Although clothing manufacturers may advertise “fire retardant” clothing, there are industry and safety standards that must be adhered to. Wearing the wrong clothing can actually intensify a burn area. Many of the synthetic fibers used in clothing can ultimately melt when exposed to high temperatures.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that clothing designated as flame resistant must not contribute to the severity or extent of a burn. OSHA utilizes the standard set up by the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) to create its own guidelines. Electrical energy is given a value based upon the amount of electrical exposure per unit area for protection against electrical and arc flames. OSHA is expanding its guidelines for flame resistant clothing to include mandates and compliance.
It is imperative that workers in certain professions wear clothing that is resistant to fires. Firefighters, chemical workers, electricians, petroleum on-site employees and maintenance workers are some of the professionals that must protect themselves with fire retardant clothing. Standard protective clothing would include protective overalls, coats with fire resistant hoods, gloves and boots. Additional standard protective attire may be required for aviation workers, fueling station workers and race car pit crews.
Heat hazards should be identified at every job site, and all workers should be vigilant in wearing authorized fire resistant work gear to prevent accidents and to mitigate injuries. Safety crews should continue to assess work settings for potential hazards, such as flammable vapor clouds, equipment flaws and potential ignition points that could spark fires.