Tips and information on garment cleaning and caring for your FR workwear.
READING FR GARMENT CARE LABELS
Always read the care labels on any FR garment before laundering. Instructions vary with each type of fabric and from product to product.
The image below is a generic representation of the information that is included on a flame-resistant garment's care label, and what each part represents.
Flame-Resistant vs. Flame Retardant… | Inherent vs. Treated…
What are the differences?
Flame-Resistant: The characteristic of a fabric to resist ignition and to self extinguish if ignited.
Flame Retardant: a chemical substance used to treat a fabric or material, making it flame-resistant.
Inherently Flame-Resistant Fabrics: Flame resistance is a built in characteristic of the fiber, no treatment is needed.
Treated Flame-Resistant Fabrics: the flame-resistant characteristic is achieved through special treatments applied to the fiber or fabric.
The term “flame-resistant” covers treated flame-resistant and inherently flame-resistant fabrics and materials.
WHEN IS FR CLOTHING REQUIRED?
1. When there is a risk of being exposed to flash fire
- Combustible Dust
- Flammable Liquids or Solids
- Fire Hazards
2. When there is risk of being exposed to arc flash
- Electrical Work
- Operation of Electrical Equipment
- Especially within proximity of 300V or greater and 3 Phase Equipment
Industrial Laundering vs. Home Laundering
Who does the laundry?
A letter of interpretation was issued June 2015, by OSHA, pertaining to 29 CFR 1926.95(a). It states:
“…the standard does not prohibit home laundering of FR and arc-rated clothing if the employer permits it. However, to comply with 1910.132 or 1926.95, the employer cannot simply instruct employees to follow manufacturers' instructions. Employers must ensure that protective clothing such as FR garments are adequately maintained in a reliable condition such that if the FR garment is challenged in a flash fire, the garment will perform as designed.
In other words, the employer is responsible for ensuring that the FR garment is laundered such that contaminants (e.g. dirt, oils, etc.) will not affect the performance of the garment when it is in use. If employers rely on home laundering of the clothing, they must train their employees in proper laundering procedures and techniques, and employers must inspect the clothing on a regular basis to ensure that it is not in need of repair or replacement. If an employer cannot meet these conditions, then the employer is responsible for laundering the FR and arc-rated clothing.”
Maddux, James G. "06/01/2015 - Laundering Responsibilities for Fire Retarding (FR) Clothing Provided to Employees." 06/01/2015 - Laundering Responsibilities for Fire Retarding (FR) Clothing Provided to Employees. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, 01 June 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
OSHA REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERSEmployers are required to train each worker required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) to know:
- When PPE is necessary
- What kind of PPE is necessary
- How to correctly wear, adjust, and remove PPE
- The limitations of the equipment
- Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the equipment
GARMENT RETIREMENT / REMOVAL FROM SERVICE
These visually identifiable issues may reduce the effectiveness of FR clothing and are basis for garment retirement.
- Worn or thin spots, holes, excessive wear or abrasion spots on the garment.
- Evidence of cuts, rips, tears, open seams, or broken closures.
- Changes or Alterations made to a garment that significantly varies from the original design.
- The FR clothing does not fit the wearer or is ill-fitting.
- Soiled beyond salvage- clothing soiled by chemicals or substances that present a flammability hazard, such as solvents, solids, oils and other accelerants that cannot be properly removed by cleaning. Chemical odors that remain after appropriate laundering can be an indicator of this type of issue.