FR wear finally has an improvement. Now you can buy lightweight, comfortable, breathable garments made from a new polyester.
Flame-resistant clothing has a well-earned reputation for being heavy, hot and uncomfortable. So much so, workers sometimes don’t wear it.
In this podcast, we tell about modern polyester flame-resistant technology from Bulwark FR and Millikan.
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Hi there, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.
Traditional flame-resistant clothing is hot, heavy, and itchy. But new technologies and a room full of sweating mannequins have created FR wear that is much more comfortable.
Let’s take a look first at flame-resistant clothing history. Traditionally, it’s been made from wool, which is naturally flame-resistant, or cotton, treated with FR chemicals. These materials have been heavy, uncomfortable and breathe poorly. Because of this, workers don’t always wear their FR garment or they wear it wrong—rolling up the sleeves and untucking the shirts.
Just to pass inspection, some even take the labels out of flame-resistant clothing and sew them into non-flame-resistant clothing. Super dangerous.
Up ’til now, polyester wasn’t a viable option because it wasn’t flame-resistant and it could actually melt onto the skin.
Companies are finding ways to make this clothing lighter and more breathable. One company, Bulwark, now has polyester flame-resistant garments. They worked with Millikan labs to modify a polyester molecule so it’s resistant to high heat. It’s good for workers in electric utilities, oil and gas, emerging energy, and anything NFPA 70E. This clothing is now available from Bulwark at competitive prices. And this may sound like a sponsor plug but it is not, we just like to recognize breakthroughs in the industry. This will change the way the PPE is made going forward.
If you’re out buying FR clothing, consider:
1. Proper fit. Make sure the design works for your job or employees. Companies should do trial runs and test garments to make sure they don’t shrink in the wash.
2. Fabric softness. Does it feel stiff and itchy?
3. Moisture and temperature management. Pick moisture-wicking fabrics, lightweight fabrics, and fabrics with open waves for breathability. Avoid fabrics that are heavy when they get wet. For example if cotton or wool aren’t blended with other fabrics, they can absorb sweat and then feel wet and heavy.
Well, no matter if it’s modern polyester or old-school wool or cotton, make sure to wear your flame-resistant clothing. It can’t save you from flash fires, arc flash burns and heat illness if you’re not wearing it, and wearing it right.
That’s all for this episode on Flame-Resistant Clothing Breakthroughs. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See the website at creativesafetysupply.com
NIOSH tests clothing with their sweating mannequin:
See the flame testing mannequin named Burnie from MTNW:
Worker and flames photo provided by Bulwark FR