Changes to Flame-Resistant Work Apparel

2015-10-20-EMCOLDER-H2-300x1441As of 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration passed new rules for employees regarding open flame hazards. While before this change it was only recommended that your body be fully covered with flame-resistant clothing in the work place, this new regulation requires that those whose workplaces meet certain requirements, which an employer must check, must have 100% full body coverage for their employees. We’ll detail how these changes might apply to you.

Who are these changes designed for?

These changes to the OSHA ruling on flame-resistant gear is designed to improve the safety for those who work in hazardous environments, as it was decided that the current policy was not sufficient in preventing injury from workplace hazards. Those that have the chance of encountering:

  • Electric arcs, such as electricians and those working with electrical transmission.
  • Flash fires, such as those working in refineries with chemical and pharmaceutical components.
  • Combustible dust explosions, such as those working in the paper and pulp, food processing, and paint industries.
  • As well as any worker who comes in contact with energized electrical equipment.

What level of Flame-Resistant gear is needed?

What category of Flame-Resistant gear is needed for each employee is based off of the employer’s own hazard risk analysis, and this is what determines the potential for exposure in any work environment. This Hazard Risk Category, or HRC, is split into four different categories with the level of fire resistance increasing as the number rises, the higher the category, the greater your need for more insulating apparel. HRC 1 and 2 are the base levels, and roughly 90% of all electrical trade employees usually only need apparel that fits in these categories. HRC 3 is slightly more heavy duty, with HRC 4 requiring the most protection, usually for industrial work.

Why is Flame-Resistant gear important?

Flame-resistant gear is designed so that it does not ignite or continue to burn from a fire. Typically, if there is a fire-related emergency the greatest degree of burns comes from clothing igniting, rather than from the original fire hazard. Clothed areas also burn more than exposed skin does, which means that for true safety the danger posed by your clothing burning needs to be reduced. Because of flame-resistant gear’s design you’re given a better chance of removing yourself from a hazardous area while limiting the chance you’ll be injured by it.

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