Is FR clothing considered PPE?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) consists of gear that an employee is required to wear depending on the work environment that he or she is in. To determine what kind of PPE is required in a particular workplace, a risk assessment must be completed. Employees may be required to wear hard hats, gloves, goggles, steel-toed boots, or fire safe PPE. Fire resistant clothing is the type of PPE that is most referred to when talking about personal protective equipment in the presence of fire hazards.

Who wears flame resistant clothing?

Flame-resistant (FR) clothing is worn on the job to protect employees from fire hazards and may be required in more places than some may realize. The main five occupations that should have FR clothing are:

  • Electricians
  • Electric utility line workers
  • Chemical plant workers
  • Workers in the paper and pulp industry
  • Those who work in the oil and gas industry

Electricians and utility line workers deal with potential arc flash hazards which reach temperatures up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit and have the potential to throw workers across a room. This temperature is hotter than the surface of the sun and can cause serious damage or death to anyone in close proximity. Those who work in the chemical plant industry or with oil and gas deal with flammable gases and liquids that can result in terrible fires which cost people their lives as well as damage the company’s property. And lastly, workers in the paper industry are subject to combustible dust as well as large amounts of class A fire hazards that involve solid materials like wood, textiles, or paper. All of these occupations are incredibly dangerous to both the workers and facilities. The only way to reduce this danger is to conduct proper risk assessment to remove the hazards as well as give more protective equipment including fire safe PPE to individuals.

These specific industries and others that may deal with an environment that contains fire risks should know about both NFPA 2112 and 2113 where the garment standard as well as how employers or individuals choose fire safe PPE are explained. If someone is working in a place where they will run into electrical hazards, they should also become familiar with NFPA’s 70E regulation which details the prevention of arc flash incidents as well as the appropriate garments that should be worn in electrical environments.

There are several different kinds of FR clothing that should be used in different environments that consist of four different levels of classification depending on the hazard. These can range from one layer of clothing all the way to heavy duty arc suits that have at least two layers, a hood, heavy duty boots, and hefty gloves that protect the wearer. Overall, it is imperative that the proper fire safe PPE is worn to reduce the risk of injury and death for those who are working in environments that contain fire hazards.

 

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