Things You Should Know About Fire-Resistant Clothing

According to the Australian WHS laws, a business must follow safe work practices to ensure workers’ health and safety. An essential aspect of such practices is appropriate clothing when working in high-risk environments. Fire-resistant clothing is one such vital thing among other protective workwear that protects employees from accidents and injuries in various workplaces. But before buying these Australian made workwear for your employees, you must learn a few essential facts about it. 

Following are the details.

What is fire-resistant clothing?

Fire-resistant (FR) clothing is customised workwear that protects workers from thermal and fire exposure risks. It is worn along with a specialised tool kit according to the manufacturer or industry need to counter associated hazards. 

This workwear is necessary when a job involves the chance of electric shocks, flash fire, arc flash hazards, heat splatters and extreme temperatures. 

What is the difference between fire-resistant and fire-retardant clothing?

Fire-resistant clothing is made of flame-resistant materials and does not easily ignite when exposed to fire. The fibres in this clothing also don’t reduce or disappear in strength even after frequent washes. However, fire-resistant clothing is expensive and difficult to acquire in many organisations. 

Fire-retardant clothing is made from self-extinguishing material. The quality of this type of clothing fades with time and continuous use. However, this clothing is less expensive and easy to obtain.  

You should know that both types of clothing burn exceptionally slowly and are self-extinguishing. However, the fabric used for fire-retardant clothing may vary. But all the fabrics should undergo chemical treatment to prevent flames from spreading and burning quickly.

What are the types of FR clothing?

Fire-resistant uniforms can be categorised based on the garment’s design, protection level and weight. 

Garments like bomber jackets, coveralls and overalls provide wearer protection from potential hazards. Special kit items like lab coats, face mufflers, and balaclavas are also recommended to professionals in niche areas.

Which industries need the FR uniform?

Research has shown that Australian workplaces are not adequately prepared for fire emergencies. So, having the right FR uniform is crucial to prevent fire hazards and fatal consequences.

Utility workers, the power industry, welding, cutting and electrical work are the sectors that require FR clothing of different types as per the degree of arc flash scenario or exposure to flame.

As an employer, you must know that flame-resistant clothing is not fireproof, so you must instruct workers to avoid wearing synthetic clothes underneath. Remember, t-shirts, underwear, pants, and other items in synthetic material can lead to serious injury as they melt on the skin and multiply the damage caused by flame exposure. 

What standard should you follow for fire-resistant clothing?     

You must follow PPE standards for the selection of FR clothing. The best way to ensure that this Australian made workwear is safe for your work environment is by following the standards set by Safe Work Australia.

The lowest arc rating for HRC4 is 40, HRC3 is 25, HRC 2 is eight and HRC 1 is 4. For better security of the workers, you can recommend wearing multiple layers as the second layer can slow the burn and stop it eventually.  

Another thing you must remember is that FR clothing won’t protect against projectiles, explosive thrusts and other hazards. So, if you can foresee the expanse of hazards, make arrangements for additional PPE.

The significance of fire-resistance clothing to safeguard employees in a hazardous working site cannot be overstated. To select appropriate clothing, you must adhere to safety standards set by the regulatory body. There is a specific kind of protection for every type of potential arc flash or hazard. So, you must choose such clothing cautiously, as workers’ safety lies at the base of a system’s hierarchy.   

Author: Kiara Mac