Guidelines to Follow When Choosing Flame Resistant Clothing and Industrial Products
Injuries from fires and intension heat are some of the most gruesome and lethal for workers unfortunated to be involved in such accidents. Protecting against fire and heat hazards is an essential goal on any job site. The first step is to engineer hazards out of a work site and institute safe working procedures, but accidents still occur. In order to mitigate the injuries caused by accidental flash fires, flame resistant industrial supplies have to be a part of personal protective equipment.
In this article we will examine how flame resistant industrial products work, the different heat and fire hazards, and provide some thoughts on selecting the proper pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with their limits in mind.
How Flame Resistant Clothing Mitigates Hazards
When caught in a sudden flash fire or arc fire, there is no time to react to avoid an injury. Sudden, intense heat has a number of unexpected consequences that goes beyond starting fires.
Flame resistant industrial supplies are designed to reduce the hazard potential of intense heat. Industrial work wear is unsuited to exposure to high temperatures. Cotton and natural fibers will ignite from flash fires and will continue to burn. This is an extremely dangerous hazard if a worker has been knocked unconscious while his work wear continues to burn. Synthetic fibers and polyesters will melt when exposed to intense heat, causing third degree burns to the entire body surface.
Flame resistant materials counteract both of these behaviors. When these chemically treated fibers are exposed to flash fires, they will char and stiffen, instantly forming an insulating barrier against further exposure. The material is therefore self-extinguishing and will not act as a fuel source.
Identifying Job Site Fire and Heat Hazards
Identifying fire and heat hazards is the key to preventing them and mitigating accidents. The nature of a flash fire or arc fire is instantaneous, rather than standing flames that offer some warning and can be extinguished.
The intension release of heat is primarily characterized by exploding vapor clouds and arc fires. Many chemicals, from gasoline and diesel fuel to solvents and resins, release flammable vapors when they are open to the environment. The vapors are colorless and invisible and can be ignited with very little external heat or a tiny spark. By the time a vapor cloud is detected, it is usually too late. For this reason, it is imperative to prevent vapors from gathering by using the proper storage containers, but the hazard always exists.
Arc fires are another tricky source of intense heat. All live electrical lines and hot work carries the potential to start an arc fire. They occur when the current running through a wire jumps from a piece of equipment, through a worker, and then to the ground. The resulting arc fire can generate thousands of degrees of heat in an instant as it travels.
Understanding PPE – Selections And Limitations
There are simply no industrial products that can completely eliminate the danger of a flash fire or an arc fire. Flame resistant industrial supplies and apparel will never allow a person to walk through standing flames. They are designed to reduce the injury potential of an accident in order to give workers a fighting chance to survive an accident without causing injuries. When selecting and using flame resistant personal protective equipment, these limitations have to be kept in mind. Always address hazards with engineering solutions and safe work practices first.
Industrial work wear can be made flame resistant with chemical treatment of the fibers or with the application of a protective coating. Always follow the cleaning and care instructions for each and every garment to ensure that their protective properties will remain effective. Utilizing a uniform service is an excellent way to ensure proper care and worker safety.
In order to use these industrial products to create an effective personal protective equipment program, workers have to utilize flame resistant equipment that covers their own bodies. Coveralls and long jackets can cover the majority of the body surface and adding extra layers will increase their insulation properties. Elbow length, heavy-duty leather or thermal gloves will insulate a worker and offer proper hand protection. Industrial products such as safety glasses and a hardhat fitted with a polycarbonate face shield will protect the head and face. Welder's masks and flame resistant wraps are also an excellent idea.
Overall, flame resistant industrial products will provide a vital layer of protection when working with live wires or flammable chemicals. Combined with industry best practices, workers can be kept safe from the worst hazards of flash and arc fires.