If your work environment has even the slightest possibility of exposing you to an open flame or electrical charge, it is important for you to take advantage of new FRC technology in order to ensure your health and safety. FRC stands for "Flame Resistant Clothing," and is its efficiency if measured by its ATPV, or "Arc Thermal Protective Value." These Arc Ratings can be found on many garment labels or can be found by contacting your work clothing supplier. Typically, a work uniform arc value is chosen based off the relative risk associated with the workers environment. A hazard analysis may be conducted in order to determine the potential incident energy of the work environment. Depending on the determined risk association, a work environment is place in a Hazard Risk Category (HRC) from 0-4.
An HRC of 0 will allow 100% untreated cotton, while and HRC of 4 requires FR shirts and pants plus a double layer switching coat and pants. Roughly 90% of all electrical trade workers will fall into a category of 1-2, which means they are required to wear garment with an ATPV of 8 or higher. Other work environments that require FRC include: Electric Arc (electricians, electric utility lineman, etc.), Flash Fire (refinery, chemical and pharmaceutical workers, etc.) Combustible Dust Explosion (workers in the paper and pulp industry, food processing, and paint). Plus ANY workers who come in contact with energized electrical equipment must be considered as well.
The newest fabric innovation available for industrial uniforms is called Tecasafe® PLUS. This new fabric technology gives all benefits of FR cotton, but with higher ATPV ratings as well as softer and more comfortable fabric. It is a combination of three inherently flame resistant fibers, combining the best attributes of all three (flame resistance, strength, and comfort). Other popular fabrics include Indura® and Indura® Ultra Soft, which are made from a chemically treated blend of nylon and cotton.
Some people wonder if it is "the law" for workers in certain work environment to wear this specialized workwear. The OSHA General Duty Clause states: "the clothing cannot contribute to an employee's injury." In the case of certain work environment, polyester blended clothing (which will melt and drip at lower temperatures) can certainly contribute to the injury of the worker. Employers often require FR clothing for their workers because it is the right thing to do and it reduced their liability in these situations.
It is very important to properly maintain your FR clothing. Certain detergents can deteriorate the chemically treated fabric and lessen its effectiveness. It is strongly advised that you allow a professional or industrial laundry service specializing in FR clothing to maintain your uniforms. If you must wash your garment at home, avoid any detergent containing chlorine, bleach, or hydrogen peroxides.