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Houston Uniform & Apparel Flame Resistant Work Wear
Welcome to Houston Uniform & Apparel’s information resource section. Here you will find links to various other websites that can provide helpful information regarding flame resistant work clothing (FRC), various flame resistant fabrics, care and maintenance of FRC, and regulations and standards that govern the use of FRC.
Flame resistant work apparel is not a new concept. It has been around and in use going back to the 1960’s in the steel industry. The classification of flame resistant clothing that is addressed here is know as “secondary protective” FRC. Secondary protective clothing is clothing designed for continuous wear in areas where intermittent exposure to molten substance splash, radiant heat, and/or flame is possible. Therefore, this category of FRC typically is everyday work apparel that is designed to resist ignition in the event the wearer is unexpectedly subjected to an exposure to the previously mentioned heat or flame sources. This differs from “primary protective” clothing, such as Firemen’s turnout gear, where significant exposure to molten metal splash, radiant heat, or flame is likely to occur. The key difference here is that when Firemen respond to an alarm, they know they are going into a dangerous situation involving fire and extreme heat. A chemical plant worker or an electric utility lineman, on the other hand, does not start their workday expecting to be exposed to a flash fire or electric arc. In both these scenarios, however, flame resistant work apparel is designed to save lives or minimize burn injury that might be sustained in such an exposure.
Regulations and standards that govern the use of flame resistant clothing are currently being revised. Under the new guidelines, any worker who may potentially be exposed to an electric arc or flash fire in the performance of their job will most likely have to be in some level of flame resistant apparel. An electric arc flash is defined as the passage of substantial electric current through ionized air triggered by a fault. A flash fire is defined as a rapidly moving flame front which can be a combustion explosion. A flash fire may occur in an environment where fuel and air become mixed in adequate concentrations to combust and where all sources of ignition have not been controlled. Regulations notwith-standing, it simply makes sound safety sense to wear FR clothing if you have that potential exposure. Just as it makes sense to wear your seat belt when driving, so does FRC. Flame resistant apparel has time and time again proven its ability to save lives and reduce the extent of burn injury. As in any job involving risk, complacency becomes a critical factor. There is a phenomenon known as “conditioned risk tolerance”. What this means is that task redundancy without an incident gradually makes a worker believe that the dangers associated with their job are more benign than they really are. Safety’s mission, therefore, is to constantly remind workers of the perils that come with complacency.
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