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Destructive Testing (DT)

Last updated: September 3, 2019

What Does Destructive Testing (DT) Mean?

Destructive testing (DT) is a form of object analysis that involves applying a test to break down a particular material to determine its physical properties, such as the mechanical properties of strength, toughness, flexibility, and hardness. It is most frequently used as a test for mass-produced items in which the cost of destroying a limited number of specimens is economically feasible.

Automobile crash tests are a well-known form of destructive testing. In the occupational safety field, destructive testing is frequently used to verify the protective capacities of various types of protective equipment by subjecting them to physical or chemical stressors to determine their point of failure.

Safeopedia Explains Destructive Testing (DT)

Destructive testing can be contrasted with non-destructive testing, which uses various electromagnetic, imaging, and measurement techniques to evaluate the properties of a material without causing damage. Destructive testing is often used instead of non-destructive testing to evaluate safety equipment because it is easier to carry out and interpret, and it produces more complete and reliable results than non-destructive testing does.

Destructive testing is used in occupational health and safety settings to verify the protective capacity of safety equipment or to ensure that a safety-vital part of a structure doesn’t fail. Destructive testing may also be used to verify the ability of safety equipment to continue to function under stressors unrelated to the protective service being provided, such as the ability of a respirator to continue functioning under extremely high temperatures or other physically demanding conditions.

Types of destructive testing include testing the ability of safety glass to withstand specific impact forces by dropping sandbags of known mass onto the glass from a predefined height; another test example involves subjecting various materials to fire to determine its flame-resistance. Fire-rated and arc-rated personal protective equipment (PPE), which is required under OSHA regulations, must be certified according to ASTM or IEC test standards that utilize destructive testing. These tests involve exposing the samples to an open flame (fire rating) or to incident energy that simulates an electrical arc of various strengths (arc rating) to determine how much energy the material can be subjected to before failure.

In addition to verifying the protective capacities of safety equipment, destructive testing can be used for hazard identification and safety assurance. ASTM standards for building asbestos project design and pre-construction surveys also often require the use of destructive testing, and a number of weld-strength testing standards—such as ISO 4136, which measures transverse tensile—also utilize destructive testing. Destructive weld tests and other design and structural integrity tests ensure that machinery and workplace structures will not fail dangerously if used within expected limits.


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