First step in protecting yourself from arc flash and flash fire hazards on the job is wearing flame resistant (FR) clothing. However, if you’re not wearing your FR properly, you could be leaving yourself at risk for serious injuries. In fact, there are some cases in which wearing your FR clothing improperly could be just as dangerous as not wearing any at all.
It is important to follow your company’s guidelines for how to wear your uniform. Ideally, these guidelines should require that your uniform clothing is:
- FR clothing shouldn't be baggy, but it also shouldn't be overly fitted or tight. The layer of air in between your skin and clothing adds insulation and protection in the event of an arc flash or flash fire, so it's important that clothing doesn't sit too close to the body. Wear FR clothing which is not too tight for you or too loose for you. Keep a place in your clothing only to pass air to your undergarments. This layer of air insulates you and protects you from deadly hazards. Overly baggy clothing can be dangerous. Wear undergarments that will not melt. These undergarments should be flame resistant, and arc rated base. Non-melting fibers are cotton, wool, and silk. So choosing the best type of clothing suited as per your body structure is very important.
- Correctly wear your flame resistant workwear. This will give you the ultimate protection.
- Button your zip. You may be accustomed to wearing your shirts with a few of the top buttons unbuttoned, but FR clothing only protects your skin if it’s covering it—so you’ll want to button all your shirts (or zip/button your coveralls) completely. And, to further ensure no areas of your neck and chest are exposed, look to your base layer. Could you be wearing something lightweight, that still protects you from hazards? There are many FR base layers on the market that won’t add bulk or restrict movement, but can provide extra protection to your upper body.
- Snap the shirt: Snap button shirts are a great feature for reason that in case of emergency, you can easily remove them. You basically have seconds before you can even react to an accident, snap buttons are a smart option in FR clothings.
- Never expose your arms, do not roll your sleeves. Sure it’s hot. But that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your safety. Knox FR features a breathable fabric that keeps you cool during summer while keeping you protected from flash fires and arc flash at the same time.
- Tuck in your shirt tails: To prevent arc flash and flash fires from traveling under arc rated clothing and reaching your skin, it’s important to keep shirts tucked into pants. Even if your skin isn’t visible when your shirt is untucked, the gap in protection is enough to make you vulnerable to serious injury.
- The outer most layers or the primary clothing should be fire resistant. Non-Fire resistant clothing will not resist you from heat, flame, combustible dust, fire arcs, etc. There are different options to choose with your FR workwear like FR hoodies, jackets, coats, bibs, and coveralls are smart choices. If you decide to wear non-FR clothing above Fire resistant clothing, it can expose you to injury which can affect your exposed areas like face and head.
Conclusion: You want to pay full attention to your clothing. Maintaining a comfortable range of motion will help you work comfortably without any restrictions. If you ever feel restricted that can be a reason of wrong-fitted FR clothing. You need to check whether it’s too tight or too loose to wear.
Therefore wearing an wrong-fitted FR clothing is similar to wearing a non FR clothing. Accordingly selecting the best type of clothing suited as per your body structure is crucially important. Do not ignore these minor things. Prevention is always better than cure.