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Eye Safety & Safety Glasses (Jan/Feb-24)
Protecting Employees When Performing Machine Operations (Nov/Dec-23)
Protecting Students from Machine Hazards (Jul/Aug-23)
Electrical Safety (May/Jun-23)
Machine Guarding (Jan/Feb-23)
Have We Learned Anything About Safety Over the Last Fifty Years? (Nov/Dec-22)
OSHA Annouces 2021 Top 10 Frequently Cited Standards (Sep/Oct-22)
Have You Conducted Your Periodic Lockout & Tagout Audit? (Jan/Feb-22)
Workplace Violence (Jul/Aug-21)
Do You or Your Supervisors Really Care About Worker Safety? (May/Jun-21)
Creating A Safety Culture (Nov/Dec-20)
Before You Purchase New Machinery (Sep/Oct-20)
Do You or Your Supervisors Really Care About Worker Safety? (May/Jun-20)
OSHA Issues Interim Guidance to Help Prevent Worker Exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Mar/Apr-20)
Have You Recently Conducted Your Required Safety & Health Program Audits? (Nov/Dec-19)
Does OSHA Cite Employers Equally? (May/Jun-19)
Are You Ready For The New Year? (Mar/Apr-19)
Creating a Safety Culture Means Staying Informed (Nov/Dec-18)
Safe Lifting Techniques (Sep/Oct-18)
Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Jul/Aug-18)
Do You Know How Old Your Tires Really Are? (Jan/Feb-18)
Risk Assessment & Premise Liability Insurance (Nov/Dec-17)
Forklift Safety – You Can Save A Life Today (Sep/Oct-17)
Protect Your Employees from Heat Stress Related Injuries (Jul/Aug-17)
Lockout-Tagout from a Manager’s Perspective (May/Jun-17)
Do Your Employees Really Know How to Use Personal Protective Equipment? (Mar/Apr-17)
OSHA & Lockout/Tagout (Nov/Dec-16)
OSHA Increases Their Penalties Towards Employers (Jul/Aug-16)
Do You Know What Your Experience Modification Rate Is? (May/Jun-16)
Machine Safety (Sep/Oct-15)
Lockout, Tagout & Tryout – Are You in Compliance? (Jul/Aug-15)
Forklift Safety Practices (May/Jun-15)
Using the Right Power Saw to Cut Plastic Materials (Mar/Apr-15)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-15)
Ergonomics (Sep/Oct-14)
Respiratory Protection . . . Does Your Program Protect? (May/Jun-14)
First Aid Program (Mar/Apr-14)
Working with Composite Materials Safely and Preventing Dermatitis (Jan/Feb-14)
Preventing Winter Slips, Trips and Falls (Nov/Dec-13)
The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication – Are You Ready For It? (Sep/Oct-13)
Safety & New Employee Orientation (Jul/Aug-13)
Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety (May/Jun-13)
Posting of OSHA Notices (Jan/Feb-13)
Staying Safe This Winter (Nov/Dec-12)
Personal Protection - Storage, Maintenance and Care (Sep/Oct-12)
Machine Safeguarding (Jul/Aug-12)
Is Your Lockout & Tagout Program Working? (May/Jun-12)
Getting Familiar with OSHA (Mar/Apr-12)
Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked? (Jan/Feb-12)
Accident Prevention, Does Your Company Have An Effective Program? (Nov/Dec-11)
Defining FR – Flame Resistant Fabrics (Jul/Aug-11)
OSHA's Flammable & Combustible Liquids (May/Jun-11)
Safety & Health Program Check-up (Jan/Feb-11)
OSHA Is My Friend (Nov/Dec-10)
OSHA Standard for Control of Hazardous Energy Sources? (Sep/Oct-10)
Lockout/Tagout Program (Jul/Aug-10)
Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders (May/Jun-10)
What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery (Mar/Apr-10)
Fasten Those Forklift Seat Belts (Jan/Feb-10)
My Back Hurts (Nov/Dec-09)
Fall Protection Program (Sep/Oct-09)
Accident Prevention & Investigation (Jul/Aug-09)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (May/Jun-09)
Carbon Monoxide Hazards (Mar/Apr-09)
OSHA Electrical Safety and Training (Jan/Feb-09)
Free Forklift ANSI Standards (Nov/Dec-08)
Worksite Fire Emergencies (Sep/Oct-08)
Machine Safety (Jul/Aug-08)
Ladder Safety (May/Jun-08)
Is Your Company on OSHA's Hit List?
OSHA Notifies Workplaces with High Injury and Illness Rates (Mar/Apr-08)
Safety Means . . . Never Having to Say You're Sorry (Jan/Feb-08)
Flammables and Combustible Liquids (Nov/Dec-07)
Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety (Sep/Oct-07)
Back Safety and Lifting (Jul/Aug-07)
Machine Guarding (May/Jun-07)
Your Hearing Keep it for a Lifetime (Mar/Apr-07)
Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way (Nov/Dec-06)
Would You Risk Your Employee's Life? (Sep/Oct-06)
How to Control Workers' Compensation Costs (Jul/Aug-06)
Compliance with 70E Electrical Standards (May/Jun-06)
OSHA Is on the Move (Mar/Apr-06)
Workplace Violence (Jan/Feb-06)
The Aging Workforce (Nov/Dec-05)
The Safety Paradox (Sep/Oct-05)
Machine Guarding (Jul/Aug-05)
Effective Risk Management (May/Jun-05)
Safety Is Everyone's Business (Mar/Apr-05)
New Year's Resolution Safety (Jan/Feb-05)
Safe Driving (Nov/Dec-04)
Terror In The Skies Revisited (Sep/Oct-04)
How They Got Hurt (Jul/Aug-04)
In-Plant Air Monitoring & Analysis (May/Jun-04)
Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (Mar/Apr-04)
Link to Article Archive (Jan/Feb-04)
A Supervisor's Duty (Nov/Dec-03)
Machine Safety – Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Sep/Oct-03)
Summer is Here (Jul/Aug-03)
Working Safely On Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) (May/Jun-03)
Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements? (Mar/Apr-03)
Methylene Chloride (Jan/Feb-03)
Safety Signs & Labels - Does Your Facility Comply? (Nov/Dec-02)
Indoor Air Quality (Sep/Oct-02)
When OSHA Arrives (Jul/Aug-02)
Facts About the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (May/Jun-02)
Workplace Fire Safety (Mar/Apr-02)
OSHA 300 Form (Jan/Feb-02)
Preparing for Disaster (Nov/Dec-01)
How Much is a Life Worth? (Sep/Oct-01)
Material Handling Programs (Jul/Aug-01)
It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin (May/Jun-01)
When You’ve Been Handed the Responsibility for Safety (Mar/Apr-01)
A Fresh Look at Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-01)
Safe Work Habits (Nov/Dec-00)
The Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (Sep/Oct-00)
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Jul/Aug-00)
Lockout/Tagout Program (May/Jun-00)
OSHA Violations, Citations and Penalties for 1998 (Mar/Apr-00)
Erogonomics and Machinery Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-00)
General Machine Principles (Nov/Dec-99)
Select issue:

SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Defining FR – Flame Resistant Fabrics

Non Flame Resistant fabrics, which make up the majority of the industrial garments in
today’s market, can and do ignite - which can turn a survivable situation into a fatality.

Today’s Industrial market has seen an increase in garments labeled FR – Flame Resistant, Fire Retardant, Flame Retardant etc. No matter how low the probability of an employee being exposed to an accidental thermal event the type of fabric that clothing is made from is extremely important. Non Flame Resistant fabrics such as cotton or poly cotton blends, which make up the majority of the industrial garments in today’s market, can and do ignite, which dramatically increases body burn percentage and can turn a survivable situation into a fatality.

In fact, government reports note that the majority of severe and fatal burn injuries are due to the individual’s clothing igniting and continuing to burn, not by the exposure itself. The best way to prevent an industrial uniform from igniting and burning is to ensure that the clothing is made from flame resistant fabric. By requiring industrial uniforms to be made from flame resistant fabric you can eliminate clothing ignition from the equation.

The next logical step then becomes researching and specifying what flame resistant fabrics are appropriate for the industrial uniforms to be made with. There are numerous fabrics available to the industrial community that claim to have flame resistant performance.

Your fabric choice should be the first specification made, regardless of the garment configuration or style, because the fabric ultimately determines how the uniform will perform in an unexpected thermal event and is directly related to the degree to which the wearer could be injured or burned.

There are a number of different aspects to how a garment performs in a thermal event, including fabric weight, construction, fiber composition and flame resistant technology. Some flame resistant fabrics allow a lot of thermal energy to pass through the fabric because they are lighter in weight with open weaves and, although the fabric does not ignite, they have a higher degree of body burn when tested on a thermal mannequin, yet the manufacturer can correctly advertise them as flame resistant.

There are a number of different tests, standards and regulations that measure the performance of fabrics for specific industries. For example there a several fabrics available in the market stated to self extinguish when tested to ASTM D6413. This is a vertical flame test method that fabrics must be subjected to in order to be defined as flame resistant for protective clothing, but the test method reveals no information on how the fabric will perform in a particular thermal event. Information on how long the fabric will be flame resistant or how insulating the fabric is to a thermal event is not defined under the standard.

Flame resistant fabrics are designed to protect against momentary hazards such as, Arc Flash, Molten Metal Splash and Flash Fire Hazards. A fabric that performs well in one or more of these thermal events may not perform as well in a different type of momentary exposure. Therefore using data for one type of thermal event to another does not insure performance. Meeting the minimum standards for Flame Resistant fabric is not enough. Currently the commercial market utilizes the NFPA 2112 standard and the ASTM F1930 test method to help evaluate Flame Resistant Fabrics for the Flash Fire hazard.

NFPA 2112 is the standard for flame resistant garments for protection of industrial personnel against flash fire. Under the test method, flame resistant fabrics are tested against a 2 calorie exposure for 3 seconds in which sensored mannequins are able to measure the extent and severity of body burn. They also must pass a vertical flame test after a 100 launderings and have a “char” length less than 4 inches. Thermal Protective Performance (TPP) also must be tested both with spacers and without.

When tested to this standard experts find significant variance in performance of flame resistant fabrics. A fabric can pass and be certified to NFPA 2112 as long as it measures less than 50% second and third degree burn. Two fabrics, for example one that tests to 49% body burn and a second fabric that tests to 10% body burn both meet the performance requirements for NFPA 2112.

Due to the varied performance of fabrics, it is critical that your flame resistant fabric choice be determined by proven industry consensus test methods at independent laboratories. The second critical piece in determining and specifying the flame resistant fabric to be utilized by your organization is market proven performance.

With the influx of generic and unproven fabrics, it is important to note that in researching available fabrics for your industrial operators, that the fabric manufacturer has a proven track record of performance.

The FR fabric used to construct the garment is a critical aspect of any protective clothing program since the fabric is a primary contributor to the protection, comfort and value equation. Therefore, it is important to understand the experience and capabilities of the flame resistant fabric manufacturer and the proven (or unproven) performance of the fabrics in the market. Key points for your consideration include years experience in flame resistant fabrics, guaranteed flame resistant for the life of the garment, continually test and certify FR fabrics, experienced technical staff, involvement in industry committees and a government certified laboratory.

In today’s industrial community, exposure to a flash fire through direct or indirect means can result in a garment fire and significant injury. The only way to protect employees from their clothing catching fire during a thermal event is to make sure that the clothing is flame resistant. When choosing Flame Resistant clothing it is essential that the fabric that garment is to be made from has a track record of proven performance in the conditions required. Specifying what fabric the industrial garments are to be made from should be the first and most important step in the process of defining your industrial uniform.

Guest written by Derek Sang, Business Development Manager, Bulwark Protective Apparel. Sang has been involved with the Flame Resistant Clothing market from the service, manufacturing and garment sides for over 15 years. Bulwark Protective Apparel is a division of VF Corporation, has been an industry leader for over 30 years and currently is the largest supplier of Flame Resistant shirts, pants, jeans, coveralls, jackets and other apparel.
He can be reached at 480-540-5350, E-mail:, Web:

For more information, click on the author link at the top of the page.

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