Why Body Armour Should Offer Protection From Needles?
Written by: Robert Kaiser
Protection from needles is of greatest importance when looking at issuing body armour to your frontline staff. Hypodermic needles pose a serious and realistic threat to domestic front line professionals, such as private security, police and prison officers, as well as enforcement officers operating within Local Government’s Trading Standards, Licensing, Environmental Health and Housing.
Please read my very informative article I wrote on the 21st June 2018: “The Myth About Body Armour And Reliable Needle Protection“.
And if you haven’t got the time to do so… please have a quick look at this rather alarming video clip:
Facing someone carrying a firearm or any type of edged weapon can be classed as facing a ‘real problem’, but many of us will know someone who has been shot or stabbed but who also has survived such assault… I strongly believe on a domestic level there is a realistic chance of surviving such assault due to type of ammo or edged weapon used… or lack of ‘skill’ by the assaulting person.
However, being attacked by someone waving a hypodermic needles at you and sticking it at anywhere into your body can potentially mean coming in contact with blood-born pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C and this can potentially mean receiving the ‘death penalty’. In my personal and professional opinion this issue represents a much higher and more realistic threat, especially in terms of DOMESTIC front-line professionals e.g. Police, Prison Service, Civil Enforcement and Private Security Services.
There are many recorded incidents of HIV positive prisoners and civilians/criminals using a hypodermic needle as weapon, but the one which jumps into my mind right away is the one which occurred on 4th October 2012 when UK Police Officer Gemma Newman was stabbed with a hypodermic needles in her arm, by Polish shoplifter Grzegorz Pajak who was claiming that he was indeed ‘HIV Positive’. She has since considered leaving front line policing due to ‘deep psychological distress’ a court heard.
You can find a more detailed news report here: “Polish shoplifter jailed for stabbing police officer with a hypodermic needle after telling her he is HIV positive”.
Other reported incidents include a “Boston Man Charged With Armed Robbery And Assault With A Hypodermic Needle Facing Life Sentence” back in August 2012.
Another headline reads: “Man threatens to stab woman, 36, with hypodermic needle during purse snatching in Destiny USA parking lot”.
I guess that the arresting officers would be pretty interested if their standard issued body armor offers protection from needles.
Despite the opinion of many other experts, there are needle resistance standards out there, which might not be designed to test body armour against, but nevertheless can give professionals a very clear indication what level of needle protection a piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) offers.
ASTM (The American Society for Testing and Materials) has recently developed a new international standard, the ASTM F2878. This is a ‘Test Method for Protective Clothing Material Resistance to Hypodermic Needle Puncture’.
This test-method evaluates puncture resistance of protective clothing materials which may include: plastics or elastomeric films, coated fabrics, flexible materials, laminates, leathers or textile materials.
Please note that of course no single standard can replicate the conditions in which a needle puncture takes place, but testing to such standard must be seen as a good thing and will certainly eliminate some concerns a potential body armour wearer might have.
The EN 388:2003 (Protective gloves against mechanical risks) is another available test This is a test developed to verify the needle puncture resistance of gloves and has not been designed to test body armour, but again… it will indicate someone in need of needle protection that a specific product or material has been tested against a recognised standard and that it has passed such test.
Even if none of the above tests have especially been designed to test body armour and the precise level of protection from needles… it is simply better than no test at all. For me it would certainly be ‘reassuring’.