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.
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.