Protective or safety clothing is any garment designed to increase the safety & well-being of the wearer. The right personal protective clothing will reduce the risk of accident & employee injury. For any clothing item to be considered PPE, it must first correctly fit to protect a certain body part. And next, the garment should be selected for its ability to protect against the type of hazards present, such as electrical, chemical, biological, heat/fire, or physical. And finally, the protective workwear clothing must be strong enough to act in one of the three ways:
- Acting as a total barrier against infiltration of harmful substances
- If infiltration does occur, it should reduce the extent of injuries from serious to minor
- Protecting workers long enough for them to escape the area or the hazard
Read on to understand more about protective clothing and why it is so crucial.
Protection from Chemical Processes
Many organizations use strong chemicals during their manufacturing processes that require chemical protective suits to minimize the risk of exposure. Manufacturers of detergents, fertilizer, dyes, light bulbs, metals refining & plastics processing are just a few of the many industries that use some very strong & toxic chemicals. Protection from these chemical processes can be complex. Moreover, these chemicals are sometimes in solid or liquid form and also release toxic gases, which can affect workers in multiple ways such as inhalation, ingestion, direct skin contact, or by way of splashing into the mouth or eyes. For these reasons, workers working with them will require full protection from chemicals. Whenever workers are around harmful chemicals, an employer must provide eye protection such as face shields or goggles, along with chemical protective suits to protect the worker’s skin.
Disposable FR Clothing for Burn Hazards
Flame-resistant (FR) clothing plays an important role in protecting employees working under conditions where there are chances of sparks, embers, flame, or flash fire. Welders, cooks & grill masters, iron & steel mills, electrical utilities, and certain manufacturing processes that use furnaces or boilers typically present a heat or fire hazard to workers.
Disposable flame-resistant clothing can provide layered protection of primary FR garments for certain industries, while in other cases, the FR clothing coverall is worn with the normal workwear uniform. FR clothing is designed in such a manner that it self-extinguishes once it has been removed from the source of the fire. Instead of catching fire & bursting into flames, it gives the worker enough time to recognize the fire & make a quick escape.
PPE for Remediation Service Workers
Biological & health hazards are the main concerns for workers that work at removing lead paint, asbestos, mold, waste & clean-up, and for restoration workers that help to rebuild communities after heavy storms or floods. It is impossible to control the hazards that may exist in such types of conditions. Any biological or chemical exposure at these contaminated sites can cause various health issues.
Therefore, to keep workers safe from dangerous particles or waste material, it is important to use protective workwear clothing designed to put a barrier between the worker & substances that can lead to health problems. These PPE clothing will provide physical protection against toxic chemicals, mold spores, liquids, and particulates.
Moreover, OSHA’s safety standards make it imperative for companies working under various industries to follow the safety guidelines to keep their employees safe. Any organization that fails to do so may land up in legal trouble and heavy fines. Therefore, it is important to understand the safety requirements for your industry and make sure that your employees are well protected against potential risks.
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!