Electricians, Engineers, Chemical Plant workers, Oil and Gas industry workers, Pulp and Paper industry workers, and Welders are some skilled trades professionals who face high risks on the job, like electric arcs and burns. In addition to other protective measures such as adequate safety training, identifying hazards, proper use of equipment, etc. companies should invest in PPE for workers, such as flame-resistant and high-visibility clothing. Flame resistant and ARC rated PPE are designed to protect the individual from burns caused by arc flashes. ARC rated apparel won’t ignite, melt, or drip, and won’t contribute to additional injuries caused by the arc blast.
Who would believe that ammonium phosphates and borax will be part of the beginnings of making protective clothing? The chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was the first to discover the benefits of making textiles relatively flame retardant in 1821. The number of injuries from burns was increasing in the petroleum refining and chemical industries, so companies had gotten uniforms resistant to fire in the 1970s.
Flame-resistant and flame-retardant differences
The difference appears in which fabrics are used to make clothing. Flame-resistant fabrics are made of threads that naturally resist burning, whereas flame-retardant fabrics are treated with chemicals to make them resistant to fire.
Ongoing research and development, and technology has helped create materials like Nomex, Kevlar and Modacrylic available along with cotton and wool, which are naturally resistant to flames.
What should you know when choosing them?
Having the right information and adequate access to products, are key factors in making decisions about getting the right PPE. An employer must take into consideration the following before deciding on new flame-resistant clothing:
• Fabric meets the standards, such as CSA Z96-02, NFPA 2112, CGSB 155.20, NFPA 70E, CSA Z462, ASTM F150. These standards specify the requirements and test methods for flame-resistant fabric and garments.
• Multi-purpose protection so it helps minimizing injuries,
- Engineered for flame resistance.
- Providing physical comfort.
- Always have a slightly baggy fit to prevent the direct transfer to the skin.
- Self-extinguishing after the fire source is removed.
- Must be worn with flame-resistant garments for increased protection.
- Choose professional cleaning to ensure the long-term resistance of clothing.
- FR-Tech® 88% premium cotton blended with 12% high-tenacity nylon, 7 oz (240 GSM).
- Material and all components meet CGSB 155.20-2017 and NFPA 2112-2018 certified to UL.
- Flame-resistant material is guaranteed for the life of the garment.
- Startech® FR reflective tape provides maximum visibility.
- 7702W – CSA Z96-15 Class 3 Level 2 and Class 3 Level FR.
- Arc Rating: 4.9 cal/cm²
- Features back seaming to keep in place without riding or bunching and comfortably aligns to daily wear.
- Covered, tag-free elastic bands reduce binding and maximize comfort.
- Lightweight and breathable fabric for maximum comfort
- Inherently flame resistant, FR protection will not wash/wear out.
Where to buy flame-resistant clothing?
TNWSA (True North Women’s Safety Apparel) sells these products and more through their online store. Mix and match tops and bottoms of the IFR 2-Piece coverall to find your perfect fit. If you need coveralls for your teams check out TNWSA, they have a variety of products, their products are size inclusive, and you can take advantage of interest-free payment option.
By Gabriela Mancas, Occupational Health, and Safety Consultant