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All of us at Bulwark Protection are relentlessly committed to protecting those who protect us. As an essential business, we are grateful to continue operating during this time, so we can continue to serve you when you need it most. That includes fortifying our operations to ensure we are able to deliver the PPE you rely on to do your truly essential work. In addition, our Bulwark Protection experts are providing education and resources to help you stay ahead of the curve, so you can keep everyone on your watch safe. And because the world of safety is ever-evolving, we’ll be updating this page regularly. So be sure to check back often for the latest and greatest from our PPE experts.
As any fire service worker can tell you, fighting fires is complex. There’s more to it than you may think. And those complexities are further compounded by the environment where the fire burns. What we commonly refer to as “forest fires” or “wildfires” actually fall into two distinct categories: Wildlands and Wildlands Urban Interface (WUI). Wildlands fires are those that break out in uninhabited areas—often forests, but also prairies and other wilderness areas. WUI fires are fought at the intersection of those wilderness areas and occupied areas—places where people live, work and play. Each has its own set of complications and difficulties, and as such, each requires specific PPE to keep firefighters safe. Workrite Fire Service proudly offers garments that meet the standards for both.
Chemical testing methodology for Bulwark CP’s Swatch Kit
The swatch kit is a unique tool that allows you to test the chemicals used in your lab against Bulwark CP and FR/CP fabric. Our groundbreaking lab coats help protect against burn injuries caused by inadvertent chemical splashes by repelling small amounts of liquid chemicals. We’ve tested it against many common chemicals, but since they vary from lab to lab, we highly encourage you to run a test using the chemicals specific to your lab.
Your safety is our number one priority, so remember to exercise caution and be sure you’re wearing proper PPE when performing the test.
Here's how it's done:
1. Place two or more test specimens flat on a smooth, horizontal surface.
2. Carefully place a small drop (approx. 5 mm in diameter) on the test specimen, in three locations along the width of the fabric, approx. 1 1/2 inches apart.
3. The dropper tip should be held at a height of approx. 1/4 in from the fabric surface. (DO NOT TOUCH THE FABRIC WITH THE DROPPER TIP).
4. Observe the drops for 10 seconds.
5. Compare the drops to the AATCC 193 Visual Rating Guide below. We consider an A or B rating as passing.
Make no mistake—keeping FR on their backs falls squarely on your shoulders. In the United States, the responsibility for worker safety rests solely on the employer. In 1970, the OSH Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and established the “general duty clause,” which delegated authority to OSHA to set the rules for implementing the standard.
The General Duty Clause states:
(a) Each employer –-
(1) shall furnish to each of his or her employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
(2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.1
When OSHA was first established in 1970, existing private professional organizations had already begun publishing safety standards and best practices specific to their industries and/or hazards. So, rather than trying to address every possible scenario in which an employee could be hurt and how to manage each, OSHA looked to these well-established entities to define the specifics. In fact, many of OSHA’s permanent standards originated as national consensus standards developed by organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The General Duty Clause requires employers to be aware of all actual and potential workplace hazards and to take necessary precautions to protect their employees. The only problem is, it doesn’t tell employers how they are supposed to do it.
Therefore, it falls on the employer not just to follow the rules, but also to determine the rules that apply to them and to enforce those rules.
Overall, employers are responsible for:
1. Referring to the industry consensus standards that meet OSHA requirements
2. Determining which standards are applicable
3. Reading and understanding the standards
4. Finding the right PPE suitable to meet the standards
5. Ensuring PPE is compliant
6. Ensuring employees know how to—and do—use and care for their PPE properly.
So, if you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders—you’re not so far off. That’s why Bulwark arms you with FR training and expertise to help ease the pressure and keep your guys safe.
In labs across our country and around the globe, important work is being done. Each and every day, scientists are making discoveries that improve our world and saves lives. At Bulwark CP, it is our relentless pursuit to help protect the brilliant minds behind that work. We develop innovative PPE solutions that protect lab workers from inadvertent chemical splashes and thermal hazards, while allowing them to move freely and comfortably, all the discovery-driven day long. But while proper PPE is a crucial part of the protection equation, there’s more to lab safety than having the right gear. From allocating resources to developing failsafe processes, below is our experts’ list of 15 fundamental practices to ensure this environment of ingenuity is one of protection, too.
15 Fundamental Practices
1. Follow the written Environmental Health & Safety affairs (EH&S) policy statement.
2. Read your lab safety manual.
3. Organize a departmental committee of employees and management that meets regularly to discuss EH&S issues.
4. Allocate a portion of the departmental budget to safety.
5. Implement an EH&S orientation for all new employees.
6. Make learning to be healthier, safer and more environmentally friendly an integral part of your education, work and life.
7. Get involved in your safety program, make safety part of your day-to-day job and encourage your peers to do the same.
8. Be prepared for unannounced laboratory inspections.
9. Identify and correct hazardous conditions and unsafe practices.
10. Before conducting an experiment, ask yourself:
- What are the hazards or potential hazards?
- What regulatory standards apply to these hazards?
- What are the prudent practices, protective facilities and personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to minimize the risk of exposure to hazards?
11. Include health and safety considerations in every pre-experiment discussion.
12. Ensure that the appropriate PPE, such as flame-resistant or chemical-splash protective lab coat, is on hand and available when you need it.
13. Develop specific work practices for individual experiments, such as those that involve particularly hazardous materials and/or should only be conducted in a ventilated hood.
14. Don't allow experiments to run unattended unless they are failsafe.
15. Maintain an easily accessible safety library with relevant resources.
Arming your crew with the appropriate FR gear is a feat in itself. Navigating the ever-changing sea of standards? Now that’s another beast entirely. Bulwark is here to help you choose the right FR program by ensuring you have a thorough grasp on the standards and what they mean for you—and your crew.
When the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) introduced the term “Arc-Rated” or “AR” in its 2012 revision to NFPA 70E, it was a bit of a head-scratcher. The question on every safety manager’s mind was: what’s the difference between FR and AR? According to Bulwark’s Technical Training Manager, Derek Sang, the most basic and important thing to know when it comes to FR and AR is that all arc-rated clothing is flame resistant, but not all flame resistant clothing is arc-rated.
For a piece of clothing to be considered flame resistant, the fabric used to make the garment must withstand ignition and/or rapidly self-extinguish in order to protect the wearer from the dangers of flash fire, arc flash, molten metals and other hazards. In the event of a flash fire or arc flash, the FR PPE worn must resist catching fire, melting, and continuing to burn after the initial flash to act as a barrier between the wearer and the hazard.
The fabric used to create arc-rated clothing is subject to additional tests, above and beyond fabric labeled simply “FR.” Primarily, it is exposed to a series of arc flashes to determine how much energy the fabric is able to block before it would likely cause the wearer to obtain a 2nd degree burn, 50% of the time. The result of this test, expressed in calories, is known as the Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV).
Current standards for arc flash protection, detailed by NFPA 70E, state that all PPE clothing must also be flame resistant to qualify for an arc rating. In other words: all AR clothing is FR, but not all FR clothing is AR. This is because, based on the results of the series of tests outlined above, equipment rated FR may not always provide the adequate level of protection for workers who are at risk of encountering arc flashes. These employees—general industry electricians (70E)— must wear the appropriate level of AR clothing for the hazard, in order to reduce their risk of serious injury or death caused by an arc flash.
Workers in the oil and gas and electric utility industries frequently face flash fire, arc flash and heat stress hazards. But one hazard that may not be as talked about is cold stress. Cold stress occurs when skin temperature drops, lowering internal body temperatures and disabling the body’s ability to warm itself. It can lead to several medical conditions, including trench foot, chilblains, frostbite and hypothermia.
Warning signs of cold stress:
• Teeth chattering
• Cold, stinging, aching
• Loss of coordination
• Dilated pupils
• Slurred speech
• Disorientation and confusion
• Unusual fatigue
According to OSHA General Duty Clause, the responsibility for worker safety is squarely on the employer. According to Section 5(a)(1):
Each employer (1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees; (2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.
Tips on how you can reduce cold stress for you and your team:
• Train workers on the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and work practices to reduce cold stress risk
• Implement safe work practices
• Help workers who are used to working in warm areas build up a tolerance for working in the cold environment
• Schedule maintenance and repair jobs for warmer months
• Schedule cold-weather jobs for the warmer parts of the day
• Reduce the physical demands of workers
• Use relief workers or assign extra workers for long, demanding jobs
• Provide workers with warm liquids
• Provide workers with warm areas during peak cold periods
• Include a thermometer and chemical hot packs in first aid kits
• Train workers to avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin
• Monitor workers’ physical condition and have them monitor their coworkers
Another great method to keep workers safe from potential cold stress is to utilize a layering system. A layering system allows workers the flexibility to remain more comfortable and safer in a variety of conditions. As long as the layers are compliant to the assessed hazard and are layered correctly according to industry regulations. Try Bulwark Protection’s Arc Rating Calculator to see how your layers add up.
Here are a few critical considerations when layering FR/AR garments:
• Always layer FR/AR garments underneath FR/AR outerwear
• The arc rating of the outermost FR/AR layer must be sufficient to prevent break open and ignition of any flammable base layer
• Non-FR/AR outerwear should never be worn over FR/AR garments
Cold stress shouldn’t be a risk you and your team overlook. That’s why it’s not only important to incorporate a comprehensive layered PPE program, but to be aware of the warning signs of cold stress and how you can reduce the risk.