FLAME RESISTANT CLOTHING

WHAT IS FLAME RESISTANT CLOTHING?

Flame resistant clothing refers to any clothing items that are designed and specifically manufactured to protect wearers from potential intermittent flames and thermal exposure.

The specific ways in which Flame resistant clothing is engineered to protect the wearer from injury due to flames. These clothing items do not easily catch fire, and even when they do, they are designed to self-extinguish. If you get exposed to a brief, irregular flame while wearing this clothing and your clothing catches fire, it will naturally extinguish itself. This ability avoids the wearer any risk of burn injury and can often provide the wearer with valuable time to escape the unsafe environment.

The use and availability of flame-resistant clothing has become much more common due to the continued development and updating of industry safety regulations and voluntary performance standards.


The importance of Flame Resistant clothing for those exposed to workplace hazards

Flame resistant clothing protects the wearer through the following attributes:

  •   Self-extinguishes or resists ignition
  •   Does not melt onto skin
  •   Provides thermal insulation from heat
  •   Resists breaking open and exposing skin
  •   Reduces burn injury and increases chances of survival         

PROFESSIONALS WHO MUST WEAR FLAME-RESISTANT CLOTHING?

If an employee works in environments where heat, fire or electrical injuries are a real possibility, the odds are good they should be wearing flame-resistant clothing. OSHA’s guidelines dictate more specifically who should be wearing flame-resistant clothing.

 There are three broad categories of workers who should wear flame-resistant clothing for protection, based on the type of hazard the worker will be exposed to while completing their work. Here are the three primary hazards.

Electric arc: People who are exposed to this hazard include electricians, as well as certain utility workers and others.

 Flash fire: This category includes pharmaceutical and chemical workers, as well as those who work in refineries and more. 

Combustible dust: The category covers workers in food processing plants, the paper and pulp industry, etc.

 

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRIMARY AND SECONDARY PROTECTION?

When reading or hearing about flame-resistant clothing, we may frequently hear the terms “primary protection” and “secondary protection.” What exactly do these terms mean? Does secondary protection offer less safety than primary protection?

The real difference between these two lies in the clothing’s intended usage and the level of protection it offers as a result of this intended usage. The following is a brief breakdown of the two levels of protection.  

PRIMARY PROTECTION

Primary protection refers to flame-resistant clothing that is designed to be worn during activities where the wearer will constantly be exposed to flames, radiant heat and potential molten substance splash. One easy example to point to is a firefighter’s gear. When out answering a call, the firefighter will be exposed to extreme conditions and will need the additional measures offered by primary protection gear.

SECONDARY PROTECTION

Secondary protection is designed for situations where the wearer may encounter exposure to intermittent hazards. This may still include radiant heat, molten substance splash and flames, but the odds are that these will not be constant hazards. Rather, they may appear briefly before disappearing again. In other words, the wearer of secondary protection is not likely to be in as much constant danger as the wearer of primary protection.