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