Workers in industrial settings face a heightened risk of burn injuries. Some electric arcs and flash fires reach temperatures that are hotter than the surface of the sun. When a person suffers burn injuries, they face a lifetime of medical struggle and reduced quality of life. The Occupational Health & Safety Administration requires fire-resistant clothing because of the prevalence of burn injuries from industrial accidents.
What Does Flame-Resistant Clothing Do?
Depending on its quality and materials, flame-resistant clothing can protect a worker in a variety of ways. Notably, clothing that is flame resistant will never be produced from synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester.
Flame-resistant clothing accomplishes the following:
- Self-extinguishes when ignited
- Resists ignition when introduced to heat
- Insulates the wearer from heat
- Does not melt and burn the wearer even worse
- Helps to reduce the severity of burns
Hazards that Require Flame-Resistant Clothing
There are certain types of employees that are required to wear flame-resistant clothing, due to the nature of their jobs and the hazards they may be exposed to. This includes:
- Workers who are exposed to energized circuits and their parts, when operating at 600 or more volts
- People who work near molten metal
- Workers who are exposed to a certain level of heat
- Employees who work near electric arcs and flammable substances that could ignite
OSHA Flame-Resistant Clothing Requirements
OSHA has two requirements that employers must meet for flame-resistant clothing. First, all employers must train their workers about the hazards of their job, so they know when flame-resistant clothing is required. Second, OSHA requires employers to ensure that workers are wearing proper clothing.
If an employer does not enforce proper safety standards at their job sites, they can be held liable by the injured after an accident occurs. An employer is required to make sure that all flame-resistant clothing being worn by employees is in functional condition and not too worn to be effective during a fire or blast.
Flame-Resistant Clothing Ratings
Flame-resistant clothing is classified based on its Arc Thermal Protective Value (ATPV), or arc rating. This rating relates to how much heat will be transferred to the person who is wearing the clothing in the event of contact with fire or heat. The higher the arc rating, the better suited a flame-resistant garment will be to protecting a worker from fire or heat hazards. Workers can wear multiple layers of flame-resistant clothing to get additional protection; sometimes three or more layers are required for the most dangerous tasks. An arc/ATPV rating will indicate that a garment has undergone proper testing to prove that it is flame-resistant, and manufacturers must list the rating on the label. It is crucial to ensure that the flame-resistant clothing you wear on the job is suited for the hazards and tasks at hand.
Who Is Responsible for Providing Flame-Resistant Clothing?
Many large companies will supply safety clothing to workers. However, in some cases, workers will be allowed to bring their own. In this case, employers are responsible for ensuring that employee-supplied fire-resistant clothing meets safety requirements. When it is time to wash clothes, employers must provide cleaning services if employees are unable or unwilling to accomplish washing that protects the clothing’s protective properties.
If you have more questions about flame-resistant clothing, your rights as a worker who has been injured on the job, or any type of industrial or other workplace accident, our team at Arnold & Itkin is standing by to help. We take on the most complex burn injury cases and have the resources to help you get answers and seek fair compensation. Call (888) 493-1629 today!