For a long time, flame retardant means bulky and ugly. Fortunately, FR clothing has become more fashionable in the past few years. You can now find FR jeans, shirts, polo shirts, T-shirts and hoodies. Their designs are both beautiful and protective.
Most of these lighter garments provide a lower degree of protection. However, it is a good way to add key fire resistance to clothing by stacking them in jackets or work clothes with high radian grade. If the coat is burned or damaged, this type of layering can help protect the wearer, prevent burns and reduce the severity of the injury.
Flame retardant clothing should always be slightly loose. Tight clothing is easier to transfer heat to the skin, which will lead to more serious burns and injuries. Loose clothes form a layer of air between the clothes and the skin, which helps to insulate the heat and improve the protective performance of the clothes.
Workwear as a whole doesn’t need to have a protective quality other than to be durable and protect the wearer from day to day work based activities. However you can get Workwear which has a specific protection quality such as work trousers, these tend to be more durable to reduce hazards such as sharp objects from the cutting the skin.
Whereas other products such as flame resistant t-shirts are commonly mistaken as Workwear, however, are actually classed as PPE, as these products are designed to protect the wearer from more than daily use. All items of PPE are regulated by EN ISO ratings such as EN20471 / EN471 for high visibility.
Workwear shirts are made from high quality materials which are intended to last longer against the wear and tear of the working environment. Usually made from materials such as cotton, polyester and specialty fabrics. The specialty fabric tends to place the Workwear shirt into the PPE category as these will have special protective properties.
Workwear offers the wearer a standard level of protection which would not be covered under Health and Safety EN regulations. Whereas PPE is the types of products which are covered under these EN regulations, regulations such as EN471 / EN20471 are for high visibility clothing. Products which are covered under the EN471 / EN20471 regulations tend to be made of a specially designed reflective material, these can be all manner of items from work trousers to gloves.
Most uniforms consist of a range of items from boots to t-shirts. Starting at the feet, many companies require their employees to wear some form of protective footwear depending on the environment, steel or composite toe cap boots/shoes are usually worn. Next would be a pair of work trousers, shorts or a skirt, with anything from a formal shirt to a t-shirt for the upper body. Although each workplace is different the overall uniform design is relatively the same, excluding PPE based items such as hard hats, safety footwear and gloves, these items really depend on the environment.
Uniforms do not need to be provided by the employer, however, items that are considered PPE must be provided at no cost to the employee. This can be found in Section 9 of Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, "No employer shall levy or permit to be levied on any employee of his any charge in respect of anything done or provided in pursuance of any specific requirement of the relevant statutory provisions". – Source HSE.
Workwear covers a broad range of clothing from trousers to t-shirts, however, the standard provides qualities you will find with Workwear are as followed. Durability from high quality materials, this also helps with longevity, ensuring this product last throughout the years. Other qualities usually come down to the thickness of the materials and their resistance from wear and tear, especially along the seams.
Some qualities such as flame resistance, chemical resistance, high visibility and much more can be found on many items of Workwear. However, these will be classed under PPE as they are rated under health and safety EN ratings.
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Flame retardant (FR) coveralls are designed to protect workers from two key hazards: flash fires and electric arc flashes
1. The science behind FR clothing is that when a fuel source is exposed to heat, it breaks down into gaseous components. Oxygen reacts with the gas that is formed, producing heat that breaks down more fuel into gases, and this cycle continues. FR clothing is designed to break this cycle by preventing combustion. It does this by self-extinguishing and by maintaining a stable barrier between the heat source and the skin
2. The coveralls are made of special fabrics that are inherently flame resistant or have been treated with a flame-retardant chemical. When exposed to heat or flame, the fibers of the fabric swell and become thicker, forming a protective barrier between the heat source and the skin. This barrier reduces the amount of heat that reaches the skin and gives the worker extra time to escape the hazard.