What is FR Clothing?
Flame Resistant (FR) garments are made from durable fabric that self-extinguishes and provides thermal insulation to the wearer and are designed to protect workers against extreme temperatures in the case of arc or flash fires. FR fabric does not ignite, burn, melt or drip when exposed to a flame. Although FR clothing will resist flame, it is important to note that FR clothing is fire resistant, not fire proof.
Understanding ENA NENS 09-2014
The Energy Networks Association’s (ENA) NENS 09-2014 is an Australian national guideline for the selection, use and maintenance of personal protective equipment for electrical arc hazards. Although it is not an Australian Standard, and therefore full compliance is not required, it provides a comprehensive guide to minimum levels of personal protective equipment required to protect workers against electrical hazards. NENS 09-2014 explains apparel design and features, material performance requirements and testing methods and compliance requirements for FR garments.
Environments that require FR Clothing
Workers should wear FR clothing if they are to be exposed to the risk of hazards such as arc flashes (electricians, electric utility lineman, etc.), flash fires (refinery, chemical and pharmaceutical workers, etc.), or combustible dust (workers in food processing, paint, and many more industries). Plus workers who come in contact with energised electrical equipment or radiant heat.
Arc flashes occur when an electrical current leaves its path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, causing an explosion. An arc flash can occur from accidental contact with electrical systems, build-up of conductive dust, corrosion, dropped tools, or improper work procedures. Exposure to an arc flash can result in serious burn injuries or even death.
A flash fire occurs when air combines with a flammable substance and ignites. Flash fires have extremely high heat, a short duration and a rapidly moving flame. Flash fires are often catastrophic, causing extreme damage, injury and in some cases, death.
Thermal Performance Value
Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV) is the minimum arc rating of the clothing, measured in calories per cm² (cal/cm²). The higher the value, the more insulated the garment is, therefore providing greater protection to the wearer.
Hazard Risk Categories (HRC)
Employers should conduct a Hazard Risk Assessment to determine the level of protection employees need to wear to stay safe when performing a task. HRC levels are determined by testing electrical equipment to assess the potential of an explosion or ARC flash. Like ARC ratings, this is also measured in cal/cm². The equipment is then rated with a HRC to ensure that the worker is wearing higher protection that the potential energy that could be outputted in the case of an explosion or ARC flash.
Hazard/Risk Category 1
Arc-rated FR shirt and FR pants or FR Coverall (1 layer).
Min Arc Rating REQUIRED (cal/cm2): 4
Hazard/Risk Category 2
Arc-rated FR shirt and FR pants or FR Coverall (1 or 2 layers).
Min Arc Rating REQUIRED (cal/cm2): 8
Hazard/Risk Category 3
Arc-rated FR shirt and FR pants or FR Coverall and arc flash suit selected so that the system arc rating meets the required minimum (2 or 3 layers).
Min Arc Rating REQUIRED (cal/cm2): 25
Hazard/Risk Category 4
Arc-rated FR shirt and FR pants or FR Coverall and arc flash suit selected so that the system arc rating meets the required minimum (3 or more layers).
Min Arc Rating REQUIRED (cal/cm2): 40
Caring for FR Clothing
It is best to allow FR clothing to be laundered by professionals. Chlorine bleach and other hydrogen peroxides can be found in some detergents which can degrade the FR properties of the garment. Furthermore, industrial launders should remove all potentially flammable materials that can build up on a garments surface.
Bisley Premium FR clothing
ATOM has chosen to partner with Bisley as their primary FR clothing supplier due to Bisley’s premium product. Bisley FR clothing is made using TenCate fabrics, the world leaders in FR fabric production. TenCate fabric utilises the highest quality branded fibers and is made in the USA. They test to safety standards in the USA and Europe that exceed our Australian Standards and are UL Certified, one of the highest certifications a mill can have.
Contact ATOM Safety today to find out how Bisley’s FR clothing can make your workplace safer.