Andy Smith
MIne-action specialist
 

PPE in the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS)

 


The IMAS are the UN’s International Mine Action Standards

The IMAS use the words "shall", "should" and "may" to indicate different levels of obligation.

If a demining group wants to claim to work within the IMAS, it must comply with all the statements that are preceded by "shall". Statements preceded by "should" are IMAS preferences that should only be varied with a reason. Statements preceded by "may" are options that can be considered, but do not have to be.


IMAS 10.30
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4 PPE requirements

4.1 General
The levels of PPE provided for use in hazardous areas shall be based on a number of factors including: the local risk(s), operational procedures and practices, and local environmental conditions. (Guidelines on the process of risk assessment and risk reduction are given in ISO Guide 51.)

Training shall be provided on the proper use, maintenance and storage of the PPE in use within the demining organisation. Facilities should be provided for its proper storage and carriage. Equipment shall be examined on a regular basis to ensure that it is suitable for use.

4.2 Blast protection
PPE should be capable of protecting against the blast effects of 240 gm of TNT at stand-off distances, for each item of PPE, appropriate to the activity performed in accordance with SOPs. Equipment provided to reduce the risk from such a hazard shall include, as a minimum:

a) frontal protection, appropriate to the activity, capable of protecting against the blast effects of 240 gm of TNT at 30 cm from the closest part of the body; and

b) eye protection capable of retaining integrity against the blast effects of 240 gm of TNT at 60 cm, providing full frontal coverage of face and throat as part of the specified frontal protection ensemble.

Note: A Technical Note for Mine Action (TNMA) will be developed to lay down the test and evaluation protocols to be follow during the test regime of PPE.

Note: Although this standard lays down distances at which the PPE must be effective it must be emphasised that this does NOT imply to deminers that they will be safe at such distances. Distance itself is an excellent attenuater of blast effects and the further away from an undesired explosive event the better!

The frontal protection ensemble provided to employees, whether required to kneel, sit or squat shall be designed to cover the eyes, throat (frontal neck), chest, abdomen and genitals. Where SOPs permit employees to work in the kneeling or squatting position, the frontal protection ensemble should cover the front of the thighs.

Hand tools should be constructed in such a way that their separation or fragmentation resulting from the detonation of an AP blast-mine incident is reduced to a minimum. They should be used with appropriate hand protection such as a hand-shield or gloves. Hand tools should be designed to be used at a low angle to the ground and should provide adequate stand-off from an anticipated point of detonation.

During the risk reduction process, demining organisations may consider providing blast proof boots for the protection of feet and lower limbs, where there is a significant risk that cannot be reduced by SOPs alone, provided that the blast boots being considered are proven to be effective in reducing that risk.

Note: The effectiveness and operational benefits of mine boots is still a contentious issue within the mine clearance community, and there are wide ranging views and opinions on their use. Nevertheless mine boots do exist, and therefore demining organizations may wish to evaluate their suitability for their particular operational scenario during the planning phase of a clearance operation. To date, only one independent trial (US State Department sponsored) has been conducted, which identified that the cost of provision and replacement is high, whilst the benefits are unproven. There is currently a danger that they offer “false security”. The situation will be monitored and reviewed during the ongoing review process for IMAS, and any updates will be distributed through TNMA.

4.3 Fragmentation protection
Fragmentation mines currently overmatch all but specialist EOD ensembles, which emphasises the initial need to minimise risk procedurally via appropriate SOPs. Protection should nevertheless be provided against non-designed fragmentation from other mines, (such as that from plastic-bodied blast mines), and to potential secondary victims where such a threat cannot be removed procedurally. PPE provided to reduce the risk from such a hazard should include, as a minimum:

a) ballistic body armour with a STANAG 2920 v50 rating (dry) of 450m/s for 1.102g fragments. (Such tests for ballistic protection do not realistically replicate mine effects, but will continue to be used until an accepted alternative is developed as an international standard);

b) a full face visor as described in clause 4.2(b) above. However, if an analysis of the threat using the criteria set out in these guidelines and IMAS 10.10 indicates that a full face visor would provide inadequate protection across a full 3600 threat spectrum, then a helmet should be worn. The helmet should have a ballistic rating similar to the ballistic body armour selected by the demining organization; and

Note: eye protection should be no less than that offered by 5mm of untreated polycarbonate. It should provide full frontal coverage of face and throat as part of the specified frontal protection ensemble. (If the body protection is fitted with an “overlap”, then the visor should be capable of fitting behind this “overlap” when in use).

Note: A Technical Note for Mine Action (TNMA) will be developed to lay down the test and evaluation protocols to be followed during the test regime of PPE.

4.4 EOD clearance sites
When engaged in the clearance of UXO or other hazardous ordnance, an enhanced level of protection may be necessary. This should be defined in SOPs, and may include conventional body armour or other specialist PPE ensembles.

See also IMAS and PPE Requirements - a paper explaining this IMAS.