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    Back Protector Performance—Standard Methodologies Versus Realistic Testing

    Published: 2016

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    Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) suits, also referred to as bomb suits, typically focus on frontal protection due to standard operating procedures asking for a frontal approach to explosive devices. Yet spine protection is essential to mitigate certain impacts arising from falls and from the body being ejected toward rigid obstacles after a blast. As such, the Public Safety Bomb Suit Standard from the U.S. National Institute of Justice (NIJ-0117.00) includes a spine-impact protection requirement based on a drop tower test methodology. Requirements from the NIJ standard were compared with similar drop tower-based back protection standards (BS EN 1621-2:2003, Motorcyclists' Protective Clothing Against Mechanical Impact). The role of the impactor mass was investigated with the objective of determining the role of linear momentum in impact testing. In addition, numerical simulations of drop tower tests were conducted, investigating the effect of impactor mass and impactor material. This study concluded that the impact energy levels from existing drop tower-based standards are significantly lower than realistic EOD threats and that transmitted force thresholds must be adjusted accordingly. This study thus highlights the fact that standards requirements (NIJ, BS EN, or others) must only be perceived as minimum requirements for spine protection, keeping in mind that realistic incidents are likely to yield much more severe impacts for which a higher level of protection may be required.


    spine protection, drop testing, performance standard, bomb suit, impact injury

    Author Information:

    Dionne, Jean-Philippe
    Med-Eng Research and Development, Ottawa,

    Cheng, Ming
    Med-Eng Research and Development, Ottawa,

    Levine, Jeff
    Med-Eng Research and Development, Ottawa,

    Keown, Matthew
    Med-Eng Research and Development, Ottawa,

    Makris, Aris
    Med-Eng Research and Development, Ottawa,

    Committee/Subcommittee: F23.50

    DOI: 10.1520/STP159320160007