Working in industries with specific safety procedures to follow means they are not up for debate. Employers put them in place to keep staff members safe. Some jobs require their workers to handle the equipment in a specific manner, and others have a dress code they need everyone to follow.
These guidelines go beyond wearing business casual or appropriate clothing. They entail wearing garments that protect from potential dangers. Here is everything you need to know about fire-resistant clothing.
It’s important to know how flame-resistant clothing works. The clothing is a self-extinguishing material that will not fuel a fire. This does not mean it repeals a fire or is flame-retardant, which is one of the most common misconceptions about FR clothing.
While fire-resistant fabric can still catch fire, it puts itself out almost immediately. It starts to char at the surface instead of spreading across as other fabrics would. This does not mean you should not take necessary action when you come into contact with flames. Don’t ignore it or overreact. Make sure the flame goes out, and check for damage to your clothing.
Before purchasing, you should know how much protection the clothing offers. All FR-clothing items have a place on the rating scale, and you’ll need to choose the correct one depending on your job. Check with your employer to determine which level of protective garments you need to purchase.
Manufacturers categorize FR-clothing on an Arc Thermal Protective Value (ATPV). The rating tells you how much heat gets transferred through the fabric during an arc flash. From this information, you can detect how much protection it provides between the fabric and your skin. You’ll see the values measured in calories per square centimeter.
FR-clothing covers people who work in particularly dangerous fields. If you work in an environment where heat, fire, and electrical injuries happen often, you need to wear FR clothing. Within those professions, a worker can experience three primary hazards at any given moment:
- Flash fires fall under the category of pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Working in a lab at a hospital makes you susceptible to these fires. Your employer should tell you about the proper clothing to prevent any injuries.
- Combustible dust pertains to workers in food processing plants and paper and pulp industries. Some construction jobs even fall under this category; most workers wear specific FR jeans.
- Electric arcs may happen to people exposed to electricity and utility hazards. Employers will definitely recommend wearing specific gloves for these roles.
Primary and Secondary Protection
Two different degrees of protection are worth mentioning: primary and secondary protection. You can probably surmise primary protection has a more crucial role. It deals with FR clothing (i.e., firefighter gear) designed for activities frequently exposed to flames, radiant heat, and molten splashes.
Secondary protection is not as durable, but it still provides considerable protection for workers. It offers a smaller degree of protection because the wearer experiences fewer hazards in their field. You’re not in constant danger like a firefighter.
Having all the facts about fire-resistant clothing makes it easier to find the correct items and know their limitations before making a purchase.