What Is Flame Resistant Clothing?
Flame resistant (FR) clothing is a type of personal protective equipment (PPE) used to protect people against hazardous workplace environments where there are risks of fire, electrical arcs, and/or high temperatures. The materials used to make flame resistant apparel are specially designed to withstand high temperatures and igniting on fire. The use of FR clothing is better suited over standard industrial uniforms. Ordinary uniforms will not provide any protection in work areas where there is high heat and/or fire. Rather, the clothing will ignite and continue to burn, causing injury to the person.
The materials used to manufacture FR clothing resist ignition from a source of fire. Keep in mind the clothing may catch on fire from extended exposure for a lengthy period of time in a hazardous work environment. However, the clothing is made in such a way as to not spread flames. In addition, the clothing will self-extinguish fairly quickly after the fire source is removed. As a result, people who wear FR clothing in high risk work areas are protected from being burned, since the clothing does not break open, melt, or disintegrate from being exposed to fire. FR apparel is meant to create an insulating barrier to provide protection from heat, electrical arcs, and fire.
What Industries Use Flame Resistant Clothing?
There are several different industries which require the use of flame resistant clothing. Some of the more common jobs include:
- Utility Workers
- Chemical Engineers
- Pharmaceutical Production
- Refinery Workers
- Food Processing
- Paper and Pulp Production
- Chemical Manufacturing
- Paint Manufacturing
- Fire Fighters
- Emergency Medical Responders
In addition to these types of positions, any job where there is a risk of exposure to high temperatures, electrical arcs, and/or fire should be protected with the right FR clothing.
Flame resistant clothing and apparel are rated with an arc thermal performance value (ATPV). The rating is expressed as a number. The higher the number, the more protection the clothing provides. The rating is commonly found on FR clothing labels or provided by your firm’s uniform and apparel provider. Normally, FR apparel is selected by the employer based upon a workplace hazard assessment which identifies the electrical arc, temperature, and fire exposure risks in various locations throughout the facility.
Who Establishes the Requirements for FR Clothing?
Many high risk and hazardous environments require employers to provide the correct FR clothing for their employees. These requirements are outlined by OSHA regulations. The regulations detail the requirements a business must meet, the performance specifications (ATPV rating) of the FR clothing, and explain what testing methods were used to establish the ATPV ratings. Performance specifications/standards are constantly updated and identified by a number of nonprofit and government agencies. Not all of these specifications/standards are law. However, OSHA and other government agencies frequently incorporate updated compliance standards whenever they adapt new laws or update existing regulations.
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure they satisfy all current requirements and regulations for FR clothing. For more information about flame resistant clothing and protective uniforms, contact Prudential Overall Supply at 800-767-5536.