We cannot overstate the importance of your wardrobe choices when it comes to safe job sites. What you wear, such as fire-resistant clothing, can offer a layer of protection in case of an emergency. This clothing is a critical part of many industries' personal protective gear and saves lives daily. People working in any industry that involves exposure to open flames or heat sources need flame-resistant clothing each day.
Fire-resistant clothing, also known as FR clothing, protects the wearer from getting burned by having an extra layer between their skin and clothes. Understanding the importance of UL listed fire-resistant clothing will help you understand why it’s necessary on many job sites.
What Exactly Is UL?
Underwriter's Laboratories is a global independent product safety company that tests products in its labs to verify their safety performance. UL sets industry standards and makes sure that products meet those standards. To ensure the products' safe use, UL independently tests, certifies, and inspects the clothing and its manufacturing process.
When you see the UL Mark on a product or its packaging, you know that particular item has met rigorous safety standards that UL has set. The Mark signifies that the item meets or exceeds all applicable safety requirements after rigorous examination, and UL actually provides follow-up surveillance of manufacturing processes.
How Does It Work?
UL testing is the most stringent, reliable, and recognized fire-resistant clothing certification for commercial, industrial, and residential purposes. Knowing that your clothing has gon through such scrutiny provides a sense of assurance when on the job.
UL's rigorous testing procedures ensure that your fire-resistant clothing will stand up to any situation you might find yourself in. It tests fire-resistant certified garments against common workplace hazards. For instance, UL performs static burn tests to ensure penetration resistance, dynamic burn tests to gauge thermal abilities, and expansion and contraction tests to measure seam integrity. Their testing even includes impact testing to ensure the durability of each piece. When purchasing any fire-resistant item, you should know that the industry considers a UL listed item to be the gold standard.
What Makes Fire-Resistant Clothing?
Flame-resistant or fire-resistant clothing includes any garment with a specific design that aims to protect the wearer from flames and thermal injury. The construction of these clothes is also important to consider, as this determines the level of protection you can expect from them. Some FR clothing pieces are natural, while others are synthetic.
You can also consider clothes that feature fabrics that have undergone treatment with fire-resistant chemicals to be fire-resistant clothes. Still, they are not as effective at protecting you from a fire as clothing articles that have flame-resistant fibers woven into the fabric, such as wool. Even these materials that are naturally resistant to flames can undergo treatments with chemicals to boost their heat resistance and protective qualities.
When it comes to the construction of fire-resistant clothing, there are several different materials that manufacturers can use. Naturally occurring synthetic fibers can serve a purpose in this industry. The most common synthetic FR materials are:
Each of these materials has its unique set of characteristics and provides varying levels of protection against different types of flame. For instance, Nomex is well known for resisting oil and gasoline fires but does not provide much protection against electric arcs or flash fires. Kevlar's strength makes it perfect for military applications but less ideal in civilian settings since it doesn't offer as much protection against heat as other fabrics.
The most common natural FR fibers are:
Both types of materials do the same thing—they protect the wearer by making sure that the clothing does not continue to burn once removed from the heat source. It is equally as important that the material won't ignite easily. Additionally, you don't want the material to melt in any way. Serious injuries can come about due to the burning itself as well as any melted fabric. Consequently, it is crucial to test both aspects of each material.
Industries That Need Fire-Resistant Clothing
Fire protection is a vital component of any industry. This is because companies must take the necessary precautions to ensure that their workers remain protected from fires and any other dangers that may arise on the job. UL listed fire-resistant clothing is important for ensuring adequate workplace safety and avoiding OSHA violations in many industries.
Different types of industries require different types of fire protection, but they all require some form of fire defense to keep their employees safe. For example, the fire-resistant clothing that a fireman, welder, and chemist use are three very different things. But they all fall under the umbrella of fire-resistant clothing. Some other professionals who require FR clothing include:
- Chemical plant workers
- Oil and gas refinery workers
- Mine workers
- Pharmaceutical plant workers
The Difference Between Ignition and Fire Resistance
A flame-resistant garment must have a classification that corresponds to how much heat it will transmit through the fabric if it comes into contact with flames. By providing this information, the clothing classification can enable workers to make educated choices on their wardrobe pieces.
If your risk at work is exceptionally high, it’s best to wear several layers of fire-resistant clothing to maximize protection from heat and flames.
Don't Compromise on Safety
There are some flame-resistant clothing products that simply contain flame-resistant fibers but have not undergone testing to ensure they meet set standards. In order to ensure adequate protection against hazards, it’s best to invest in products that have gone through thorough testing. If you're looking for the safest fire-resistant clothing, look for a label that says, "UL Listed." This means the product has passed independent testing and is a certified piece.
We hope this article has helped you understand why it’s so important to use fire-resistant clothing. It can save your life and the lives of those around you. Not only does it protect against flames, but it can also guard against other hazards like sparks and molten metal splashes. It's clear that there are many benefits to wearing flame-resistant clothing. If you work in an industry where fire safety is critical (such as manufacturing), you should make sure all employees are wearing the right gear at all times while on duty.