ISO Standards for Seat Testing and Seat Usage in Various Transport Sectors
The marine industry is taking its first steps towards standard tests for shock and vibration protection seating, but boats are not the only sector that risks injuring people by shaking them around. The off-road vehicle industry recognised this issue decades ago and now has an interlocking set of test standards on seat performance. The aerospace sector started even sooner with the work by Martin Baker in the 1940s setting minimum standards for aircraft ejection seats and car manufacturers have always been concerned with giving the prospective buyer a comfortable place to sit.
The marine industry has been taking advantage of this earlier work. Seat manufacturers and boat operators have learned from adapting automotive crash tracks or ejection seat launchers to develop purpose-made marine seat ‘wave slam’ test rigs. Measuring human exposure to shock and vibration at sea remains extremely challenging but equipment developed for other purposes has been simplified or ruggedized to survive the environment. Boat operators, at least for some large scale purchases, are asking their suppliers to demonstrate how the crew will be protected from injury. Some very good progress is being made.
Unfortunately, there is still some way to go. The duty for ‘compliance’ with regulations protecting crew from shock and vibration injury is typically on the employer - it cannot simply be purchased from a supplier. Most shock mitigation systems can be overloaded by a sufficiently powerful boat with a motivated coxswain so a more holistic approach is needed.
There is also a need for employers to understand the benefits, limitations and costs of different approaches but the sea is notoriously unrepeatable, testing at sea with untried equipment can be hazardous and there are currently no standardised tests for rating the performance of marine seats or other marine shock mitigation equipment.
To start to address this, a first ISO standard for assessing some aspects of marine seat shock isolation performance in controlled conditions is in development with input from the US, UK and Canadian military, the RNLI, KNRM, seat manufacturers and Universities.
Dr Tom Gunston - ISO Seat Testing Working Group
Dr. Gunston has approximately 20 years’ experience in the field of human exposure to whole-body vibration and shock with particular specialism in power tools, high speed marine craft and off-road vehicles.
He carried out research into suspension seat performance at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research and then worked for two years at QinetiQ assessing shock and vibration exposure on land, sea and air vehicles.
He now splits his work between the construction and high speed marine sectors. He is currently working for the RNLI and the MOD on shock and vibration exposure and seating performance and has worked for a range of marine craft operators, builders and seating suppliers.
He is convenor of the ISO standards group developing the marine seating test standard and chair of the British Standards panel on whole-body vibration.