Safety is of the utmost importance at the workplace. More so, when it is in a hazardous sector such as construction, oil and gas industry, electricity, and utilities. Organizations in these industries are expected to provide their employees with fire-resistant personal protective equipment and other safety gear. Also known as flame-resistant (FR) personal protective equipment (PPE), these must adhere to the standards prescribed by the relevant regulatory agencies. FR apparel acts as a protective layer over skin and can provide a certain degree of protection to the wearer. It does not, however, fully safeguard from fire hazards.
Fire-Resistant Vs Fire-Retardant
Quite often, fire-resistant PPE is confused with fire-retardant PPE. Fire-resistant PPE is made of fibers that are slow to ignite on exposure to fire. They can also withstand repeated cleaning or washes and never lose their fire-resistant properties. Meanwhile, fire-retardant garments are made of non fire retardant fibers that are then treated with chemicals that gives it it’s FR properties. Fire-retardant garments tend to lose their unique properties much more quickly. Thus, they tend to be more affordable than fire-resistant protective gear.
The Right Type of Fire-Resistant PPE
There is no one solution when it comes to FR gear. The type of safety apparel required will depend on the unique hazards of your sector of work. A comprehensive workplace risk assessment can help you determine the type of protection required. For instance, the requirements of workers in the oil and gas sector will vary significantly from those in the construction industry. Also, fire-resistant PPE apparel is available in a wide variety of materials including naturally fire-resistant fibers and those that have been chemically treated to be fire-resistant. Each of these fibers and the fabrics made from them come with a set of pros and cons. You will need to evaluate and decide on which one is best suited to your specific requirements. Apart from the scope of work, durability, your budget, and maintenance plan will all have an impact on the type of FR gear you opt for.
Wearing Fire-Resistant Gear
In order to derive optimal safety benefits of FR garments, it is important to give some thought to the clothes to be worn under the PPE. It is essential that garments worn under fire-resistant PPE have non-melting properties. The primary benefit of this is that this will act as yet another layer of FR protection. So, in the event the first or outer layer of PPE is damaged in a fire hazard, this second layer will offer some amount of protection. In addition, wearing layers of garments creates an air insulation pocket between two layers that adds to the wearer’s safety. Comfort and fit will also play an important role in ensuring employee compliance with the organization’s safety policy.
- Comfort – There is no reason why PPE should not be comfortable to the wearer. Reputed brands use high quality materials and these can keep the wearer comfortable even in adverse weather conditions.
- Fit – No one likes a bad fit and it’s no different when it comes to fire-resistant PPE. Unless the garment is the right size, wearing it can prove cumbersome. This can deter workers from donning protective gear regularly and thus, put them at risk for hazards. Garments that facilitate ease of movement should be preferred here.
- Topnotch Accessories – When buying fire-resistant PPE, it becomes essential to check the quality of accessories used. For instance, durable zippers, reinforced snaps and pockets, are just some of the items to lookout for.
Caring for Fire-Resistant PPE
Fire-resistant garments can be quite expensive and purchasing new ones often can cause quite a dent in your annual budget. Choosing quality garments is one way of ensuring that you do not have to keep purchasing new FR apparel. Caring for fire-resistant PPE in the recommended manner and adequate maintenance is another way of increasing its longevity.
Protective clothing must be laundered the right way to preserve its unique characteristics. For instance, apparel used in the oil and gas industry likely have a layer of hydrocarbons over it. Reputed commercial laundry programs such as those offered by Goodfish can help eliminate these hydrocarbons without compromising the fabric. Failure to remove such flammable components from the garment’s surface can put employees at risk of being injured.
Being armed with all the information pertaining to fire-resistant PPE can help you make an informed decision about the safety plan of your organization. Picking the right type of protective work gear and adhering to the government regulations on workplace hazard prevention will help you ensure a safe and welcoming atmosphere for every employee. Take it to the next level and select a vendor who not only manufactures the workwear but cleans it as well.