Meeting and Exceeding FR Safety Clothing Standards in the Workplace

FR safety clothing is an integral part of a safe and productive workplace, and rigorous standards and regulations exist to help guide your decisions for employee apparel and PPE. From light protection for low-hazard jobs to layered, enhanced protection for high-risk occupations and industries, FR safety clothing standards should be a top priority no matter the environment.

Before you can ensure you’re meeting these flame-resistant clothing standards, you need a clear understanding of workplace FR standards that dictate the level of protection your workers need to do their jobs safely and in compliance. We’ll start with an overview of FR clothing, how it works, and what it’s used for, then cover the apparel standards you must meet or exceed to be in compliance.

What Is FR Clothing?

How does FR clothing work? FR clothing is designed with special materials that self-extinguish in the presence of engulfing flash fire or electrical discharge once the ignition source is removed, preventing further injury caused by clothing burning or melting against the skin. Non-FR clothing continues to burn or melt even when the ignition source is removed.

So how long is FR clothing good for? FR clothing is warrantied for up to 25 washes, at which point the integrity of the material may be compromised enough to limit wearer protection and no longer adhere to workplace safety standards. Garments damaged (rips, broken pieces, discoloration, etc.) before 25 washes are no longer functional as protective apparel and should be retired from use. However, inherently flame-resistant garments will last far longer than 25 washes and will never lose their protective properties, unless damaged beyond repair.

FR Safety Clothing Standards

FR clothing that meets the required flame-resistant clothing standards will be tested and rated for high visibility or protection against electric arc and flash fire risks. The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) dictate the basic standards that FR workplace apparel must meet to adequately protect workers from electric arcs, flash fires, and low-visibility working environments.

Here’s a look at the general standards FR safety clothing must meet in different circumstances (U.S. equivalents in parentheses):

  • CGSB-155.20 (NFPA 2112): Covers flash fire protection standards for vertical flammability, thermal protective performance (TPP), thermal stability, and heat resistance, laundering durability, and limits predicted body burn to 40% when tested.
  • CSA Z462 (NFPA 70E): Covers electric arc flash protection standards when potential incident energy exposure is over 1.2cal/cm2, meeting ASTM F1959 standards to rate garments in terms of arc thermal protective value (ATPV) by meeting vertical flammability, breaking load, tear resistance, laundering durability, and labeling requirements with displayed ATPV and fabric ID.
  • CSA Z96 (ANSI/ISEA 107): Covers high-visibility safety apparel standards with fluorescent or bright background color, retroreflective X-pattern on the back and/or bands on legs, minimum square meter coverage, and photometric class level (FR, 1, or 2).

Arc-rated clothing is also standardized by PPE categories (CAT) 1-4 which indicate the required minimum arc rating and the number/type of layers needed for protection. The potential incident energy exposure risk for a specific job or piece of equipment dictates which CAT is needed for workers.

  • CAT 1: Single, full-body AR layer; 4cal/cm2 minimum arc rating
  • CAT 2: Single, full-body AR layer + face shield or balaclava; 8cal/cm2 minimum arc rating
  • CAT 3: Single, full-body AR layer + AR hood; 25cal/cm2 minimum arc rating
  • CAT 4: Full-body AR layers + AR hood; 40cal/cm2 minimum arc rating

There may be additional standards issued by provincial boards that supersede federal regulations, so be sure to do your research.

Meeting and Exceeding FR Safety Standards

Working with a trusted, premium corporate FR clothing supplier like MWG Apparel is the easiest way to ensure you’re meeting or exceeding FR safety standards in your workplace. While some manufacturers don’t do third-party testing or mislabel garments with false certifications, MWG Apparel works with industry-leading testing and research center Aitex to ensure all garments meet or exceed standards (standalone and in layered combinations).

In a hazardous work environment, it’s essential to have the right gear for the job. It’s even better if that gear exceeds the safety requirements and is comfortable to wear. If you want to maximize your safety, browse MWG Apparel’s premium FR clothing now.
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