Workers need their FR clothing to provide protection from the arc and flame hazards while on the job as well as comfort, regardless of body type and fit. Sometimes it’s a matter of personal preference, sometimes it’s a specific combination, and it’s typically determined by a hazard analysis done by your company.
If you are working in a field that requires FR clothing, are a safety manager, or have customers that require FRC, you know that specific minimum requirements have to be met to provide proper protection from hazards unique to your industry.
Once the hazard and the level of protection that is needed have been identified, it’s important to consider comfort, style and fit when selecting flame resistant clothing.
National Safety Apparel offers FR workwear options that fit every industry and can be customized to address your hazards, fit, industry, task, needs and preference.
Types of FR Clothing
Depending on your industry, job, or task, you may need your FRC to perform beyond just protecting against fire hazards. Different types of FR provide protection against arc flash, flash fire, and other hazards. There are a variety of different tests that certify a garment’s protection against these different hazards. For garments that provide arc flash and/or flash fire protection, there are different tests that the clothing must pass to be compliant. There are also specific tests and standards for rainwear to be certified as flame resistant and arc rated, for example.
FR Arc Rated Clothing
All arc rated clothing is flame resistant, but not all flame resistant clothing is arc rated.
At minimum, FR provides protection that won’t contribute to burn injuries when worn correctly. However, workers including electrical contractors, utility workers and lineman as well as those working in power generation perform tasks on equipment that expose them to arc flash hazards. These individuals require both arc rated and FR protection.
Flame resistant clothing is designed to self-extinguish when exposed to flame. The garments do not contribute to burn injuries caused by the exposure to the flame, which means the fabric cannot melt or drip. Arc rated clothing provides protection against arc flash hazards, above and beyond basic flame resistance.
An arc flash event creates three issues: thermal, pressure waves and current flow. Thermal energy is high temperatures – the kind of high temperatures that can ignite clothing and burn skin in a fraction of a second. Arc rated and flame resistant clothing mitigates the effects of such an incident, assuming the proper PPE for the hazard is worn. NFPA 70E-2018 states that employees shall wear arc rated clothing where there is possible exposure to an electric arc flash that is above the incident energy level of 1.2 cal/cm2, which is enough for a second degree burn.
While not all FR is arc rated, each of National Safety Apparel’s FR brands are arc rated.
Flash Fire Clothing
A flash fire occurs when a flammable vapor, gas, or dust is suspended in air and then ignites. Flash fires have a rapidly moving flame that spreads from the point of ignition to the edge of the diffuse fuel. Exposure to a flash fire is expected to be three seconds or less due to how fast it moves. Though NFPA 2112-2018 replaced the term flash fire with “short duration thermal exposure” that short duration can be extremely dangerous and deadly without wearing proper protection.
As mentioned above, not all FR clothing is arc rated; similarly, not all flame resistant garments provide certified flash fire protection -- unless it is NFPA 2112 certified.
Independent certifying organizations maintain online databases that indicate the companies and products that are certified to meet the requirements of NFPA 2112. These databases also show the same information for fabric mills and component suppliers. If you want to verify that a supplier’s products are certified, ask them to send you a link to the online database. You can also compare the performance of 2112 certified clothing.
Find out more about NFPA 2112 and flash fire protection in our blog.
Most safety professionals in industries that potentially face flash fire hazards are identifying 2112 certified FRC options, and there are many good choices on the market that are comfortable and provide full coverage.
TECGEN® FR has exclusive patented fibers, fabrics and designs that make garments lightweight, breathable and provide flash fire protection and arc flash protection.
Hi-Vis FR Clothing
Some jobs may require flame, arc and/or flash fire protection along with a visibility requirement.
With workers in the multiple industries often being near roadway or other areas where increased visibility is required, finding hi-vis options that meet NFPA 2112, 70E and ANSI 107 provide the benefit of combining protection to increase compliance in one single layer.
Wearers could be out of compliance with standards such as NFPA 2112 and 70E if they wear a non-compliant hi-vis vest over top of FR clothing. The vest must be tested or clearly marked to meet the appropriate standards.
AR/FR Rain Gear
Arc-rated, FR rain gear is designed to protect workers from hazards including arc flash and visibility, while addressing the issue of having to work in rain and foul weather. Some arc rated, FR rain gear also provides dual hazard protection.
In order for rainwear to be deemed flame resistant and protective against arc flash, and/or flash fire, rain gear must go through a series of tests and pass or meet requirements of the tests set by standards for each hazard.
ASTM F1891 is the standard for flame resistant rainwear, which is a pass/fail standard that includes test method F1959 for arc rated FR fabrics as well as the vertical flame test (ASTM D6413-08).
If you are working in outdoor conditions that also require arc flash and flash fire protection, ASTM F2733 is the standard that FR rainwear must meet. ASTM F2733 performance requirements state that FR rainwear must be permanent and not degrade its performance, pass a breathability test (Moisture Vapor Transmission) if it is marketed as “breathable”, and go through a Leak Resistant test. The rainwear’s total body burn must not be more than 40% for flash fire protection, must be tested for thermal protection in accordance with ASTM F1930. It also states FR rainwear shall not drip or melt in accordance with ASTM D6413.
Electrical work on power lines, gas utilities and working on a rig involves working outdoors. Foul weather elements in addition to the job-related hazards can create worker discomfort and distraction.
Finding the best FR rain gear can assist in minimizing discomfort and distraction in the field. In addition to rainwear avoiding moisture build-up, breathability and moisture-wicking properties are also significant traits to look for when choosing foul weather gear.
Visibility hazards on the job may require flame resistant rain gear that meets ANSI 107 class standards. Meeting safety requirements and staying comfortable should factor into your decision when choosing the proper type of FR rainwear.
HYDROLITE FR™ and ARC H20™ are arc rated, flame resistant options from National Safety Apparel’s AR/FR rainwear category. Targo FR with GORE-TEX PYRAD® offers a rainwear options that provides flash fire and arc flash protection.
FR Clothing for Women
More women are joining the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) workforce today.
Of all the sectors of the energy industry, women are most strongly represented in the oil and gas industry – 57% according to OilAndGasIQ, while the remaining 43% are made up by the five other sectors answered in the survey.
Many brands have options that are billed as ‘one size fits all’ but when it comes to compliance and comfort, proper fit is essential. Improper fit can lead to a host of non-compliance issues and possible injury. FR clothing specifically designed for women address these comfort and compliance needs.
Truly, there is an FRC option to fit every preference.
Watch the NSA blog for more information as we deep-dive into the details and specifics of what each brand has to offer.