Starting April 1, 2015, the new OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.269 goes into effect on electrical protective equipment. As many as 60% to 70% of today’s workers who deal with electricity will need to wear flame resistant (FR) clothing, said Marcus Harris, Consulting and Compliance Manager for MCR Safety
“Basically, the new standard states that anyone performing electrical work of any kind needs to wear flame resistant clothing,” Harris said. “That includes any and all electrical workers who could be exposed to an electric arc while on the job.”
What Is MCR Safety Flame Resistant Clothing?
Flame resistant clothing stops burning once the source of ignition, either a flame or an electric arc, is removed. Essentially, the fabric self-extinguishes and the secondary source of potential injury—clothes burning against the skin—is removed. All manufacturers of FR clothing must pass the ASTM D6415 vertical flame test and meet the stringent requirements of ASTM F1506.
Both treated and inherently flame resistant fabrics are flame resistant for the useful life of the garment. The difference between them relates to the process used in making the final product flame resistant. Treated cotton fabrics are given a flame resistant chemical application, which the originally non-FR fabric is immersed in after it is woven together. Inherent fabrics contain fibers with an FR polymer base, so that there is no need for a topical treatment. Both types of fabric offer comparable protection.
How Should MCR Safety Flame Resistant Clothing Fit?
The looser fitting the FR garments, the more thermal protection the clothing system will provide. Air is a very effective insulator; therefore, maintaining an air gap between the clothing and skin will improve thermal protection. However, a loose fit must be balanced against the hazard of clothing being caught in moving equipment. Most FR products will shrink and should be sized accordingly.
How Is MCR Safety Flame Resistant Clothing Cleaned?
Most FR garments can be laundered at home using “normal” detergents and procedures. Most FR garments prohibit the use of chlorine bleach for a variety of reasons and should be laundered separately. Fabric softeners are discouraged. Many FR products can also be industrially laundered. Each garment must contain a label with home laundering instructions. Laundering instructions vary by FR fabric, so check labels carefully before laundering.
What Is an Arc Rating? Where Do I Find It on My Clothing?
Arc ratings are described by ASTM 1506 as follows: An arc rating is a value that indicates the arc performance of a material or system of materials. It is either the arc thermal performance value (APTV) or breakopen threshold energy (EBT), when the ATPV cannot be determined by Test method F 1959. A garment’s arc rating can be found on the interior tag below the collar.