice for your site.

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