When FR May Not Necessarily Mean Safety

November 1, 2012

Per usual, this entry refelcts upon some insight I gained while on the road.  I visited the National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expo which was held last week in Orlando, FL.  This event is a great venue for distributors, suppliers, and partners to learn about new products, create ways to increase brand awareness, and build business within the industrial safety industry.  It's a large expo, and of course nearly all the prominent U.S. based flame resistant clothing manufaturers were present.

Also present was a very, very large contingent of foreign fabric and garment manufacturers. There's no doubt that in today's age of globalization, many of our everyday products are manufactured overseas.  FR Clothing is no exception.  For instance, TECGEN SELECT® Brand Fabric is 100% USA made, however our garments are assembled in the Dominican Republic.  Our product label reflects this.

This brings me to the point of today's blog.  Labeling on Flame and Flash Fire Resistant Clothing - as well as Arc Rated Clothing, should explain to you the certifications the garment has acheived so you can be sure wearers are protected from the particular hazards they face.  As I was checking out some of the garments made from unknown manufacturers from China, I noticed "NFPA Certified"  was printed on the label.  This type of labeling is misleading, and frankly dead wrong.  "NFPA Certified" is a way to mislead a buyer as there are a myriad of NFPA certifications that pertain to work clothing.  If I were a safety director, I would be extremely hesitant to allow my workers to wear clothing that is so poorly labeled. Here's a basic rundown on what you should be looking for as it pertains to FR Clothing labels:

ASTM F 1506The Standard Performance Specification for Flame Resistant Textile Materials for Wearing Apparel for Use by Electrical Workers Exposed to Momentary Electric Arc and Related Thermal Hazards.

NFPA 70E:  The standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace contains the hierarchy of hazard risk categories (HRC) ranging from 0-4.  These categories are dependent upon the ATPV (arc thermal protection value) of a particular gament.  TECGEN SELECT® currently boasts the lightest weight fabric (5.5oz per square yard) to achieve HRC 2 certification with an ATPV of 8.0 cal/cm2. 

NFPA 2112This Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire specifies the minimum performance requirements and test methods for flame-resistant fabrics and components and the design and certification requirements for garments for use in areas at risk from flash fires.

Whether your company is interested in protecting workers from electric arc flashes, flash fire, or combustible dust hazards, looking for these well-known certifications on the product label of your FR clothing selections will ensure an investment is made in protection, and not a mystery.

-The TECGEN Talker

Posted in Flame Resistant Clothing. Tagged as ARC rated clothing, ASTM, ATPV, combustible dust, electric arc flash, Fire Resistant Clothing, Flame Resistant Clothing, flash fire, FR Clothing, HRC, hrc 2, NFPA, NFPA 2112, NFPA 70E.