Flame resistant (FR) workwear is designed to protect workers when they are exposed to flash fire, electric arc flash or molten splash in any industrial environment. In such risky and dangerous situations, wearing the right FR clothing can make all the difference between safety and serious injury or death.
A momentary electric arc, flash fire or molten metal splash exposure can within seconds, surround a worker with searing temperatures that will ignite everyday non-flame resistant workwear instantaneously. Worse yet, non-FR workwear will continue to burn even after the source of ignition has subsided causing severe and fatal burn injuries.
However, the use of flame resistant clothing can provide the necessary thermal protection to workers at the moment of exposure. Once the source of ignition is removed, flame resistant garments will self-extinguish, greatly limiting the severity of a burn and preventing workplace fatalities.
It is important to verify the quality and safety of the materials and fabrics used to construct FR workwear. Various tests are available that can analyse these fabrics through standard tests, and certify and categorise the safety ability of FR materials.
FR or Flame Retardant and Flame Resistant is defined as the ability of a fabric or material to not combust when exposed to flame and also to self-extinguish once the ignition source (flame) is removed.
Types of fibres used in FR (Fabrics)
- Inherent: Flame resistance is an essential characteristic of the fibres from which a fabric is made, and cannot be washed out or worn out (e.g. Nomex and Tecasafe Plus)
- Chemically Treated: A chemical treatment is applied to the raw material that changes the original level of FR, and will reduce over time due to the chemical being washed out of the fabric (e.g. PROBAN - Banwear and Ultra-Soft)
Expressed in calories/cm², one cal/cm² is equivalent to the exposure of the tip of a finger to a lit match in one second. Exposure energy of 1-2 cal/cm² will cause a second degree burn on human skin.
Arc rating is the measurement of the maximum exposure energy resistance demonstrated by a material (or a layered system of materials) prior to break open, or at the onset of a second degree skin burn. Typical non FR workwear can ignite at ratings as low as two cal.
Arc Thermal Performance Value
ATPV is the exposure energy on a material that results in sufficient heat transfer through the material for a 50% probability of the onset of a second degree burn. An ATPV rating is assigned to FR clothing to indicate the level of protection provided. The higher the rating (cal/cm²), the greater the protection available.
Hazard Risk Category
HRC is a rating range directly related to ATPV. There are 5 HRCs on a scale of 0 to 4 with a hazard risk of ‘0’ presenting the least risk and a hazard risk of ‘4’ being the greatest level of risk.
Inherent FR materials
Engineered to provide unbeatable electric arc and flash fire protection that lasts longer than FR treated cotton fabrics, TenCate Tecasafe plus is a soft and lightweight fabric designed for excellent comfort.
- Built-in inherently flame resistant FR properties won’t wash or wear out
- Exceeds NFPA 70E HRC 2 and NFPA 2112 performance standards
- Soft, flexible and breathable fabric is comfortable to wear
- Specially engineered to provide excellent moisture management properties that keep the wearer cooler by naturally wicking moisture away from the skin
- Excellent abrasion resistance and better strength retention after multiple commercial washes
- Long lifecycle and competitive pricing for lower cost of ownership
- High visibility AS/NZS1906.4, ANSI 107 and CSA Z96 compliant
- Made with LenzingTencel environment-friendly cellulose fibre
Walls FR materials incorporate patented flame resistant technology developed specifically to leverage the durability and endothermic properties of nylon for long wear life and improved flame protection. Designed to deliver comfort, protection and long wear life, Walls FR fabrics deliver excellent protection at a low cost.
PROBAN is a chemically treated cotton fabric designed to protect the wearer from a range of workplace hazards such as arc flash, flash fire and molten ferrous metal splash as well as exposure to welding and wildland firefighting. The PROBAN process ensures the fabrics are guaranteed for flame resistance for the life of the garment.
ALu-SAFE is a unique high performance workwear fabric developed specifically to protect workers in primary aluminium smelters who are exposed to the hazards and dangers of molten aluminium and cryolite splash. ALu-SAFE also offers protection against hazards such as radiant and convective heat and electric arc.
The FR workwear range from Elliotts is made using materials such as Tecasafe plus and Walls FR workwear along with Nomex, PBI and PROBAN.