Understanding Fire Resistant Clothing

There are many reasons for using fire resistant clothes in the workplace and, sometimes, even outside of it. Flammable clothing can lead to severe burn injuries in case of an accident involving fire or heat (such as an arc flash or flash fire explosion). We hope that this guide will help you get a better idea of what might be a good safety outfit for yourself…

Firstly, you need to determine the type of hazard that you are dealing with. What are you trying to protect yourself from?

  • Arc flash hazards
  • Flash fire hazards
  • Fire and sparks in and industrial setting
  • Welding
  • Extremely hot objects such as molten metals
  • Fire hazards encountered by fire fighters

Furthermore, depending on frequency of exposure to the hazard, you may need primary or secondary protective gear. Primary protective clothing is meant for use during activities that present a significant exposure to the hazard, examples of that type of clothing are aluminized clothes, firefighter turnout gear, or heavy duty leather clothes. Secondary protective clothing is normally used continuously, where exposure to hazards is intermittent – they are normally the fr uniforms that are worn daily on the job.

Different applications require a different level of protection and present a different level of risk. Thus, an arc flash is normally able to cause much more damage than having some sparks land on your sleeve while welding, even though the chances of exposure to an arc flash event are considerably smaller. To ensure that workers are properly protected, multiple rules and standards have been developed. Below are some standards and their applications.

  • NFPA 70e – standard for electrical safety in the workplace – arc flash protective clothing and gear
  • NFPA 2112 – standard for flame resistant garments for protection of industrial personnel against flash fire
  • NFPA 1975 – standard for station/work uniforms for emergency services
  • ASTM 1506 – standard performance specification for flame resistant and arc rated textile materials for wearing apparel for use by electrical workers exposed to momentary electric arc and related thermal hazards

Workers must be outfitted with the proper FR safety clothing for their jobs. Keep in mind that your company might be fined by OSHA if it is found that your workers are not properly protected from fire hazards. Furthermore, debilitating burn injuries are not uncommon in workplaces – they are devastating to the injured, expensive to the employers and, in most cases, avoidable via implementation of a safety uniform program.