When worn correctly, flame-resistant (FR) clothing can provide lifesaving protection against a variety of workplace hazards, including arc flash, flash fires and molten metal splatter.
To help clarify some of the mistakes workers make in wearing FR, here is a list of the top five ways FR clothing is improperly worn. This information will help your workersreceive the full safety benefits of FR workwear – and it may even save their life.
- Wearing it with a non-FR outer layer: In bad weather, it may be tempting to wear a non-FR jacket over your regular FR clothing. Even if you are wearing flame-resistant clothing, a non-FR outer layer can still ignite and burn, putting you in danger. When faced with cold-weather conditions, it is important to invest in the proper FR outerwear.
- Wearing it with a non-FR synthetic under-layer: Performance T-shirts made from polyester or other synthetic materials are often worn to help with moisture management, but they are not flame resistant and can actually melt to the skin. Ideally, the under layer would be FR. This not only resolves the melting issue, but it also won’t ignite and continue to burn if accidentally exposed to the hazard.
- Rolling up sleeves: Rolling up your sleeves may seem like the perfect way to beat the heat; however, this leaves the arms exposed and should be avoided. This is particularly important for arc flash exposures, as the arms will likely be closest to the event and therefore see the most thermal energy. Instead, look for FR clothing made with lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics that provide a greater level of comfort without sacrificing safety.
- Unzipping coveralls or unbuttoning shirts: Just like rolling up your sleeves, unzipping or unbuttoning FR clothing can expose the skin or (as noted above) a non-FR under layer that could ignite and burn. Again, look for FR clothing made with lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics that provide a greater level of comfort without sacrificing safety.
- Not tucking in the shirttail: If the tail of your shirt is not properly tucked in, heat and flames can travel under the bottom of it and cause greater injury. Invest in FR clothing that’s purposely constructed with long shirttails to prevent this from happening.
Make sure your employees’ FR clothing is in compliance and ready to keep them safe.