Flame resistant clothing - should you be wearing it to work?
Hint: If you work around combustibles - the answer is YES.
Flame resistant (FR) workwear is a type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
It provides protection to people working in various industries that are exposed to combustibles.
What does FR workwear actually do?
FR workwear is made to provide a barrier against flames & insulation against heat.
While FR workwear can burn when exposed to an open flame (it’s not ‘fireproof’), it stops burning as soon as the source of combustion is removed.
Essentially, as long as the flame is no longer in contact with the clothing, it will self-extinguish.
Why is this important?
Clothing that is not flame resistant will continue to burn until it is extinguished or until all the material has been consumed & there is nothing left to burn. This can worsen injury.
Similarly, non-flame resistant clothing may have components that actually conduct heat or electricity toward the skin.
Non-flame resistant workwear can also melt onto the skin & increase the extent of a burn injury while FR workwear does not.
"FR workwear is extremely helpful in the event of a flash fire or arc flash as it’s self extinguishing feature gives the wearer valuable escape time."
Who should be wearing FR clothing?
FR workwear/clothing is recommended for anyone who works with or around combustibles.
This most commonly includes industries such as:
- Electricity production & distribution
- Metal smelting & casting
- Petrochemical processing
- Manufacturing using highly charged equipment, or involving flammable vapours
How to wear FR clothing
"Like all things, in order to be effective, FR clothing must be used properly."
For maximum protective effect you should:
- Always button, zip or snap your FR clothing to the highest possible point.
- Never wear FR clothing with sleeves rolled up - this leaves your arms exposed to hazards.
- Always secure shirt or coverall wrist cuffs to further protect your arms.
- Always tuck shirt tails into your pants.