Is Protection Part of Your PPE’s DNA — Or Just Tacked On?

Is Protection Part of Your PPE’s DNA — Or Just Tacked On? Nov 04, 2019 By Rich Lippert, QSSPTechnical DirectorGlenGuard In the world of flame resistant (FR) work wear, there are two key categories to choose from: garments made from “inherent” FR fabric and those made with “treated” FR fabric. While both offer code-compliant protection from workplace hazards like arc flash and flash fire, there are critical differences between them — particularly over the lifespan of the garment. All FR garments work to ensure that exposure to flame will result in minimal harm to the wearer. They are made to act quickly in the event of a life-threatening hazard, igniting with great difficulty and quickly self-extinguishing — but not all FR garments accomplish this goal the same way. And when it comes to the differences between inherent and treated FR fabrics, we can see they present critical safety distinctions. First, let’s examine the distinguishing properties of a “treated” FR fabric. For work wear made with this kind of fabric, flame-resistant protection is often achieved through an applied chemical finish after the finished fabric has been completed. That, or the chemical finish can be added during the manufacturing process, being applied to the woven or knitted fibers directly. When these kinds of fabrics are exposed to flame, they undertake a specific process to mitigate the damage as quickly as possible. From chemical reactions that take place when a certain temperature has been reached, to charring (instead of burning) to off-gassing in order to prevent combustion, treated FR garments can provide protection in a variety of ways. However, where these treated fabrics can fall short is in the laundering and maintenance phase. Treated FR garments must be laundered and cared for in a very specific way, so as to not disrupt the chemical finish that was applied during manufacturing. Exposure to elements like chemical bleach, hydrogen peroxide, hard water or oxidizing chemicals in the workplace can drastically reduce the effectiveness of the garment’s protection. Let's block ads! (Why?)