What Should You Consider When Choosing Flame Resistant Workwear?
Flame resistant workwear is designed to protect employees, and offer a last line of defense against fire, heat and flame. This form of PPE is one of the most important safety measures for those working in high risk industries such as construction, utilities, food manufacturing, metal fabrication, and more, but how can managers and business leaders ensure that they are selecting the most appropriate garments for their staff?
The challenge with flame resistant workwear is that there’s really no strict right or wrong when it comes to choosing the best clothing. There’s no one leading material, or style, or brand that is recommended. Instead, choosing the best flame resistant clothing is about delving deeper into the characteristics of the workwear, knowing what to look for, and selecting garments that meet employee needs and tick all the right boxes.
So what should you be looking for in flame resistant workwear?
The most important factor to look out for in flame resistant workwear is the use of inherent fabrics. This means that the beneficial characteristics of the fabric are built in to the material, rather than having a material that is simply coated in a surface layer of protective fibres. The advantage of this is that the flame resistant qualities cannot be minimised through everyday wear and tear or regular washing. There are many different kinds of inherent fabric, so it’s worth checking out what the USPs of each fabric are and finding one that’s right for your environment. We recommend selecting clothing made from para-aramid fibres which are known for being strong and durable.
Always look for flame resistant workwear that boasts ISO 11612:2015 certification. This means that the clothing has met the strict requirements to be classed as a garment that protects the wearer from heat and flame. However, you’ll notice that there are different levels of ISO 11612:2015 certification, with additional letters confirming that clothing has gone through industrial testing. Many industries will want to ensure that their flame resistant clothing has been exposed to A and B tests, which look at flame spreading and convective heat. However, those working in more niche and specialist industries may wish to look at further testing, such as E testing against molten metals.
While it is important for those working in environments where there is a risk of fire to understand how to prevent a spread if it is safe to do so, it is even more important to understand the need to return to safety at times when it is deemed unsafe to intervene. It is vital that workers have the flexibility in their clothing to allow them to move quickly in the event of a fire, so flexibility in the design of flame resistant PPE is something to take into consideration. Look for garments that are manufactured in a normal or loose fit, rather than a tight fit, to provide ease of movement. Also look for strategic design features such as elasticated sides and panels that can improve mobility for the wearer.
One of the most important aspects to keep in mind is that flame resistant clothing is only as good as its owner. Ultimately, even the best flame resistant PPE will fail to do its job if it is not worn correctly, or not worn at all. In environments where there is ongoing risk of fire, flame resistant clothing should be worn every day, which means that it’s vital for clothing to be easy to wash and dry to prevent frustrations and increase rates of compliance across the workforce. Ideally, look for flame resistant clothing that can be wet washed as normal at home, and which can also be industrially laundered to provide wearers with options, and ensure that PPE remains clean and cared for.
If you’d like help choosing flame resistant workwear for your organisation, get in touch with the Wearwell team today.