Flame resistant clothing is the basis of worker safety in every single job site that has potential flame hazards. Not everyone is aware of conditions that can cause arc fires. Electrified equipment as well as diesel fuel and power machinery can cause flash fires. This does not even include the hazards that exist in the chemical industry! So it goes without saying that having the correct safety garment for a specific job site is tantamount to saving lives and reducing injuries.
This article will help to explain how flame resistant clothing not only protects workers but can even save a life during a catastrophic moment such as an arc flash event.
Limitations Of Flame Resistant Clothing
Since there is not a flame resistant apparel produced that will make a person 100% immune to fire, heat, smoke, and flames it is important to know the limitations of flame resistant clothing and where and how to use personal protective equipment (PPE). It is important to understand that PPE is to help protect from the effect of fire or an arc flash event; however it is not offered as an impervious heat shield for the human body. If such a material existed then fireman would never be injured! It is the same scenario if someone is exposed smoke, the PPE will not protect the lungs from smoke inhalation. Only a breathing unit specially designed for this purpose will protect the lungs and eyes. And of course no amount of protective clothing will protect a human being from thousands of degrees of heart and/or flames for more than a second or two. Understanding the limits of PPE clothing in a catastrophic event, let’s now look at how PPE clothing will protect you.
How Flame Resistant Clothing Protects You
PPE clothing is designed to protect someone from a sudden and intense exposure to heat while giving them the chance to survive with minimal or hopefully no injuries.
After an arc flash or other sudden release of a heat source, a worker can be knocked unconscious by the intensity of the unexpected release. This is when flame resistant clothing can also be a source of safety. The PPE clothing is designed to self extinguish and/or is non combustible so that the clothing will not continue to burn and cause even further trauma to the victim. These specially treated fibers will react to the heat in a way that they will create a layer of insulation instead of becoming fuel for the fire.
But if an employee is wearing regular work apparel they can receive even more severe burns that could lead to death. Because untreated, materials usually contain synthetic fibers that melt under intense heat, the victim’s clothes actually melt into the skin and continue the burning process. Flame resistant clothing not only will not melt, it will flake away so as not to be a further source of fuel for the heat.
Any doubts that your company is compliant? Your employees safe?
The 2012 Edition of the NFPA 70E recommendations are in print and take effect January 1, 2012.
Do you and your employees know all of the changes? Have they been implemented into your Electrical Safety Program? Do you have an Electrical Safety Program? Have you had Electrical Safety Training in the last year?
If the answer to any of those questions is no, then contact Macron Safety today!
Call 916-905-6535 or contact us to be certain you are in compliance.