We've been buzzing all month about our new women's line, because we know the time is now to ensure women are outfitted safely and comfortably in the workplace. As you may have seen in Safety + Health magazine's September issue, we want to share some insight with the industry about designing an appropriate women's FR garment program.
The article highlights three key considerations when including women in your FR garment program:
Next week, catch the TECGEN® brand team at the National Safety Council Expo (NSC) in San Diego! Attendees will have the opportunity to see our latest innovations in FR garments at booth #2225, from September 15 17.
And for our big announcement...
We're officially launching our new women's line at the show! The new uniform shirts are available in khaki, light blue, navy and grey. Coveralls are available in navy, light blue, khaki and grey. Both the uniform shirt and coveralls are available in sizes ranging from extra-small to plus-sizes. With the addition of the women's line, we now offer both men's and women's shirts and coveralls that are the lightest-weight woven FR uniform shirts and coveralls on the market. The garments are dual-certified for NFPA 70E (HRC 2) and NFPA 2112 (Flash Fire).
If you're attending NSC, we want to meet you! Contact us or leave a comment below to set up an appointment!
At TECGEN® brand, we know that FR apparel has to be functional more than it is fashionable. But what's functional for some, may not be functional for others. We decided to ask women: what do you dislike about existing unisex FR garments?
With a wide range of responses, we set out on a mission to design women's FR apparel that could help eliminate the inconvenience and hazard of wearing poorly fitted FR apparel on the job. The results?
Our new FR garments for women are designed for an accurate fit, that is comfortable, breathable and functional. They also incorporate a consistant, uniform style for cohesiveness with existing FR garments on the market.
The new women's collection features a uniform shirt and coverall that balance the total comfort triangle: lightweight, breathability and moisture management. The collection is available in all size ranges from extra small to plus sizes.
After a debate that spanned several months, the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on February 4, 2013 that all workers within 75 feet of an oil or natural gas well bore in Wyoming must dress in flash fire resistant clothing.
You can read more about the ruling by clicking this link from the Casper Star Tribune.
A primary concern from many smaller and mid size drilling companies that oppose the ruling, is that the cost of flame resistant clothing is too high. Larger drilling companies, for the most part, have policies that mandate the use of FR clothing already.
While the financial cost of FR clothing is substantially higher than non-FR work wear, companies should also consider factors such as comfort. Increased weight and inability to wick sweat from the skin are common downfalls to less expensive FR garments. These comfort deficiencies can lead to increased levels of heat stress, and in turn can possibly cause lost time accidents and lost production time. Furthermore, lack of comfort breeds non-compliance. Workers who aren't comfortable have a tendency to "cheat" - rolling up sleeves, unbuttoning shirts, or simply taking their FR off completely. When considering flame resistant clothing for your company, research products that provide a high level of comfort and compliance - and you'll easily provide a greater return on your investment.
TECGEN SELECT® Flame and Flash Fire Resistant Shirts and Coveralls are 5.5oz/sq yard and are NFPA 2112 and NFPA 70E HRC 2 certified (ATPV = 8.0 cal/cm2).
-The TECGEN Talker
At TECGEN SELECT®, our team works with many companies who are looking to replace their current flame resistant clothing, and also are equipping their crews with FR clothing for the first time. Here's some quick answers to some common questions we've received:
How long does the protection in a flame resistant garment last?
The only way to gauge the exact protection level in a FR garment is by testing per ASTM standards. Unfortunately, these types of tests destroy the garment in the process. Choose FR manufacturers that label their clothing properly and guarantee the protection for the life of the garment.
Can I use insect repellent on my FR clothing?
DEET-based insect repellents have been shown to increase the duration of a flame when applied to arc rated and flash fire resistant clothing. Therefore, TECGEN SELECT® does not recommend the use of DEET-based repellents on our arc rated clothing.
FR clothing is way too hot, what can I do to reduce heat stress?
The most effective ways to reduce heat stress include taking regular breaks, drinking plenty of water, and seek shade or cool areas whenever possible. In addition, utilizing FR clothing that offers lightweight fabric, high breathability, and moisture-management capabilities can also help reduce the risk of heat stress. TECGEN SELECT® is a fantastic option for those seeking cooler FR clothing alternatives.
How should my flame resistant clothing be cleaned? Can I do it at home?
Generally speaking, most flame resistant garments should be washed separately, and without chlorine bleach or fabric softeners. "Normal" detergents are typically okay to use at home. TECGEN SELECT® provides each of our customers with proper laundering instructions, as do most reputable manufacturers. There are also many commercial laundering solutions available and these companies are thoroughly trained on the proper care for FR garments.
Do you have any specific questions for us? The TECGEN SELECT® team is comprised of flame resistant clothing experts with decades of combined experience. Just click here and let us know how we can help!
-The TECGEN Talker
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 1506: The 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 2112: This 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
I've been speaking recently with many folks in the apparel distribution business who have heard of FR Clothing, but don't sell it. There's three primary reasons for a uniform distributor to consider dealing flame resistant clothing: growing needs, growing awareness, and growing revenue.
Growing Needs. Since 2010, OSHA has levied fines in the oil & gas industry on companies who encounter accidents and whose employees aren't outfitted in flash fire resistant clothing. When considering that the US Department of Labor is expecting 10% growth in jobs that require NFPA 2112 protective clothing, and the expansion of oil and gas drilling from North Dakota to the Gulf Coast - the market needs are growing at a steady rate.
Growing Awareness. The other growing segment of the flame resistant clothing market is manufacturing. Manufacturing companies outfit their electrician, engineering, and maintenance personnel in FR, sometmes mistaken as "flame retardant" clothing. Here, the safety concern is arc flash protection against momentary blasts of electricity that cause severe burns and in some cases, death. NFPA 70E illustrates five levels of protection that FR clothing can provide. A voluntary standard, it's been estimated that only 60% of the market is in compliance. However, the awareness of arc rated clothing has increased steadily among safety personnel over the last several years and the remaining number of facilities out of compliance presents another opportunity for apparel dealers.
Growing Revenue. Compared to medical apparel, hospitality, and non-FR work clothing flame resistant clothing is a much higher-end product in terms of cost. To produce this clothing, manufacturers must invest heavily in testing to ensure fabrics meet the various standards. US-based fabric, like TECGEN SELECT®, also brings higher cost due to using world-class facilities within our own borders. With that said, dealers that are well-educated in FR clothing and can bring their expertise to the customer often have the most success earning larger revenue dollars per unit while still maintaining profitable margins. A distributor intrested in selling FR clothing should learn as much as possible from manufacturers and their own resources alike. Afterward, the market will take care of the rest!
TECGEN SELECT® provides expert flame resistant clothing education and training with a team of experts that have decades of combined experience in the FR clothing market.
-The TECGEN Talker
Here at TECGEN®, Our mission of exceeding compliance standards and quality expectations for flame-resistant garments is woven into the TECGEN® fiber itself. The patented, bi-regional inherently flame-resistant fiber has a high density carbonaceous shell that absorbs incredible heat, yet allows the comfortable inside fiber to remain untouched. It also contains an acrylic core that allows the fiber to maintain good textile properties. The beauty of TECGEN® fiber is that the fiber can be blended or spun into normal textiles.
It started with TECGEN XTREME® non-structural turnout gear. Dual certified for NFPA 1951 (technical rescue) and NFPA 1977 (wildland firefighting), TECGEN XTREME® garments allow your body to maintain cooler temperatures, decreasing the likelihood of heat stress and heart attacks on the job. With three times the THL of turnout gear, XTREME protective apparel combats heat-related fire-fighting risks while providing the same protection as heavier gear.
Through our unwavering commitment, we expanded to offer garments to other relevant industries. Industrial fire resistant and flame retardant wear is classically regarded as bulky and uncomfortable; however, it is mandated wear in the electric, oil, and gas industries. So we put our premier fire-resistant fiber to work and wove a new blend that is changing the way every day wearers perceive personal protective gear. By combining light weight, fast moisture wicking technology and exceptional breathability, TECGEN SELECT® product lines are the next generation in quality industrial FR wear.
TECGEN SELECT® flame resistant clothing products are known for their low fabric weight, high garment breathability, and fast moisture wicking capability. The lightest product on the market dual certified for NFPA 70e HRC 2 arc flash protection and NFPA 2112 flash fire resistance, our apparel exceeds protective standards by utilizing the same high quality inherently flame-resistant fiber found in XTREME gear.
-The TECGEN Talker
Flame resistant (FR) clothing has become a product category which many safety and health professionals are very familiar with. EHS managers in a wide variety of industries are now educated about this type of protective clothing as the adoption of standards set forth by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)70E, NFPA 2112, and NESC (National Electric Safety Code) have drastically increased in the last two decades. The good news for industrial safety professionals is there are more options in FR clothing today than ever before to comply with these standards. This leaves a simple question: which FR clothing option is best for a specific company? The only way to determine the optimal FR clothing choice for any facility is to administer a proper wear trial. This article will discuss best practices to ensure a wear trial results in the best flame resistant clothing choice for industrial workers.
Evaluate Protection Levels Needed
FR Clothing varies greatly in the protection levels provided, from fabric to fabric and from garment to garment. The first step in the process is to clearly understand the hazards workers face in a particular facility or working environment. NFPA 70E, the code for electrical safety in the workplace, classifies these hazards in five Hazard Risk Categories (HRC), ranging from 0-4. The Arc Thermal Protection Value (ATPV) of a particular garment determines which HRC level the garment falls into. A thorough arc-flash analysis will indicate which arc-rated garments qualify to provide the safety protection workers must have in a particular facility. NFPA 2112 on the other hand is the guide for which EHS Managers in Oil, Gas, and other flash-fire prone industries use to determine their FR clothing options. This standard is much more straightforward, as a garment either passes or fails the standard depending on the predicted body burn percentage a worker is exposed to while wearing the clothing. There are a myriad of resources and services available to S&H Professionals to help narrow the FR clothing choices for a wear trial based on safety requirements.
Evaluate Working Environment and Tasks
Once the required protection levels are established, the next step in narrowing choices for a FR clothing wear trial is to evaluate the environment and tasks of the workers required to wear the garments. Are the conditions hot and are workers exposed to heat-related illness? If so, seek lightweight and breathable fabric options to minimize the risk of heat stress. Do workers require several tools or devices to complete tasks? Research garment options that offer utilities such as deep pockets, loops, and easy access. What durability is needed? A maintenance worker who performs welding and grinding duties has different durability needs than an electrician performing his or her tasks in the same plant. It's common to see different needs based on environment and tasks within the same facility. EHS Professionals can administer wear trials with garments that meet all needs if the safety requirements are met by researching all FR manufacturers.
Determine Best Employees To Participate In The Wear Trial
Once FR clothing options are funneled based on protection level, working environment, and tasks required by the wearers, choose the best workers to participate. The ideal participants have experience wearing flame resistant or arc-rated clothing, are knowledgeable about all tasks and varying environments their co-workers are faced with, and are known for providing valuable feedback to management on a variety of topics. They are opinionated and don't hesitate to give their sincerest points of view. These veterans have experience and are respected by management and co-workers alike for the work they do and the leadership they provide. These types of individuals are the best candidates to provide unbiased results for Safety Personnel to evaluate at the conclusion of the wear trial.
Administer The Wear Trial In An Unbiased Fashion
Once garment selections and participants are set, produce the most accurate wear trial results by establishing a few parameters. Choose a timeline as an example a drilling contractor in South Texas should run the wear trial in the intense heat of July instead of the cold month of January to evaluate the comfort of workers in high temperatures. If durability is a great concern, choose to do the wear trial during a plant turnaround when heavy mechanical duties are required. Make the timeline succinct by establishing a specific wear trial start and end date. The participants chosen should wear the garment selections one day at a time and should wear and wash each garment choice the same number of times within the given timeframe. It's important that each participant wears all garment choices if employee A wears one garment and employee B wears another, accurate results cannot be achieved. Lastly, select a measurement device. Most reputable U.S.-based FR manufacturers should provide a standardized survey which allows management to evaluate the results. Otherwise, develop an internal survey that gives precise metrics based on a specific working environment. Combine these metrics with subjective feedback from the participants to gather the end results.
Decide On The Product Of Choice
The results provided by the wear test survey, combined with the verbal feedback provided by the participants will reveal the best FR clothing options for an industrial company. Safety Management and Purchasing should then evaluate the final selections' total cost of ownership for a period of several years by taking garment replacements, employee turnover, and longevity of the garments into consideration. The cost of FR clothing can vary greatly depending on fabric, comfort value, and garment life. The flame resistant clothing choice a company ultimately makes, however, depends on the value it places on the safety, comfort, and feedback of its employees.
-The TECGEN Talker
For those involved in the FR world, whether on the manufacturing, distribution, or end-user sides, word has quickly spread regarding the recent federal court ruling deeming the memo issued by OSHA in 2010 as "improper rule making."
Here's a quick history of what has led up to this ruling:
So, where does this leave the oil & gas industries as it pertains to the use of flame-resistant clothing? It remains an unknown at this point. Perhaps OSHA will conduct the formal rule making process and enact a law that reflects upon the memo issued in 2010. Or, maybe the ruling will stand as the last word when it comes to this issue. Regardless, employers will still need to determine if FRC is needed on a day-to-day basis by conducting a proper and formal hazard analysis.
My opinion: the use of flame retardant coveralls, FRC, flame resistant clothing, or however you choose to use the term - has become engrained in the safety culture of these industries. Many of the companies we speak with in the drilling industries have built budgets for the expenditure, their employees have accepted protective clothing as a part of their daily PPE, and these end users are now seeking FR technology that will provide an advantage in comfort compared to the FRC they were forced to purchase two years ago.
-The TECGEN Talker
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