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Flame-resistant (FR) Workwear FAQs

General Frequently Asked Questions About Flame-Resistant (FR) Workwear

Make sure you have the right protective clothing on hand for your application. See below for a list of the most frequently asked questions about FR workwear. Still have questions? Contact Technical Product Support at 1-800-874-4755 or send an email by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions
 

1. What is NFPA 70E?
2. Is an employer required to comply with NFPA 70E?
3. When should FR clothing be worn?
4. What is the Cal Rating in comparison to an ATPV?
5. What is a Hazard Risk Category (HRC)?
6. Is clothing clearly labeled with the ATPV rating?
7. Is a 100% cotton garment a good alternative to FR clothing?
8. What should be worn under FR clothing?
9. FR clothing is typically blended with nylon. Can the nylon melt?
10. How should FR clothing be cleaned?
11. How should FR clothing be repaired?
12. How often does FR clothing have to be replaced?
13. When should a FR garment be taken out of service?
14. Can FR clothing be used for welding, wild land firefighting or structural firefighting?

 

1. What is NFPA 70E?
National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 70E is the Standard for Electrical Safety Equipment for Employee Workplaces. It requires employees to wear flame-resistant clothing whenever there is possible exposure to an electric arc flash. Although it is currently a voluntary standard, NFPA 70E is considered “generally acceptable” industry standard and OSHA will enforce it under their General Duty clause.


2. Is an employer required to comply with NFPA 70E?
No, NFPA 70E is a national consensus safety standard published by NFPA primarily to assist OSHA in preparing electrical and arc flash safety standards. OSHA has not incorporated it into the Code of Federal Regulations, but will cite or incorporate the law if an accident occurs.


3. When should FR clothing be worn?
It is the responsibility of the employer to understand the hazards in the workplace and associated with the job. The employers should perform a hazard assessment to determine what type of hazards are present and the type of protective clothing to be worn.

The employer will need to reference NFPA 70E 2004 edition, table 130.7(C)(9)(a) to determine the hazard category and the table 130.7(C)(10) of the standard to determine the type of clothing and equipment required based on the Hazard Risk Category (HRC). Once the ATPV rating is determined, simply find a garment with an ATPV rating that meets or exceeds the requirements.


4. What is the Cal Rating in comparison to an ATPV?
A Cal Rating and Arc Thermal Protection Factor are one in the same. They are mathematical equations that help determine the level of protection needed to prevent a second degree burn.


5. What is a Hazard Risk Category (HRC)?
Hazard Risk Categories are used to determine what type of arc rated garment should be worn given the amount of energy that may be involved with a particular job or task.  NFPA has identified four hazard risk category levels, which range in severity from 1 to 4.  Each level is rated at a certain amount of flame resistance and is measured in cal/cm2.

  • HRC 1 requires a minimum arc rating for PPE of 4 cal/cm2. This level typically requires a FR shirt and FR pants or FR coveralls for a total of 1 layer of FR protection. 
  • HRC 2 requires a minimum arc rating for PPE of 8 cal/cm2. This level requires cotton underwear plus a FR shirt and FR pants, for a total of 1 or 2 layers of FR protection. 
  • HRC 3 requires a minimum arc rating for PPE of 25 cal/cm2. This level requires cotton underwear plus a FR shirt and FR pants and FR coveralls, or cotton underwear plus two FR coveralls.  This gives the wearer either 2 to 3 layers of FR protection.   
  • HRC 4 requires a minimum arc rating for PPE of 40 cal/cm2. This level requires cotton underwear plus a FR shirt and FR pants, plus multilayer flash suit, typically providing 3 or more layers of FR protection. 


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6. Is clothing clearly labeled with the ATPV rating?
Yes, FR clothing is required to have the ATPV rating on the tag.


7. Is a 100% cotton garment a good alternative to FR clothing?
Garments made of 100% cotton are flammable and can burn easily. Other fabrics such as nylon and polyester fibers can burn even more quickly.


8. What should be worn under FR clothing?
FR clothing should always be the outer most layer of clothing, not doing so may compromise the level of protection of the FR clothing system. FR can be worn over non-melting fabrics such as 100% cotton, wool or silk or other FR materials. Synthetic materials should not be worn under FR clothing.


9. FR clothing is typically blended with nylon. Can the nylon melt?
The nylon is typically blended with the FR material in an 88/12 ratio. The 12% nylon is there to give the garment some abrasion resistance and has been treated so that it will not melt.


10. How should FR clothing be cleaned?
Most flame resistant clothing can be laundered using “normal” detergents; however, it is best to check the label on the FR clothing for washing instructions before laundering. Do not use bleach or fabric softener on FR garments. Garments should also be laundered separate from other clothing, particularly if contaminated.


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11. How should FR clothing be repaired?
FR garments should be repaired with FR materials and components consistent with the original materials in the garment. Repairing FR garments with non-FR thread or fabric can compromise the performance of the garment.


12. How often does FR clothing have to be replaced?
The life of FR clothing depends on the type of fabric used and the quality of construction of the garment. The industry standard for FR clothing is that it will withstand 100 washings; however the life may be even longer depending to the manufacturer. Garments should be replaced when they are beyond repair, contaminated or no longer look good aesthetically.


13. When should a FR garment be taken out of service?
Garments should be removed from service when they have holes or tears that cannot be repaired, or when the fabric has thinned or become thread bare. Any garment that has become contaminated with a flammable substance should be removed from service if it cannot be cleaned or decontaminated.


14. Can FR clothing be used for welding, wild land firefighting or structural firefighting?
No, different standards apply to these applications.
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