6 FAQs About Flame-Resistant Clothing
There has always been a lot of nuances & requirements when it comes to FR clothing. Maybe you’re about to start a new job & you’ve been told you’ll need to wear flame-resistant (FR) clothing. Whatever the case is, you suddenly have reason to be curious & ask — what exactly is flame-resistant workwear clothing?
In this article, we’ll discuss the most frequently asked questions about flame-resistant workwear clothing.
What is flame-resistant clothing?
Flame-resistant clothing, also known as FR clothing, refers to any clothing item which is designed & specifically manufactured to protect wearers from the potential intermittent flames & thermal exposure. FR workwear clothing is engineered to protect the wearer from injuries due to flames. These clothing items don’t easily catch fire, and even if they do, they are designed to self-extinguish.
Who needs to wear flame-resistant clothing?
Any employee who works in environments where there are possibilities of heat, fire or electrical injuries, the odds are good they should be wearing FR clothing. Typically, there are three broad categories of workers who should wear FR clothing for protection. These categories are based on the type of hazard the worker will be exposed to while working. The three primary hazards are:
Electric arc: People exposed to this hazard include electricians and certain utility workers & others.
Flashfire: This category includes pharmaceutical & chemical workers and those working in refineries & more.
Combustible dust: This category covers workers in food processing plants, the paper & pulp industry, etc.
What is the difference between “flame resistant” clothing & “fire retardant” clothing?
Flame resistant materials & clothing doesn’t melt or drip when exposed directly to flames or extreme heat. The vertical flame test is the official test method that determines whether a fabric is flame resistant or not. For a fabric to be classified as flame resistant, it must self-extinguish in 2 seconds or less after exposure to direct flame. Flame resistant fabric gains its self-extinguishing properties either from the use of inherently flame-resistant fibres or from flame resistant treatments.
Flame retardant material, on the other hand, stops or slows down the process of catching fire or reduces its intensity. These fabrics or clothing can be made from any material, but they must be treated with a special chemical to qualify as a flame retardant. Fabrics used for making this clothing are not made with non-flammable fibres.
What makes FR clothing flame resistant?
Flame resistant refers to FR clothing, which is made to self-extinguish when the flame source is removed from the clothing article. FR clothing is typically manufactured with fabrics with unique properties that prevent the clothing from melting, igniting, or dripping when exposed to an open flame; this reduces burn injuries to its wearers.
How to choose the right FR clothing?
The “best practice” for selecting FR clothing include:
- Your FR workwear clothing selection must be based on the probable worst-case exposure for the job/task.
- FR clothing should provide a good functional fit for protection as well as comfort.
- Sleeve cuffs of your clothing should be fully rolled down & secured.
- All garments, including outerwear, need to be fully fastened.
- FR clothing should be free from flammable contaminants such as oil or grease that can ignite & increase burn injury.
- Appropriate protective face, head, neck, eye, hand, & foot coverings should be worn.
Do we really need FR clothing?
OSHA mandates FR clothing & its usage, and the organization won’t hesitate to hand out fines to any company it finds to be outside of compliance with the regulations.
In addition to protecting workers, FR clothing also serves as a handy insurance policy for your business if in case an accident occurs. While it is certainly expensive for your company to outfit its workers in appropriate gears, it will be even more expensive for them if a worker is severely injured/burned. The cost of things such as workers’ compensation, training temporary replacement workers & other related expenses typically far outweigh the cost of protecting workers in the first place.
Therefore, all this goes to prove even if it weren’t for OSHA regulations, it is better for businesses to rather outfit their employees correctly than be forced to deal with onsite accidents or injuries!
We hope this information will help you make an educated choice when it comes to FR clothing!