Mont Blanc, with its impressive 4,810 meters, towers high above the other Alps. Much lower, at the foot of the mountain, the Mont Blanc tunnel has been connecting Chamonix in France with the Italian village Courmayeur for over 50 years. A team of 40 employees ensure that the 11-kilometer-long tunnel remains open day and night. Their safety and working comfort recently had a boost with the delivery of a completely new outfit from Sioen, the company which now exclusively designs and manufactures the clothing for the tunnel staff.
“Since the disaster in March 1999, safety has been a central theme for both the French and Italian management of the Mont Blanc tunnel," says Marie Sanchez, responsible for Individual Protection at the Groupe RG. The French distributor of safety equipment has been following the negotiations for the new guidelines for tunnel staff clothing, for several years. Marie Sanchez: “All parties agree that all employees - in whatever capacity - should meet the same strict safety requirements. Nevertheless, the implementation of the project was far from a piece of cake. Only after we decided to join forces with Sioen, the project gained momentum."
Groupe RG and Sioen started working as partners from the beginning of 2017. From electricians and maintenance staff to road workers: all employees would receive high-quality, tailor-made garments that protect against fire hazards and numerous other risks associated with their work in and around the tunnel. Marie Sanchez: “We had a direct line with the tunnel management and provided coordination of the project at the tunnel. We took the measurements of every employee. Sioen then presented their solutions and the management of the Mont Blanc tunnel was so enthusiastic that Sioen was allowed to put together the entire outfit. For a project of that size, normally two or three manufacturers are asked for proposals, but in this case Sioen had exclusivity. A clear sign of confidence!”
A softshell jacket, high-vis T-shirt, multi-risk T-shirt, safety vest, overall, working trousers and two types of parkas. The management body of the Mont Blanc tunnel purchased no less than 8 different Sioen products, allowing for multiple clothing combinations. "The first reactions from employees were downright positive," says Marie Sanchez. “The clothing fits well, has easy maintenance guidelines and meets the strict standards that were agreed by the Franco-Italian cooperation. The technical staff of the Mont Blanc tunnel had been waiting for their new protective clothing for a few years, but the decisive approach of Sioen really paid off quickly.”
The 8 top products chosen by Tunnel du Mont Blanc:
- Kelford: high-vis rainjacket for increased risks with ARC protection. Ideal at cold temperatures and with good breathability.
- Hedland: flame retardant and antistatic rain parka with high visibility. Smoother and lighter than the Kelford. Available in combination with different linings, fleeces, softshells and body warmers.
- Detachable hoods for the Hedland and Kelford clothing.
- Matour: high-vis trousers with ARC protection. A light, smooth and breathable fabric. Flame retardant, moisture regulating and an excellent durability.
- Reggio: high-vis blouse with ARC protection. Just like the Matour, this blouse is flame retardant, moisture-regulating and has excellent durability. Comfortable to wear and perfect to combine with Matour high-vis trousers.
- Fareins: overall with high visibility and ARC protection. The same characteristics as the Matour and the Reggio.
- Eltow: antistatic polo with high-vis and flame-retardant properties. Feels soft and breathes just as well as high-quality sportswear. Ideal for use in combination with Matour trousers.
- Rupa: smooth T-shirt with high-vis and short sleeves. Ventilates very well, making this an excellent option at summer temperatures. This T-shirt is also a perfect combination with Matour trousers.