With a variety of FR garments on the market, it's important to know what to look for and what to look out for. Keep the following in mind:
1. Select a garment that meets all required industry codes. This is essential to protecting workers on the job. Some garments are even dual-certified to meet multiple regulations. To get up to speed on common codes in the electrical and oil and gas industries, refer to the TECGEN® FR Glossary.
2. Read the labels and know the jargon. Keep an eye out for warning signs such as misspelled labels that could indicate labels are not authentic. Garments that are not properly certified can pose risks to workers because they do not protect the body as well as legitimate garments. Just recently, an FR garment manufacturer was put on public notice due to fraudulent labels claiming that its coveralls were UL approved.
3. Assess garments based its benefits. Compare garments by referencing the Comfort Triangle comfort, breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities to ensure they are a good fit.
In the market for new (legit) FR garments? Find a distributor here.
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.
Maintaining Body Temperature in Extreme Conditions with FR Garments, OH&S
Keeping Cool On the Job with Appropriate FR Attire, Northeast ONG
Regulating Body Temperature with Appropriate FR Garments, Safety Decisions Magazine
Taking on the Heat with Flame-Resistant Garments, ISHN
For more tips on selecting a safety garment, learn about The Comfort Triangle.
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:
At TECGEN® brand, we always strive to push improvement and forward thinking in the flame-resistant (FR) garment industry. Our own Cortlandt Minnich, TECGEN® brand business development manager, weighed in on the industry's latest trends in protective clothing, during an interview with Safety+Health magazine assistant editor Tracy Haas.
Selecting a garment with the comfort triangle lightweight, breathability and moisture management in mind is essential for jobs requiring FR gear. Moisture management is becoming a key focus of manufacturers in the industry to help workers stay dry and comfortable.
"By incorporating inherent fibers that have hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties, manufacturers are able to design flame-resistant garments that perform like sports and outdoor apparel," said Minnich.
In addition to marketing materials, we also stressed the importance of establishing credibility through employee wear trials. Since employees are ultimately the ones who will benefit from the gear, they should be able to ensure that their safety needs will be met before ultimately deciding on a garment.
"Advertising claims are put to the ultimate test when employees actually wear the gear on the jobsite," he said.
We have curated a variety of frequently asked questions from our customers and hope these help expand your knowledge of FR garments.
Q: How long does the protection level of a FR garment last?
A: The only way to gauge the exact protection level in a FR garment is by testing per the 12,000+ American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. Unfortunately, these type of tests destroy the garment in the process. We recommend choosing a FR manufacturer that labels clothing properly and guarantees the FR protection for the entire life of the garment.
Q: What can I do to reduce heat-related challenges when wearing FR garments?
A: There are a number of things you are probably already doing e.g. regular breaks, hydration, rest in cool areas/shade. But one of the best ways to reduce heat stress is to specify FR that is lightweight, highly breathable and has moisture-management capabilities. Additionally, talk to your sales representative about the total heat loss of the garments you are interested in purchasing if heat stress is a concern.
Q: How should my flame resistant clothing be cleaned?
A: Every garment from different FR garment manufacturers is different, so sticking to the laundering instructions provided by the manufacturer is definitely important. For our garments, we recommend commercial laundering options to ensure proper care of your FR garments. However, if you plan to clean FR garments at home, they should be washed separately from other clothing items using standard brand name detergents without chlorine bleach or fabric softeners.
Q: Can I use insect repellent on my FR garments?
A: According to flame-resistance tests performed by the Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC), there is a potential hazard with the use of DEET products on FR garments. DEET is a flammable substance and can lower the flame-resistant qualities of FR garments and can actually cause the garments to burn, posing a risk of injury to workers.
Have more questions? The TECGEN® FR team is comprised of flame resistant clothing experts with decades of combined experience. Just click here and let us know how we can help!
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:
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
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