Fire-resistant clothing is required in many industries and workplaces with potential hazards like flames and electrical circuits, but what about your jobsite? Our guide explains what jobsites need fire-resistant clothing for workers, how much clothing they need, and the employer’s responsibility in providing the garments.
Workplace Hazards That Necessitate Fire-Resistant Clothing
Fire-resistant (FR) clothing is required in many industries around the world, from firefighters and electricians to oil and gas workers. Some of the hazards in a workplace that necessitate FR clothing for workers include:
- Open flames
- Molten metal
- Energized circuits
- Extreme heat
- Electrical arcs
- Flammable substances
If your jobsite contains these potential dangers to workers, FR clothing is absolutely required.
Is There a Difference Between Fire-Resistant & Fire-Retardant Clothing?
FR clothing can either mean fire-resistant or fire-retardant, but is there a difference between the two? There is a difference between clothing being retardant and resistant to flames, but the distinction is subtle.
Fire-resistant clothing is made of materials that are inherently self-extinguishing and resistant to flame and heat, like Nomex, Kevlar, and Modacrylic. Fire-retardant clothing is made of materials that have been chemically treated to give it self-extinguishing properties. For the wearer, the difference is minimal.
Does OSHA Require FR Clothing?
Yes, OSHA requires that all employers ensure that employees who are potentially exposed to such dangers have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), including FR clothing. If your jobsite contains such hazards as we’ve listed, Federal OSHA law requires that you or your employees have the proper protection.
It’s also the employer’s responsibility under federal OSHA law to provide workers with sufficient FR clothing, not the workers. It’s also an ongoing responsibility for the employer under OSHA’s General Duty Clause, which means they must continue to provide adequate FR clothing for employees throughout their employment.
How Much FR Clothing Do Workers Need?
While FR clothing helps protect workers from thermal and electrical danger, one layer of clothing doesn’t make them invincible. There are many OSHA guides about how much FR clothing workers should wear, but many follow the NFPA 70E PPE requirements for arc flash and electrical safety clothing.
The guide contains four categories of potential danger to workers at a jobsite, with category one being the minimal amount of danger, and category four being the highest. In category one, a base layer of FR clothing like a long-sleeve shirt, pants, face covering, and gloves is required. Additional garments and layers are recommended in the higher categories, like lightweight FR jackets.
Hopefully, our guide has helped you to determine if your jobsite needs FR clothing and how much FR clothing the workers need. If you have any further questions about FR clothing or need to purchase some for yourself or your workers, get in touch with our expert staff at FR Outlet!