Flame Resistant Clothing: Q&A

Posted on: 29 January 2016


Flame-resistant clothing has the ability to resist ignition when exposed to a heat source. These specialized garments can even extinguish themselves if a fire does occur. Still, some people are not aware of many of the attributes and details concerning flame-resistant clothing from a company like Oil & Gas Safety Supply. Here are a few questions and answers about these specialized garments:

Who uses flame-resistant clothing?

Flame-resistant clothing is commonly used by people who work in an environment that include an ignition hazard. People who don these garments usually work around chemicals or electrical equipment that could cause a fire. They include pharmaceutical employees, laboratory specialists, electricians and processing plant workers.

What is an arc thermal protection value (ATPV)?

An arc thermal protection value is assigned to flame- resistant clothing to indicate how resistant the clothing is to ignition when exposed to a flash from an electrical arc discharge. The ATPV is measured in calories per square centimeter of the garment and it indicates the maximum performance ability of the garment. To find clothing that is most resistant to ignition from an electrical source, look for a high ATPV number. It indicates a greater level of protection. The arc thermal protection value is often located on the label of the clothing, but if you are unable to locate the value, contact the clothing manufacturer. The company should be able to provide a number for each of its flame resistant clothing products.

Why are some articles of flame-resistant clothing with the same ATPV heavier than others?

In addition to the rating of a garment, different categories of protection may be required based on the type of job that is being performed. Some flame resistant clothing is double layered for additional protection. The type of flame resistant clothing required is often dictated by the employer.

The employer usually bases safety requirements on the level of exposure to an ignition source and the likelihood of that source igniting the clothing of the employees. Many employers conduct safety tests to determine the level of hazard involved in a particular job. Some jobs, such as electrical work, will usually have a high rating due to the likelihood of electrical energy causing a flash.

Is it illegal for certain workers not to wear flame-resistant clothing?

Although a worker is not permitted to wear clothing that can contribute to his or her injury,  the requirement of flame-resistant clothing is often dependent on how the employer views the hazardous attributes of the clothing. Still, to avoid liability issues, most employers choose a high level of protection for their employees and may require them to wear flame-resistant garments.

If you are considering the purchase of flame-resistant clothing, contact an industrial supplier in your area.