With seasons changing and temperatures rising, it's important to keep in mind how heat can impact worker's comfort, productivity and safety on the job. While taking breaks and staying hydrated can help keep you cool, it's also about choosing proper attire.
Depending on design and fabric construction, garments can be a cause of workers overheating. Now, there's a measurement that can help steer you away from garments prone to trapping heat. It's called Total Heat Loss (THL).
THL measures the amount of conductive and evaporative heat loss through a particular garment to help determine the maximum workload a person can maintain while wearing that garment. It combines the performance of several fabric properties, including air permeability and moisture wicking. Ultimately, when a garment has a high THL performance, it can help keep workers cool on the job and minimize risk associated with the impact of heat.
To help educate you on THL, we've rounded up the industry's most recent articles. Take a look and get up to speed on keeping workers cool and comfortable on the job.
Brite Star, a uniform rental company in South Texas and a distributor of TECGEN® FR, recently attended a STEPS meeting where TECGEN® FR exceeded expectations in a head-to-head burn test with competitive fabrics.
"When I saw the difference between the TECGEN® FR fabric and 88/12, I thought that it was impressive,"
A burn test is a demonstration on how well fabrics in FR garments hold up under extreme circumstances. In this case, a "smart" mannequin was outfitted in a variety of different fabrics including Nomex and 88/12 blended options. The mannequin is designed to evaluate the percentage of second- and third-degree burns a human could experience in a parallel real-life situation. This test is an extreme simulation of a fire directly engulfing a person for four seconds.
"When I saw the difference between the TECGEN® FR fabric and 88/12, I thought that it was impressive," said Richard McIntyre, Brite Star Services General Manager. "In the oil and gas industry, these guys are out in the sun and they usually seek an 88/12 option. But TECGEN® FR performed so much better, it really stood out, plus it's comfortable and breathable in the heat."
"At the very end of the burn demo, a used TECGEN® FR coverall was given to the group who was conducting the burn simulation to test," said McIntyre. "The mannequin in the TECGEN® FR coverall experienced 67% less third-degree burns than when it wore any of the 88/12 blended cotton fabrics tested here today."
If you're looking for FR garments, you need to know about the Comfort Triangle and what it means for keeping you cool and comfortable on the job. Comfort is about more than just the temperature on the site.
The Comfort Triangle refers to three key characteristics of FR garments, and how they can be balanced to provide comfort and protection on the job. Here is the breakdown of the triangle sides:
Lightweight: Legacy FR is heavy and bulky, often weighing workers down, limiting mobility and trapping heat. Lightweight garments allow workers to move more freely while remaining cool. Consider conducting a wear trial to determine how a lightweight garment's performance compares to your current FR garment.
Breathability: Garments that are breathable help keep heat from getting trapped. Select garments with a high total heat loss (THL) rating. Not familiar with total heat loss? Check out the Maintaining Body Temperature in Extreme Conditions article from Occupational Health & Safety Magazine, which explains the measurement and why it's important.
Moisture-management: Fabrics that make up FR garments can be designed with moisture-management properties. Even fabrics that are comfortable around the office (for example, cotton) can retain too much moisture and become uncomfortable or hazardous in extreme heat. Select garments with hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties that allow sweat to evaporate quickly, similarly to sports apparel.
Ultimately, finding a solution that balances all three of the above properties to help keep you comfortable on the job.