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Flame-Resistant Clothing for the Flash Fire Hazard: Care, Use and Maintenance

Even the most comprehensive safety program can only mitigate—not eliminate—risk associated with the flash fire hazard. A reliable and controllable means of protecting employees from harm is the proper use of PPE. In a flash fire context, flame resistant clothing provides further protection and offers a foundational defense. This paper guides safety managers and purchasers in the selection, use, care and maintenance of clothing for flash fire protection that’s compliant with the industry consensus standard NFPA® 2112.

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What is the difference between NFPA® 2113 vs. 2112?

NFPA® 2112 is the well-known and often quoted safety standard to those who work in the Oil & Gas Industry — no matter where they fall in the stream. And while 2112 is an important standard on how to specify the minimum performance requirements and test methods for flame-resistant fabrics and components, it does not provide any guidance for the selection, use, care, and maintenance of FR clothing. NFPA® 2113 is your go-to safety standard in regard to building your FR clothing program.

NFPA® 2113 walks safety professionals through their hazard assessment, explains how to specify clothing based on the requirements of NFPA® 2112. NFPA 2113 is where you will find proper care and maintenance addressed. NFPA® 2112 lays out the minimum performance requirements and test methods that FR garments must meet in order to enter the market, while NFPA® 2113 focuses on minimizing the health and safety risks by choosing the correct garment based on the proper selection criteria and how to properly wear FR garments in the field.

In addition to proper care and maintenance, NFPA 2113 stipulates the training guidelines that help ensure your program is in compliance with OSHA 1910.132, the often cited regulation when FR clothing programs fail to meet OSHA requirements.

Even though NFPA 2112 may get all the headlines and recognition as a safety professional NFPA 2113 is your go-to standard.

Get in touch with a Bulwark representative.

Industry News
Top 10 Laundry Tips

As most of us know all too well, there’s no such thing as wash-and-go when it comes to caring for your PPE. Proper care and maintenance of FR/AR clothing is essential to its effectiveness. Most industry standards recommend following compliant garment manufacturers’ instructions, while others offer more specific guidance. To keep it simple, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 tips to maximize your PPE’s FR protection, wash after wash.

Read on to see our Top 10 Laundry Tips:

1. Do not use any kind of bleach or peroxide

2. Do not use any additive that could build up and impede FR performance such as fabric softeners or starch.

3. Wash FR/AR garments separately

4. Turn FR/AR garments inside out to help color retention and preserve appearance

5. Use liquid detergent for best results

6. Avoid the hottest washing and drying temperatures to reduce the impact of shrinkage

7. For tough stains, soak garments in liquid detergent or non-bleach, non-peroxide pre-wash stain removers before laundering.

8. For even tougher stains, FR garments may be dry cleaned

9. Tumble dry on low setting and do not over dry

10. Rewash garments with lingering odor

Stay Informed

The best defense for you and your team is to stay educated on how you can reduce injury in the case of an arc flash. The Bulwark Protection PPE experts provide a wide range of tools and resources on how to select the right FR and tips on how to properly implement a safety program.

  • OSHA 1910.269
  • Selection, Use, Care and Maintenance of FR Clothing
  • NFPA 70E
  • Arc Rating Calculator
Free Home Wash Magnet

Our free FR Home Wash magnet is packed with FR laundering quick tips. Request your free magnet to learn more, and keep it handy wherever you launder your garments.

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Bulwark FR Handbook

For industries operating in an inherently dangerous environment, the importance of selecting the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can’t be understated. Our FR Handbook is a guide for safety managers, or whoever is tasked with ensuring the safety of their workers, through the process of selection, implementation, care, and maintenance and to outline the various FR (Flame-Resistant) and AR (Arc-Rated) clothing options that are available and compliant with the many regulations, responsibilities, and requirements.

Insect Shield® FAQs

Bulwark is thrilled to introduce our new line of Bulwark FR clothing with Insect Shield® technology, with protection guaranteed to last through 50 washes. To help introduce this innovative technology, we put together a fact sheet that answers your top Insect Shield questions. It covers everything from what types of bugs the garments repel, to how to properly launder and care for your garments. When it comes to answering your questions, we’ve got you covered.

Fill out the form below to download the sheet.

Washing Flame Resistant High Visibility at Home
Industry News
What’s in a Label?

When it comes to FR, the answer is: more than you might think. Even after assessing hazard risks and selecting the appropriate FR clothing, it also falls on the employer to ensure that each garment truly matches the hazard it’s designed to protect against. That’s why it’s especially important to identify proper labeling on the part of the manufacturer as an indicator that the garment is, indeed, fully compliant.

Read on to learn what to look for on your FR labels.

NFPA® and ASTM labeling requirements are strict, but not everyone follows the rules. Fraudulently labeled FR garments can often be identified by their violation of the standards. According to ASTM F1506 6.3, FR garments must be labeled with the following information:

6.3.1 Meets requirements of Performance Specification F1506

6.3.2 Manufacturer’s Name

6.3.3 Fabric Identifier

6.3.4 Garment Tracking and Identification Code

6.3.5 Size and other associated standard labeling

6.3.6 Care instructions and fiber content

6.3.7 Arc rating (ATPV) or arc rating (Ebt)

6.3.7.1 When garments are made with a different number of fabric layers in different areas of the garment, the arc rating for each area shall be designated. Pockets, trim, closures, seams, labels, and heraldry shall not be considered as extra layers.

That’s a lot of label, but it shows specific compliance, as opposed to labels that are misleading or omit critical information.

NFPA 2112, Chapter 4 provides clear requirements for shirts, pants, coveralls and outerwear. In addition to bearing the mark of the 3rd party certifier, the following words and the edition of the standard must appear on the label of a certified garment:

“This garment meets the requirements of NFPA 2112, Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for the Protection of Industrial Personnel against Flash Fire, 2012 Edition. NFPA 2113 requires upper and lower body coverage.”

Beware of subtle changes in wording on the label that claim to meet a portion of the standard, but do not meet all requirements. For example, the following language does not meet the requirements of NFPA 2112:

“This garment meets the performance requirements of NFPA 70E-2009, ASTM F1506-02ae1, NFPA 2112-2007.”

There’s one more way to be sure your FR gear is fully compliant: Visit the UL website, where you can query to ensure that the garment has, in fact, been certified by UL.

While it may seem nitpicky, these standards for FR labeling are very important. They are designed to protect the FR provider and FR wearer from purchasing and wearing fraudulent FR garments, which do not meet the minimum requirements of FR safety.

Make a habit of reading your labels. Because when it comes to protecting yourself and your crew from the hazards associated with the job, you can never be too careful.

Safety Updates
The ABC’s of PPE

Building a PPE program that meets all safety requirements and meets your personal needs is no easy task. You must select the right garments based on the unique hazards of your industry, in addition to important factors like comfort, durability and laundering. But even the best PPE program in the world is ineffective without the proper implementation and training. Below, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step process for designing, implementing and maintaining your PPE program.

Hazard Assessment
The first step in the creation of any PPE program is the Hazard Assessment. Federal regulations require employers to assess the workplace to determine if hazards that require the use of personal protective equipment are present or are likely to be present. Using the Hazard Assessment Checklist, you will conduct a walk-through survey of the workplace to identify potential hazards. These include impacts, combustible dust, fire/heat, and chemical hazards, among others. When conducting your assessment, be sure to consider workplace, procedural, and environmental hazards.

Selecting the Right PPE
Once you’ve established the need for PPE, it’s time to determine the degree of protection required based on your particular hazards. We do this by matching the hazard to the regulations, which inform what, if any, PPE is required. Industry consensus standards may be used to guide selection decisions, and the best way to cite these standards is by industry. For the main industries Bulwark serves, the hazards and standards are as follows:

Oil & Gas, which includes exploration, drilling, field services, refinement, and chemical, faces the known hazard of flash fire, a rapidly moving flame front that expands through diffuse fuel without creating blast pressure.

NFPA® 2112 and NFPA® 2113 are the “go-to” industry consensus standards that address flash fire. NFPA® 2113 focuses on how organizations and employers—as well as individual wearers—should choose the correct garment based on certain criteria.

Electric Utility workers, including those working in the transmission, distribution, generation, and metering of power utilities, are exposed to hazards associated with electrical energy, primarily electrical arcs or arc flashes.

General Industry: Wherever workers may be exposed to hazards associated with electrical energy, employers must make sure they are protected. This includes electricians, maintenance workers, and operators.

NFPA 70E® requires AR (or arc-rated) clothing for any potential exposure above 1.2 cal/cm2, which equals the onset of a second-degree burn. The level of protection must be based on the task at hand, and most general industry tasks will require CAT2 or higher. It’s necessary to carefully consider the actual risk associated with a job and to match the protection category accordingly.
NOTE: NFPA 70E® applies only to general industry electrical safety. To address specific circumstances for utility, OSHA published 1910.269 & 1926.960, which state that power utilities are required to wear arc-rated clothing which matches the potential threat as determined by a proper hazard analysis.

Training
Employers implementing a PPE program are required by OSHA 1910.132(f)(1) and all industry consensus standards to provide training to each employee. According to OSHA, each employee who is required to wear PPE should at least know when it is necessary, what exactly is necessary, the do’s and don’ts of proper wear, what its limitations are, and how to properly care for it.

NFPA® 2112 A.5.1.1 offers specific requirements about the information employers must provide to their employees.

Maintenance
Proper care and maintenance of FR/AR clothing is essential to the effectiveness of your PPE program. While most industry standards recommend following the instructions provided by compliant garment manufacturers, some standards offer specific guidance, and there are a few basic rules that apply across all relevant standards.

1. Do not use any kind of bleach or peroxide

2. Do not use any additive that could build up and impede FR performance

3. Wash FR/AR garments separately

4. Turn FR/AR garments inside out to help color retention and preserve appearance

5. Use liquid detergent for best results

6. Avoid the hottest temperature to reduce the impact of shrinkage

7. For tough stains, apply liquid detergent or stain remover and soak garment

8. For even tougher stains, Bulwark® FR garments can be dry cleaned

9. Tumble dry on low setting and do not over dry

10. Rewash garments with lingering odor

11. Never use DEET or any other flammable substances on FR/AR clothing.

12. Any repairs must be made with fabric and findings that match the protection level of the original garment.

 

More specific regulations about PPE maintenance are defined in NFPA® 2113 and NFPA 70E®.

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Swatch Kit 101

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.

Washing Excel FR® and Comfortouch FR® Cotton and Cotton Blends at Home
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