Building a flame-resistant (FR) garment program that meets all safety requirements and your personal needs is no easy task. The first step is the hazard assessment. Federal regulations require employers to assess the workplace to determine if hazards that require the use of personal protective equipment are present or are likely to be present. Conduct a walk-through survey to identify impacts, combustible dust, fire/heat, and chemical hazards, among others. Be sure to consider workplace, procedural, and environmental hazards.
Degree of protection
Once you’ve established the need for FR, determine the degree of protection required. Industry consensus standards can be used to guide selection decisions, based on specific industries.
Oil and gas operations face the hazard of flash fire. NFPA®2112 and NFPA® 2113 are the “go-to” industry consensus standards that address flash fire. NFPA® 2113 focuses on how organizations and employers — as well as individual wearers — should choose the correct garment based on certain criteria.
Electric utility workers are exposed to electrical arcs or arc flashes. In general Industry, workers exposed to hazards associated with electrical energy must be protected. NFPA 70E® requires AR (or arc-rated) clothing for any potential exposure above 1.2 cal/cm2, which equals the onset of a second-degree burn. Most general industry tasks will require CAT2 or higher. Carefully consider the actual risk associated with a job and match the protection category accordingly.
NFPA 70E® applies only to general industry electrical safety. For utilities, OSHA published 1910.269 & 1926.960, which state that power utilities workers must wear arc-rated clothing matching the potential threat determined by a hazard analysis.
Employers implementing an FR program are required by OSHA 1910.132(f)(1) and all industry consensus standards to provide training to each employee. According to OSHA, each employee who is required to wear FR should at least know when it is necessary, what exactly is necessary, the dos and don’ts of proper wear, what its limitations are, and how to properly care for it. NFPA® 2112 A.5.1.1 offers specific information employers must provide employees.
Follow the instructions provided by compliant garment manufacturers. A few basic rules apply across all relevant standards. More specific regulations about FR maintenance are defined in NFPA® 2113 and NFPA 70E®.
- Do not use any kind of bleach or peroxide
- Do not use any additive that could build up and impede FR performance
- Wash FR/AR garments separately
- Turn FR/AR garments inside out to help color retention and preserve appearance
- Use liquid detergent for best results
- Avoid the hottest temperature to reduce the impact of shrinkage
- For tough stains, apply liquid detergent or stain remover and soak garment
- For even tougher stains, some FR garments can be dry cleaned
- Tumble dry on low setting and do not over dry
- Rewash garments with lingering odor
- Never use DEET or any other flammable substances on FR/AR clothing.
- Any repairs must be made with fabric and findings that match the protection level of the original garment.