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Flame Resistant Apparel: Your Questions Answered

Apr 24, 2008
When it comes to flame resistant apparel, people just expect more. This expectation is realistic because apparel has been around for over 30 years providing the inherently flame resistant work wear you need to insure you simply get the most protection for your life and career. Whether you work in the gas, oil, mining, or chemical industry, you will discover the goodness of protective apparel.

When you need thermal protection chances are good you need this protection to insure you come to less harm on the jobsite. With this apparel, you can be assured of your safety being the main concern.

Here are a couple questions people ask when considering the purchase of flame resistant apparel or work wear.

What is the difference in flammability ratings in fabric? Aren't they all the same?

The Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA) of 1954 was administered by what we call today the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This FFA was designed to provide a standard by which the nation would base all flame resistant work wear through the testing process. This was intended to reduce the often deadly and injurious affects of accidents in the workplace cause by flames and fires.

There are three classes by which the fabric flammability is rated Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3. Class 1 is a normal flame resistant piece of work wear. This means the flame took more than 4 seconds to spread, and there was a greater chance of the fabric not catching fire with a life ignition of 1 second. Class 2 is an intermediate flame resistant rating. This means the spread time of the flame is between 4 and 7 seconds. Class 3 is going to be an intense burn taking less than 4 seconds. Very dangerous.

Today, Class 3 material is not allowed for apparel within the United States. Normal work wear is designed from a wide array of materials just like your casual, everyday clothing such as cotton, denim, nylon, or fleece. This is not appropriate for flame resistant apparel. Apparel is designed to be for work wear designs needing flame or fire resistant properties, and you will find the apparel is not made for everyday, casual clothing.

I am not sure what type or level of protection I need. What do I do?

Under the OSHA Act, there is a clause called General Duty. It is your employers direct responsibility to inform you of the hazards you will face on the worksite. It is also the responsibility of your employer to do all he or she can to insure your protection while on the job. This often means you will need flame resistant apparel should you find yourself getting too close to the fire.

Developing a plan of action is the best way for your employer and you to meet on the same page. You can have too much protection as well as too little. When you and your employer are on the same page, you will discover your safety is a team effort supported by all involved. You will be capable of working in the safe environment you deserve.
About the Author
Max Johnson of The Uniform Connection. Click for more Flame Resistant Apparel .
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