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FR Workwear FAQs

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What is meant by the term FR (Flame Resistant)?

It refers to the ability of a material to self-extinguish upon the removal of an ignition source. FR is a short name for Flame Resistant Protective Apparel. Flame Resistant Clothing is NOT fire proof.

FR (Flame-Resistant) clothing is designed as a means for protection against potentially fatal flash fire and arc flash environments. They provide the worker a few seconds of necessary escape time, while preventing clothing ignition. The majority of severe and fatal burn injuries are due to the individual's clothing igniting and continuing to burn, not by the exposure itself. The goal for any FR manufacturer or wearer is to ultimately increase the probability of survival. No garment or fabric is available in primary protection as fail-safe insurance. In other words, if an accident does take place it is most likely that some injury will occur; however, the design of both fabrics and apparel is to lower the risk of injury and possible death.

Who needs FR clothing?

Anyone who works with a risk of ignition in the workplace such as a foundry or refinery environment, dealing with welding, firefighters, any one in an aluminum casing or petrochemical industry, as well as electrical utility and the chemical, oil, and mining industries.Dozens of industries may potentially benefit from the use of FR clothing. Some of them include: electric utilities, electrical contractors, refineries, drilling companies, chemical companies, manufacturing companies, and construction companies. Wherever a known flash fire or arc flash hazard exists, FR Clothing should be worn. Many industries beyond those mentioned above are affected by arc flash, flash fire, and low visibility hazards.

What is NFPA 2112?

NFPA 2112 provides minimum performance criteria and sets guidelines for minimum design, performance, certification requirements and test methods for Flame Resistant garments for use in areas at risk from flash fires. The standard calls for flash fire testing to be conducted at three seconds with a pass/fail rate of 50% total body burn under ASTM F1930 testing protocols.

What is an ARC rating?

ARC rating is a value of the energy necessary to pass through any given fabric to cause with 50% probability a second or third degree burn. This value is measured in calories/cmThe necessary Arc Rating for an article of clothing is determined by a Hazard/Risk Assessment and the resulting HRC. Usually measured in terms of ATPV or EBT.The ARC rating determines the protective characteristics of the fabric. The higher the ARC rating value the greater the protection. When the product is sold to protect workers from arcing faults, clothing manufacturer are required in indicate the ARC rating.

What is ATPV? EBT?

ATPV stands for Arc Thermal Protective Value, which is a rating of the Arc burn protection capability of a garment. The HIGHER the Arc Rating, the more protection a garment gives because it has a higher resistance to catching on fire. The ATPV is expressed in calories per cm2 and represents the thermal exposure from an electric arc that will create a second-degree burn in human tissue. If the ATPV cannot be calculated because the fabric breaks open, the energy causing the fabric to break open is expressed as the Energy of Breakopen Threshold (EBT). The higher the value the greater the protection.

What is a hazard risk category (HRC)?

Hazard risk category is a number representing a "range" of arc ratings for easy reference. These categories were first defined by NFPA 70E Table 130.7(c)(11). HRC categories are the level of arc flash protection clothing you must wear to protect against a minimum level of incident energy measured in calories per centimeter squared andallow for an easy-to-remember guide for employers to standardize on acceptable arc ratings for the hazard level employees might be exposed to while working on specific tasks. Here is the breakdown of Hazard Risk Categories and their corresponding Arc Ratings:


Hazard Risk
Category
Clothing Description
(Typical number of clothing layers is given in parentheses)
Required Minimum
Arc Rating
of PPE Cal/cm2
HRC 1 FR shirt and FR pants or FR coveralls (1 layer) 4
HRC 2 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants (1 or 2 layers)

8

HRC 3 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants plus FR coveralls, or Cotton underwear plus two FR coveralls (2 or 3 layers) 25
HRC 4 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants plus multilayer flash suit (3 or more layers) 40

What key points should I consider when choosing FR garments?

Your review of fabrics should consider thermal protection, durability, static resistance, comfort, durability, stability, appearance, ease of laundry maintenance, and cost. Verify with your employer the Hazard Rating Category Level and ARC ratings needed for your particular job.

Who decides the minimum FR standards needed for my job?

Only your employer can tell you what is required. It's the employer's responsibility to identify risk and hazards in the workplace with a hazard analysis and seek out appropriate protective garments and equipment for protection of workers.

How do normal fabrics react to ignition?

Normal fabrics and garments will burn away from the point of ignition with an increasing rate of flame spread and continue to burn after removal of the ignition source. Normal fabrics will continue to burn until they are extinguished or all flammable material is consumed.

How do FR fabrics react to ignition?

Flame-resistant (FR) fabrics and garments are intended to resist ignition, prevent the spread of flames away from the immediate area of high heat impingement, and to self-extinguish almost immediately upon removal of the ignition source.

What is meant by the term Arc Flash?

An arc flash is an explosive release of energy caused by an electrical arc. It can result from either a phase-to-phase or phase-to-ground fault caused by accidental contact with an electrical system, a buildup of dust, or an improper work procedure. Arc flashes can reach temperatures of 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit. If an arc flash occurs, arc flash clothing can help minimize resulting damage.

What are HRC Ratings for Arc Flash Clothing?

Hazard risk category is a number representing a "range" of arc ratings for easy reference. These categories were first defined by NFPA 70E Table 130.7(c)(11). HRC categories are the level of arc flash protection clothing you must wear to protect against a minimum level of incident energy measured in calories per centimeter squared and allow for an easy-to-remember guide for employers to standardize on acceptable arc ratings for the hazard level employees might be exposed to while working on specific tasks. Here is the breakdown of Hazard Risk Categories and their corresponding Arc Ratings:


Hazard Risk
Category
Clothing Description
(Typical number of clothing layers is given in parentheses)
Required Minimum
Arc Rating
of PPE Cal/cm2
HRC 1 FR shirt and FR pants or FR coveralls (1 layer) 4
HRC 2 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants (1 or 2 layers)

8

HRC 3 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants plus FR coveralls, or Cotton underwear plus two FR coveralls (2 or 3 layers) 25
HRC 4 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants plus multilayer flash suit (3 or more layers) 40

What is a flash hazard analysis?

NFPA 70E describes a flash hazard analysis as "a study investigating a worker's potential exposure to arc-flash energy, conducted for the purpose of injury prevention and the determination of safe work practices and the appropriate levels of PPE."

What are the government regulations for arc flash hazard and FR clothing?

OSHA 1910.269 – states "the employer shall ensure that each employee who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arc does not wear clothing that, when exposed to flames or electric arc, could increase the extent of the injury that would be sustained by the employee." .

What is NFPA 70E?

The National Fire Protection Agency's (NFPA) 70E is the Standard for Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces. NFPA70E requires employees to wear flame resistant protective clothing wherever there is a possible exposure to electric arc flash. NFPA70E is considered a "generally accepted industry standard" and OSHA will fine companies under the general duty clause, which requires employers to take the appropriate steps to protect workers. NFPA70E is widely accepted throughout general manufacturing as well as the electrical industries.

What's required of employers?

NFPA 70E requires that a flash hazard analysis be conducted by employers and that they ensure workers are provided protective clothing for their specific task .

Can I be cited by OSHA?

Typically, OSHA might cite non-compliance with 29CFR 1910.335(a)(1)(i) which requires the use of protective equipment when working where a potential electrical hazard exists or 29CFR 1910.132(d)(1), which requires employer assessment of workplace hazards and the use of personal protective equipment.

What is the "general duty clause"?

The Occupational and Safety Health Act of 1970 –Section 5 (a)(1) and states "…each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees." :

What is the NESC?

The National Electric Safety Code (NESC) is the standard used by electric utilities to implement safety procedures for utility workers. NESC is also the standard OSHA uses when enforcing electrical utility safety. The latest revision, NESC 2007, includes flame-resistant clothing as a requirement.

What is a flash fire?

"A flash fire is spread rapidly through a diffuse fuel, such as dust, gas, or the vapors of an ignitable liquid, without production of damaging pressure." Flash fires are typically three seconds or less, but are fast-moving and intense. The severity is contingent on environmental factors such as the fuel available and the efficiency of combustion.

Are there government regulations about the flash fire hazard and FR clothing?

OSHA CFR 1910.132 states that "Protective equipment…shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact." s.

What other standards have been developed to address flash fire hazards?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) implemented two other standards. . They are: NFPA 2112 Standard on Flame Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire (2007 Edition) and NFPA 2113 Standard on Selection, Care, Use and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garment for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire (2007 Edition).

What is NFPA 2112?

NFPA 2112 is "not contributing to the burn injury of the wearer, providing a degree of protection to the wearer, and reducing the severity of burn injuries resulting from accidental exposure to hydrocarbon flash fires." These are garment testing standards to protect workers against flash fire hazards.


Hazard Risk
Category
Clothing Description
(Typical number of clothing layers is given in parentheses)
Required Minimum
Arc Rating
of PPE Cal/cm2
HRC 1 FR shirt and FR pants or FR coveralls (1 layer) 4
HRC 2 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants (1 or 2 layers)

8

HRC 3 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants plus FR coveralls, or Cotton underwear plus two FR coveralls (2 or 3 layers) 25
HRC 4 Cotton underwear plus FR shirt and FR pants plus multilayer flash suit (3 or more layers) 40

 


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