Things To Avoid While Wearing Flame Retardant Fabric

When it comes to workplace safety, the company is not only responsible for the safeguard of employees but they also have to think of the protection of the equipment and machinery. There are some things you should avoid wearing...

Things To Avoid While Wearing Flame Retardant Fabric
Caution and safety go hand in hand. A little mistake can become huge in instances of carelessness against safety requirements in any situation.
When it comes to workplace safety, the company is not only responsible for the safeguard of employees but they also have to think of the protection of the equipment and machinery. A small mistake for them can not only just mean the loss of hundreds and thousands of dollars but also the loss of valuable lives. This is why workplace safety has to be observed at many levels as it can affect the employees in many ways.
Many industrial jobs require employees to wear the uniform made out of protective fabric or flame-retardant fabric aimed at safeguarding employees against injuries caused by accidental fires,arc flashes, molten metal splash or chemical outburst etc. But even with the flame- retardant clothing, small mistakes on the personal or organizational level can lead to health issues, injuries or bigger mishaps. Let us look at some of the situations that need to be avoided to needlessly put a life at risk. 


What Not To Do When Wearing Flame-Retardant Clothing

There are many things that are seemingly casual or risk-free but have the tendency to result in major injuries. The flame-retardant cloth worn to protect the body from any harms can fail to serve its purpose when not worn properly. How can that happen? Here are a few situations clarifying the ways FR clothing is improperly worn.


Wearing the Wrong Outer or Underlayers

The cold weather can easily tempt an employee to wear a more comfortable, non-FR outer layer such as a jacket, to keep warm overlooking the safety aspect. In that case, the employee may have FR clothing underneath but the outer layer can still catch fire and burn causing a lot of harm to the employee. In such a situation, it is wiser to invest in the right FR wear suitable for cold weather than to opt for risky solutions.
Similarly, the protection standards require employees to wear another FR layer underneath the regular clothing especially in case of high-risk jobs. Some workers tend to opt for wearing performance T-shirts under the FR apparelin order to deal with moisture problem, but is made from polyester or other synthetic material, they end up putting the employees in danger. It is absolutely imperative that the under-layer should be made from FR fabric in order to observe maximum protection against workplace hazards. 



Partially Exposing the Body to Workplace Hazards

In hot weather discomfort can lead to casual mistakes on the part of employees, again going against the rules of workplace safety and putting oneself in the way of unwarranted risk. Some things as small as rolling up the sleeves can cause major damage by exposing the arms to risk, particularly, where arc flash exposure is involved. 
In the same fashion, unbuttoning or unzipping the FR outer-layer can expose the skin, a non-FR under-layer or even an FR layer of lower PPE category. Another example of a casual mistake is an untucked tail of a shirt that presents the risk of heat and flames reaching the body under the bottom of the shirt causing great damage. In which case, the shirt should either be properly tucked in or should be purposely constructed long enough to alleviate the risk factor. 
In all these situations, the risk of injury is still there as the safety standards are not properly met. To avoid this risky scenario, the best way is to invest in suitable FR clothing made from lightweight and, ideally, moisture-wicking fabric in order to provide maximum protection and comfort at the same time. 


What Not To Expose Flame-Retardant Clothing To

At times, the external factors can cause a higher risk of damage or injuries even when the FR clothing is worn properly. These external factors include exposure to other contaminants containing flammable components such as insulating oil in transformers as well as hydraulic oils for machinery or creosote on telephone poles. Moreover, hot weather brings its own challenges in the form of insecticides used to ward off mosquitos in outdoor settings. 
The exposure to such chemicals and substances can significantly reduce the effectiveness of FR properties - if not complete, remove them – placing the wearer in a risk situation. As these contaminants can easily ignite in case of a fire or electric hazard, the risk of injury is substantially increased with the reduced protection of the FR workwear.
In these situations, it is often not possible to remove the external factors as they are part of the routine work at utility worksites. So the solution again lies in looking for alternatives. For example, water-borne, Permethrin-based insect repellents are considered safe for flame retardant fabrics. In some cases, insect repellents are also applied to FR garments, where it is recommended to avoid using DEET or DEET-containing insect repellents as they are not only flammable but can also temporarily diminish the flame resistance of the FR fabrics.
Another way to reduce the risk of injury in this situation is to not let these flammable contaminants accumulate on the surface of the FR fabric – requiring greater care and maintenance for the FR garments as clean apparel obviously offers greater protection against workplace hazards. Industry standards also stress the significance of greater apparel care and maintenance for such temporary risk situations. According to “NFPA 2113: Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures”, the routine care and maintenance is of utmost importance to avoid accumulation of contaminants that could adversely affect the flame-resistance of the FR apparel.


Alternative Flame-Retardant Clothing

By contrast, some circumstances sanction discontinuation or avoidance of regular FR clothing in order to avoid health issues. Let us see when that can happen.


Allergic Reactions

As all forms of flame-retardant fabrics are chemically treated in one way or another, people with a history of allergic issues such as skin problems or respiratory concerns, have to be extra careful with what they wear. In this case, the wise thing to do is to consult a health professional seeking advice on the kind of chemicals that can trigger the allergic reaction and then avoid wearing FR wear that contains such chemicals. For instance, TPP is associated with asthma and other allergy symptoms whereas TCIPP and TDCPP are connected with eczema. 


Pregnancy

Pregnant women have to be very careful about exposure to flame retardants as this can not only cause problems for their own health but also for the zzzzl. According to research, PBDEs can easily pass through placenta transferring the detrimental effects from mother to the child. Research has even shown the presence of PBDEs in the fetal blood of women that have had exposure to FR products. Consequently, children with higher levels of PBDEs in their blood were found to be at higher risk for hyperactivity as well as decreased learning and memory. 
In both the above situations, the risk involved can be avoided by investing in alternative FR clothing options that do not pose a similar danger to employee’s health. Flame-retardant fabric manufacturers can also be consulted for in-depth analysis of such situations so they can come up with alternative choices.


Summary

Although employees need to show personal responsibility in all risk situations, however, it falls on the shoulders of the employer to educate the workers well on workplace safety and protection and encourage proper compliance of safety rules and standards.
It is also noteworthy here that the employers need to keep the comfort aspect of the workwear in mind when investing in the FR apparel. The greater the comfort of the workwear, the more likely the employees will adhere to proper compliance. The selection of the FR fabric should be thorough and appropriate as well. For instance, in case of jobs involving flammable oils, FR fabrics should have an oil-repellent finish which will reduce the risk of injury significantly. Although the need for proper laundering and care can still not be disregarded.

Editor's Review
Atif Mallo is a versatile geek lover, Tech blogger, avid reader and a dreamer, who is extremely dedicated towards his tasks and a true prodigy. He is self-learned tech blogger and an Digital Marketing expert.
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Information Guide Africa: Things To Avoid While Wearing Flame Retardant Fabric
Things To Avoid While Wearing Flame Retardant Fabric
When it comes to workplace safety, the company is not only responsible for the safeguard of employees but they also have to think of the protection of the equipment and machinery. There are some things you should avoid wearing...
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