Technical Product Information

Workwear Standards

South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) mark bearing products are made under a permit from the SABS for specific products made to South African National Standards (SANS) by a registered manufacturer and include quality audits and verification. With regards to workwear there are three main SANS standards that are important to understand, these are SANS 434, SANS 1387 and SANS 1423.

SANS 434: This standard specifies requirements for the material, cut, make and trim of boilersuits, two-piece workwear suits, bib and brace overalls and coats and jackets (unlined) but does not cover garments designed for the protection against specific hazards. Thus this standard covers the materials, workmanship, styles, sizes, makeup of the suits, stitches and seams. In terms of SANS 434 and sizing, the below table depicts relevant information.

SANS 1387: This standard applies to woven cotton and similar apparel fabrics, the standard covers 11 types of fabric, however parts 1 to 4 are relevant to workwear with part 4 pertaining to cotton jean and drill fabrics. The two predominant fabrics utilised in the manufacture of workwear are:

  • J54: Jean material with a 2/1 twill weave, 220g/m2 minimum.
  • D59: Drill material with a 4/1 satin weave, 270g/m2 minimum.

The difference between the twill and satin weave is just the different patterns that the yarns have been weaved. D59 drill fabric is recommended for heavy duty garments and overalls. If the Yarn is the same, the satin weave used in D59 fabric makes the garment a lot heavier and denser than a garment manufactured from J54 fabric with a twill weave.

SANS 1423: Part 1 is for performance requirements for textile fabrics of low flammability. The standard covers the flammability performance requirements for four classes of washable apparel fabric, each class being divided into three flammability performance categories.

Fabric Class:

  • Class A: Capable of withstanding the required industrial or hospital laundry processes given in SANS 10146
  • Class B: Capable of withstanding wash treatments at temperatures of up to 95 Degrees Celsius
  • Class D: Capable of withstanding wash treatments at temperatures of up to 60 Degrees Celsius
  • Class C: Capable of withstanding wash treatments at temperatures of up to 40 Degrees Celsius

Flammability Category:

  • Category 1: The fabric does not ignite within a given time period.
  • Category 2: The fabric ignites within a given time period but the flame spread ceases within a specified distance.
  • Category 3: The fabric ignites within a given time period nd might continue to flame but at a rate of flame propagation that is within a specified limit.

ISO 90001:2008: In order for workwear to be SABS mark bearing these products need to be manufactured in ISO9001:2008 (SANS9001) accredited manufacturing facility. In addition the SABS will routinely check the fabric against SANS 1387 and the manufactured garments against SANS 434 to ensure compliance with the standards.

Often manufacturers will manufacture workwear from SANS 1387 certified fabric to the exact SANS 434 standards but do not undertake the process of obtaining certification from the SABS and thus their garments will not bear SABS insignia on the labelling such as below. These garments are often called or labelled SABS compliant and made to SABS standards but they are not SABS certified. These garments will be marketed significantly cheaper than SABS certified garments as the manufacturer has not incurred the expense of ensuring their manufacturing facility is ISO9001 certified and the expense of certifying the garments against SANS 434 standards.

Article prepared and written by Clinton Smith and Hayden Hill – 27.10.2020

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