European standard defining the obligations relating to individual protections (EPI) for the knees, the EN 14404 standard was put in place to meet the needs of many trades in construction and crafts. Since its creation, brands have competed in creativity to offer professionals a wide choice of knee pads and work clothes that meet the requirements of this standard.
The professionals concerned
Are concerned by this standardized equipment EN 14404, all trades involving a kneeling work position: masons, tilers, plumbers, etc. Pants and knee pads must be perfectly adjusted, that is to say without risk of friction or slipping. In terms of sizes, you should know that certain types of knee pads can be shortened if necessary to better adapt to different models of work pants. In all cases, the entire knee must be protected over an area of at least 24 x 15 cm. Depending on the nature of the ground and the type of pressure exerted on the knees, the protections may or may not offer penetration resistance. The tests take into account theshock absorption, the puncture resistance by pointed or sharp objects, as well as the ability to distribute the pressure over the entire knee surface. This gives the following classification:
The different levels (or classes) of protection
- Level 0: On flat soils where no resistance to penetration is required
- Level 1 : On flat soils where a penetration resistance of at least 100N is required
- Level 2 : On difficult surfaces where a penetration resistance of at least 250N is required
What obligations for employers?
Every employer has a duty to respect the standards in terms of safety at work, it is therefore to him that theobligation to equip its employees with knee pads certified by standard EN 14404. When a professional working on his knees is not sufficiently protected, he runs the risk of exposing himself to severe injuries such asknee hygroma, an inflammation of the kneecap considered an occupational disease, sometimes irreversible.
The set of work pants + knee pads
Standard EN 14404 only makes sense if we consider the set formed by work trousers and suitable knee pads (if possible from the same manufacturer). The performance of a garment is not valid otherwise, unless the knee pads are directly and permanently attached to the garment, as on this model of Caterpillar pants. More and more multipocket pants but also overalls and coveralls have kneepad pockets certified to EN 14404. These are most often protective type 2, according to the categories distinguished below.
The different types of protection
- Type 1 : Knee protection independent of any clothing and fixed around the leg
- Type 2 : Plastic foam inserted in the pockets of work trousers, at the knees
- Type 3 : Equipment not attached to the body but placed when moving the user
- Type 4 : Accessory with additional functions such as a frame to help stand up or kneel
The case of protections type 1 concerns independent knee pads, strap or elastic cord, which attach directly around the leg, over pants for example. The protections of type 2 are protective plastic foam plates requiring the wearing of work trousers. The latter must be equipped with pockets allowing the knee pads to be slipped directly inside. The protections of type 3 are specific pieces of equipment which are not attached to the body but which are put in place when the user moves. They can be indicated for the knees taken as a whole or separately. Finally, the protections of type 4 benefit from very specific additional characteristics, for example a framework designed to make it easier to kneel or stand up.
In general, the EN 14404 standard implies marking obligations very precise which allow to know the mechanical requirements in terms of consistency and pressure distribution, the degree of comfort or even the dimensions protected areas. If you have to wear knee pads on a regular basis during your work, we advise you to opt for type 2 models that slip inside suitable work pants. If, on the other hand, recourse to a EPI standard EN 14404 is only for you occasional, prefer type 1 knee pads which can be added to any garment.