Flame resistant apparel is appropriate for the flame and electric arc conditions to which a worker could be exposed. As heat levels increase, these materials will not melt, but they can ignite and continue to burn.
Flame resistant clothing is made from inherently non-flammable fabrics and materials. The materials have a chemical structure that is naturally resistant to flames. These types of fabrics may catch fire, but they will either self-extinguish or burn extremely slowly. The most important function of these materials and fabrics is to prevent the further spread of fire.
Fire resistant is a term synonymous with flame-resistant. If you hear this term used in place of flame-resistant, don’t be confused. They mean exactly the same thing, and it is correct to use them interchangeably.
Fire retardant fabrics, on the other hand, are those that have undergone chemical treatment to acquire some of the same properties that flame resistant fabrics have inherently. As a result of these chemical procedures, flameretardant fabrics become selfextinguishing and slow-burning. Any type of fabric may be used, but it must undergo this treatment before it can be considered flame retardant.
Clothing made from 100% cotton or wool may be acceptable if its weight is appropriate for the flame and electric arc conditions to which a worker could be exposed. As heat levels increase, these materials will not melt, but they can ignite and continue to burn. The amount of heat required to ignite these materials is dependent upon a number of factors, including the weight, texture, weave, and colour of the material. This type of clothing does not comply with the “269” standard if it can ignite (and continue to burn) under the electric arc and flame 79 exposure conditions found at the workplace. If they do not choose FR clothing, employers need to make a determination of whether or not the clothing worn by the worker is acceptable under the conditions to which he or she could be exposed. FR clothing is acceptable with respect to the OSHA apparel requirements (OSHA, 2018).
There are three broad categories of workers who should wear flame-resistant clothing for protection, based on the type of hazard to which the worker will be exposed while completing their work. Here are the three primary hazards.
People who are exposed to electric arc hazards include electricians, as well as certain utility workers and others.
This category includes pharmaceutical and chemical workers, as well as those who work in refineries and more.
The category of combustible dust covers workers in food processing plants, the paper and pulp industry, etc.