Companies are duty bound to assess the risk and provide protective gear and work uniforms to mitigate those risks. To ensure the safety of employees working in electric power generation, transmission and distribution, which includes maintenance staff that work with breakers, employers need to be aware of the importance of flame resistant work uniforms. If you are a safety engineer, safety manager, plant manager, HR director, or in operations, this blog can help you keep your employees safe and insurance premiums down.
OSHA Flame Resistant Requirements
Below is the short version of OSHA’s CFR 29 standard for flame resistant (FR) clothing:
- Employers must ensure that employees exposed to hazards from flames or electric arcs do not wear clothing that could melt onto their skin – clothing prohibited includes that which is made from acetate, nylon, polyester, rayon and polypropylene, either alone or in blends, unless the employer demonstrates that the fabric has been treated to withstand the conditions that may be encountered by the employee or that the employee wears the clothing in such a manner as to eliminate the hazard involved
- Employers ensure that the outer layer of clothing worn by an employee is flame resistant under any of the following conditions: the employee is exposed to contact with energized circuit parts operating at more than 600 volts an electric arc could ignite flammable material in the work area that, in turn, could ignite the employee’s clothing, if molten metal or electric arcs from faulted conductors in the work area could ignite the employee’s clothing, or the incident heat energy estimated under paragraph (l)(8)(ii) of this section exceeds 2.0 cal/cm2
- Employers must ensure that each employee exposed to hazards from electric arcs wears protective clothing and other protective equipment with an arc rating greater than or equal to the heat energy that exceeds 2.0 cal/cm2
NFPA 70E Requirements
Additionally, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has created the 70E standard that is a recommended industry practice by OSHA. Here is a good summary of the NFPA 70E clothing requirements and common misconceptions.
Flame Resistant Work Uniform Rentals
We rent and launder some of the industry’s highest quality and leading flame resistant clothing that self-extinguishes, which is useful for an employee working in close proximity to open flame, molten metal or electric arcs. Many serious burns are actually caused by improper work uniforms more than the source of heat itself so the right work uniform rental helps reduce burn severity and often prevents an injury in the first place.
We also walk the talk: all of our maintenance team members wear work uniforms made from a flame resistant 88% cotton/12% nylon fabric.
Important Note: flame resistance work uniforms are not interchangeable. The level of protection will vary between different brands and articles of clothing based on weight and design.
We also offer high and enhanced visibility work uniform rentals to further ensure employee safety.