The safety of workers is the number one concern for any hazardous work environment. Although flame resistant apparel may have been considered optional or any afterthought for many industries in the past, relatively recent changes to OSHA regulations have now mandated its use in a variety of fields. If your work environment meets these guidelines, then your workers must be equipped with proper flame-resistant clothing as part of their standard personal protective equipment (PPE).
Unfortunately, choosing flame-resistant safety gear is not as straightforward as it may seem. Read on to get a quick understanding of how this clothing works so that you can make the best and safest decision for your workers.
What is Flame Resistant Clothing?
Flame resistant safety apparel, often abbreviated as FR clothing or FRC, refers to any garment which will not continue to burn once an ignition source has been removed. It is important to understand the flame-resistant clothing is not fire proof. Instead, it is created from materials which naturally resist burning and will rapidly extinguish themselves without any additional action required. This is distinct from flame retardant protective gear, which is treated with chemicals to obtain the same slow burning, self-extinguishing properties.
Cost and Wear
Flame resistant clothing is generally more expensive than traditional work gear, but it lasts longer as well. Many FR-rated garments are expected to last for five or more years, making them fairly cheap investments over the long run. Unlike flame retardant work clothes, the there is no risk of a flame-resistant garment losing its protective properties over time. Instead, these garments can be treated in the same way as any other piece of clothing and used for as long as their overall condition remains acceptable.
Types of Clothing
Although PPE is often highly specialized, flame resistant gear is available in a wide variety of styles to fit many different use cases. Utility coveralls are one of the most common forms, but base layer t-shirts, sweaters, button-down work shirts, and even rain jackets are all available in flame resistant or flame-retardant form. This is especially helpful since layering FR gear is often the safest option, so a base layer t-shirt below a regular wok shirt or coveralls will provide added protection against fire hazards.
Of course, the wide array of styles also means that this is one form of PPE that does not need to be uncomfortable or cumbersome. When selecting FR clothing, choose apparel that is both appropriate for the type of work being done and comfortable as well. Safety is the number one concern, but there is never any need to choose FR apparel that is too hot, too cold, or that provides inadequate protection from wind, rain, or snow.