Andy Smith
Mine action specialist

IMAS and its PPE Requirements


The IMAS are the International Mine Action Standards

The IMAS on Safety and Occupation Health PPE was formally revised in April 2009 and updated in 2013. Some significant changes were made and all organisations seeking to be IMAS compliant should read it carefully.

Changes to IMAS 10.30 S&OH PPE

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

If a demining group claims to work to the IMAS, it must comply with all the requirements that are preceded by 'shall'. Statements preceded by 'should' are IMAS preferences and indicate a requirement that should only be varied with a reason. Statements preceded by 'may' are options that can be considered, but do not have to be.

The April 2009 revision of IMAS 10.30 made significant changes based on field experience and the demining accident record. One change was of particular relevance to the provision of PPE. The text is reproduced below for reference.

The most significant change is the removal of the requirement for a full-face visor to be worn at all times. While a full-face visor is still preferred (a 'should'), the minimum requirement (a 'shall') is now eye protection "held over the eyes in a frame that prevents blast ingress from beneath". This allows purpose made goggles and various blast-masks to be used.

Another significant change is the removal of the requirement for body armour to have a collar that overlaps the outside of the visor. If there is no need to wear a visor, this makes sense, but the change was partly made because the need for a collar was not considered proven. Some armour designs have no collar and there is no evidence of an increase in neck injuries amongst those wearing it. There is evidence of an increase in face and eye injuries in those accidents, but that could have been because the visor was raised at the time. In my view, if a deminer is issued a full-face visor, there should be a requirement for the frontal body armour to include a collar designed to fold against it in a blast.

The guidance on the use of blast-resistant handtools remains the same, and demining groups should use them unless that have a good reason not to. The accident record indicates that severe hand and arm injuries occur most often when inappropriate tools are used.

IMAS 10.30 (4th June 2013 amendment)

4.3. Minimum PPE requirement

PPE shall be capable of protecting the parts of the body that are covered against the blast effects of 240 gm of TNT at distances appropriate to the wearer’s activity.

The amount of PPE provided shall be determined as a result of a field risk assessment and management decision. The minimum PPE inside the safety distance of a suspected hazardous area or when engaged in any activity that involves being close to mines and ERW, shall be:

a) Body armour capable of satisfying the ballistic test outlined in STANAG 2920, achieving a V50 rating (dry) of 450m/s for 1.102g fragments. It shall also be capable of protecting the chest, abdomen and groin area against the blast effects of 240 gm of TNT at 60 cm from the closest part of the body; and

b) Eye protection that is held over the eyes in a frame that prevents blast ingress from beneath. The eye protection shall be capable of retaining integrity against the blast effects of 240 gm of TNT at 60 cm and shall provide protection equivalent to not less than 5 mm of untreated polycarbonate. However, it is recommended that eye protection should be a part of frontal head protection capable of protecting against the blast effects of 240 gm of TNT at 60 cm and providing full frontal coverage of face and throat.

Note: Commonly available industrial safety spectacles do not meet the minimum requirement of this standard and shall not be used as demining PPE.

4.4. Fragmentation protection

The fragmentation danger from most fragmentation mines cannot be protected against with lightweight and practical PPE. This emphasises the need to minimise risk through the use of inherently safe procedures. Although the level of protection may not be sufficient, PPE provided to reduce the risk from fragmentation mines shall be at least that used as protection against a blast threat described under Clause 4.3 above.

4.5. Hand tools

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. 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. The use of gloves can provide protection against non explosive injury and should be considered.