As more solutions and features become available for flame resistant foul weather gear, selecting a garment can become complicated. To help simplify the process, we’ve outlined the applications, hazards, and fabric technologies that will help you determine the best selection.
This blog series has been adapted from the Selecting Arc Rated Flame Resistant Foul Weather Gear Webinar.
Applications: Options for Arc-Rated FR Protection from the Elements
Do you know what occupation works in an environment where they need protection from temperatures that can be three times as hot as the surface of the sun and subzero in the same day?
In industrial applications, it's the electrical worker. An arc flash can be up to three times hotter than the surface of the sun at the source and it can happen in an outdoor environment with storm conditions, rainy, windy, and snowy or subzero temperatures. With this level of unpredictability, it’s important to be knowledgeable on what level of protection and comfort Foul Weather Gear offers based on your specific work conditions, hazards and budget.
FR Foul Weather Gear vs. FR Rain Gear
Innovative fabric technologies have prompted a new category, FR foul weather gear, because people who work outdoors face all types of challenging weather. In some parts of the country, it’s possible to experience all four seasons in the same day! FR Rain gear is something that you would put on only when it's raining and you would take it off as soon as possible - usually as a result of the garment being hot and uncomfortable.
Foul weather gear is unique in that it’s a comfortable garment to wear for extended periods of time and adapts to all weather conditions. With new flame resistant fabric technologies that are available today, workers can achieve protection from cool to extreme cold, wind, rain and snow, all in the same garment.
While a quality outer layer is essential for foul weather, for complete foul weather protection and comfort you need a good system that starts from the inside out. Protecting yourself from foul weather means a combination of:
- Light, loose layers
- A moisture wicking layer against skin
- Outer layer with wind and rain protection
- Stay Dry
Dressing in this way will help keep you comfortable and protected. The best place to start is with a base layer. Ideally, your base layer should pull moisture away from the surface of your skin (because you want to get that moisture out and away) and push it out to the outside of the garment so that it can dry. Next, you want an outer layer that is highly breathable so the moisture can evaporate out.
Finally, you want an outer layer that is windproof and waterproof so you can maintain your body temperature. When it's too hot or too cold, the body's main focus is to maintain core body temperature, and since that's where the majority of your energy is spent, you don’t want to expend that unnecessarily. Having a garment that works for you means you maintain that energy.
These layering steps create a system to stay dry provided you pay attention to the fabric makeup of the clothing. For example, Hydrophilic fibers, like cotton, should not be used alone. Clothing that incorporates specific moisture control fibers are your best line of defense. These include Hydrophilic fibers that pull water away from the body and Hydrophobic fibers that push that moisture to the surface. When you are exposed to weather elements without the proper protection you are more likely to exhibit decreased performance and productivity due to discomfort. Following this layer formula provides comfortable protection so you can work without distraction.
A trend among companies is opting for a garment that is durable and high quality to withstand multiple uses over time as opposed to a disposable option. Choosing one long-lasting product means less money spent frequently replacing a subpar garment. Not only does that calculate out to a savings over time, but it can also be a green choice, making a smaller carbon footprint with less waste.
The HYDROlite FR Hi-Vis Storm Jacket with GORE-TEX PYRAD® fabric
What do Workers Want: Comfortable FR with Protection
The goal of all protective gear is to improve worker safety. Safety can be enhanced by eliminating the distraction of physical discomfort. Benefits of selecting gear that delivers superior comfort include:
- Improved Productivity
- Improved Safety
- Worker acceptance
- Worker retention
Comfort is a driving trend in the flame-resistant clothing category and for good reason, improved safety and productivity. When you are not distracted by physical discomfort you are better able to focus on the task at hand and follow safety practices.
This blog series has been adapted from the National Safety Apparel webinar: Selecting Arc Rated Flame Resistant Foul Weather Gear in partnership with Safeopedia. You can view the full presentation and power point as well as additional Q&A and resources at:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dionne Murray brings more than thirty years of experience in safety product knowledge and training. Starting in the family business, Safety & Supply Company in the 80s, Dionne developed her passion for product knowledge and training. She served the industry on the Washington State Construction Safety Council, ASSE and Labor & Industry. She has conducted training programs in fall protection, respiratory fit testing, gas detection and calibration and hearing conservation and has assisted users in many industries in proper selection and application of fall protection systems, gas detection systems, arc-rated / flame resistant clothing and rainwear and high visibility safety apparel. Dionne joined National Safety Apparel in 2013, bringing her passion and knowledge for High Visibility and FR fabrics to a Product Manager position.
Today, as Senior Product Manager for High Visibility and Rainwear at National Safety Apparel, Dionne develops new products, provides field sales support and product training. With her team, she collaborates to improve customer experiences by providing solutions to the ever-changing needs in flame resistant and standard workwear high-visibility and rainwear. Dionne is currently serving on the ISEA High Visibility Products Group (ANSI 107 Committee) and the ASTM F23 Committee on Personal Protective Clothing & Equipment.