When it comes to workplace safety, FR stands for flame resistant, or in some cases, flame retardant. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually have two different, but related, meanings. Understanding what each of these phrases means, and how they should be used in the workplace, will help to improve overall safety.
The term flame retardant refers to any compound that is engineered to stop something from burning. In most cases, this will be a compound that is put on or in safety clothing with the intent to prevent it from burning when it is exposed to a fire, arc flash, or other event that could cause ignition. One of the most common ways that a flame retardant will work is that it causes polymerization within the core of a cotton fiber, which makes it so it won’t burn.
Fire resistant is a type of rating that is used to determine what level of protection a particular garment will have. Examples of this would be rated arc flash personal protection equipment, i.e. CAT 1, CAT 2, CAT 3, and CAT 4.
How are they Related
Both of these terms share the acronym FR, but that is not all they have in common. In most cases, something will be made flame resistant when it has a flame retardant applied to it. The makers of workplace safety clothing and related items will take specific materials and apply flame retardants to them to make it so they won’t burn. In situations where an employee could be exposed to flame, one of the biggest risks is that their clothing will catch fire and burn against the skin. By using FR clothing, this risk is dramatically reduced, which can prevent very serious injuries.
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