Mostly abbreviated as FR clothing, flame-resistant clothing is exactly what the name says. It is a special type of clothing that tactical workers wear when they are exposed to potentially flammable or thermal situations.
The specialty of these clothes is that they are made of special fibers and materials that do not catch fire easily. In case the FR apparel catches fire due to its intensity, they are designed in such a way that causes itself to extinguish immediately. This significantly lowers the rate of fire injuries and burns happening to the wearer.
Flame-resistant clothes play a major role in situations like flash fire, a thermal problem or an unexpected electric arc. They provide ample time to the wearer to escape the hazardous site in time to keep them safe and well.
Sites like industries, factories, oil & gas fields, mining, HVAC are some of the most common examples of jobs that have the scare of a fire hazard. Companies have different policies as to what their employees can wear and what they cannot depend upon the job they are doing. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also delineates specific guidelines for tactical workers to keep them safe.
This article is intended to sum up the dos and don’ts of FR clothing and what should be preferred for what job. Keep on reading to know more.
How does FR clothing works?
FR clothing is made from fabrics that are resilient to heat and fire. Some of the fabrics used to make the fr apparel are naturally resistant while others are treated with chemicals to make them flame resistant. Materials that naturally resist fire are Nomex, Kevlar and Modacrylic whereas cotton is treated with special chemicals to enhance its resistance and protective properties.
Naturally resistant and the treated ones, both behave similarly when exposed to flames. They won’t catch the fire easily, will not keep burning when removed from the source of combustion and most importantly do not melt because of the heat. When the fabric melts because of the heat intensity, it causes the most severe injuries and burns.
How is FR clothing rated?
As different fabrics offer different benefits, it depends upon the employer to choose the kind of fabric and clothes that are most suitable for their team and what sites they are working at. When selecting flame-resistant clothing for your team, it is crucial to know what safety rating does the apparel has which is categorized through arc rating. This rating indicates how much heat the fabric will transfer and the amount of protection the wearer will get.
The arc rating is measured in the values of calories per square centimeter. The higher the arc rating gets, the more protective will be the FR garment. Arc rating 4 FR clothes are suitable for the lowest risk, assessed as Hazard/Risk Category 1 (HRC1). Whereas the arc rating 4 clothing will provide maximum protection when carrying out tasks such as Hazard/Risk Category 4 (HRC4) which is considered the most severe risk.
The manufacturers are required to put the rating of each FR clothing item on its label to make it easier for the buyer to pick the right one. You can also make your employees wear multiple layers of flame-resistant apparel to increase protection.
While all arc-rated clothing is flame resistant, not all FR clothing is arc-rated. Some of the clothing that is not lab tested may only be made with flame-resistant fabrics. As an employer, you need to invest in the lab test FR clothing that meets all of the industry standards you are working in.
Types of FR clothing
Several professionals also choose to wear FR clothing as outerwear over their normal clothes that include coveralls, overalls, high visibility jackets, bomber jackets and other FR garments. Other gear includes balaclavas, face mufflers and lab coats.
Besides the FR clothing, there is personal protective equipment (PPE) available for different purposes. People may use it along with their flame-resistant clothes or just the PPE for low-risk sites. Hard hats, gloves, high-impact glasses and ear protection gear are some of the common examples of PPE that employers provide their team depending upon the high to low-risk sites they might be working on.
Depending upon the risk the workers face, they may be in a flame-sensitive zone or at an intermittent danger zone; there are clothing and PPE available in the market to equip your team as per your requirement. You can know the working conditions of your employees the best, thus, invest accordingly in your team’s FR outfits.