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)
220.127.116.11 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.
Whenever a new edition of a standard is released, all manufacturers of flame-resistant (FR) garments, fabrics and findings are required to retest and recertify their products to demonstrate continued compliance with the standard. With the updates to NFPA 2112 that came last year, we at Bulwark have been busy with an extensive, and extremely complex review process in collaboration with UL, our third-party certifier. One involving all segments of the supply chain.
This is to let you know that Bulwark has successfully completed our recertification and is now labelling all NFPA 2112-compliant garments to the new 2018 edition of NFPA 2112.
It’s important to know that no performance requirements for garments were added or changed in the 2018 edition of the standard, therefore Bulwark garments did not need to undergo any design changes to maintain compliance. Garments labeled to either the 2012 or the 2018 edition offer equivalent protection against exposure to flash fire. However, for a time, our finished goods inventory will carry a mix of garments labeled to the new (2018) and the previous (2012) edition of the standard – given the standard doesn’t require inventory of garments certified to the previous edition to be relabeled. Rather, labels must reference the 2018 edition of the standard on new production only.
As always, should you need further clarification, Bulwark is always here with any questions you may have. For now, stand reassured. Because from full compliance, comes total confidence.
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 AR and FR? According to Bulwark’s Technical Training Manager, Derek Sang, the most basic and important thing to know when it comes to AR and FR 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.
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to the terms “treated” and “inherent” FR. What’s the difference? And, more importantly, does one offer better protection than the other? In short, the answer is no. But in order to understand why, we must start by understanding what these terms mean and why they were applied to FR fabric in the first place.
Definition & Engineering
“Inherent” FR refers to a fabric that has FR properties—defined by the fabric’s ability to self-extinguish when the ignition source is removed—by its very nature, as a core property. In other words, a fabric is FR without any additional finishing. “Treated” FR on the other hand, refers to a fabric that has been engineered with flame-retardant chemistry to have FR properties that were not present prior to the treatment.
There are 3 levels at which FR properties can be achieved:
• The Molecular Level – Synthetic derivatives are engineered at the molecular level to be FR (e.g., Nomex, Kermel, Twaron, Kevlar, etc.)
• The Fiber Level – At this level, flame-retardant chemicals are added to the process prior to the fiber being extruded (e.g., FR Modacrylics, FR Rayons)
• The Fabric Level – FR properties are permanently imparted into flammable fabrics through a combination of chemical and mechanical processes (e.g., FR Cotton, 88/12)
When these terms were adopted by the FR world over 30 years ago, they reflected the durability of flame resistant technology at that time. Back then, the intent was to imply that “Inherent” was superior to “treated.” Why? Because at one time, it was true. Cotton and other cellulosic materials are naturally flammable, so they do have to undergo a chemical process, or “treatment,” to impart FR properties. And these early “treated” garments did lose their FR properties over time and after repeated washings. Treated fabrics, prior to 1987, could not compete with aramids as a durable FR alternative.
Over the past 30 years, however, we’ve made dramatic advancements in FR technology that have blurred the lines between these two terms. “Inherent” and “treated” have become so common and so misused that the terms now create more confusion than clarity. Most popular FR fabrics today are blends of several different fibers, and this has created confusion on where and when to apply the current labels. Because “inherent” and “treated” refer to single fiber types, they fail to accurately represent today’s complex blends—which sometimes combine all 3 engineering levels. For example, what should we call a fabric that is 35% Aramid (engineered at the molecular level) and 65% FR cotton (engineered at the fiber level)? When a fabric is a combination of both inherent and treated FR fabrics, and with no rules in place about how to apply the terms, they become more confusing than helpful.
FR technology has come a long way. The fabrics in use today are far superior to those of just a generation previous, and the terms we use to discuss them must make the same evolution. The bottom line is, when it comes to selecting FR fabrics, the most important considerations should always be protection, comfort and durability. No matter which fabric you select, be sure that you can count on the FR properties to last, wash after wash. Bulwark offers an FR guarantee for the lifetime of the garment, on all of our products. To ensure your safety program does what it’s supposed to do: keep you and your guys safe.
In 2015, ANSI/ISEA 107 underwent an extensive overhaul. The new version merges ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 and ANSI/ISEA 207-2011 into a single document that considers all occupations faced with low-visibility hazards, including public safety workers. The changes outlined in the 2015 revision will impact wearers of high-visibility safety apparel (HSVA) across a wide range of industries including construction, oil and gas, and law enforcement, among others. Download the whitepaper to learn how the changes to ANSI/ISEA 107 affect your safety program.
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Unique Design by Bulwark® Protection and Innovative Fabric by DuPont Are Winning Combination
WILMINGTON, Del, June 22, 2020 – Bulwark® Protection and DuPont Safety & Construction are pleased to announce that the iQ Series® garment collection made exclusively with DuPont™ Nomex® Comfort fabric has received a 2020 Innovation Award from the North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers & Distributors (NAUMD).
Bulwark® Protection and its parent company, VF Workwear, earned the NAUMD Best Garment Innovation—Comfort Award in recognition of going above and beyond to transform the comfort and function of a uniform.
Complaints from customers who wear flame-resistant (FR) garments revealed that they found the fabric to be hot, heavy and not breathable, problems that could be solved by using Nomex® Comfort.
“At Bulwark, we are relentless in our pursuit of bringing game-changing FR innovations to the market that solve real-world FR problems,” said Robert Grimes, VP/GM—Bulwark® Protection.
The iQ Series® garments are made with Nomex® Comfort, an innovative fabric that is inherently flame resistant and delivers both extreme protection and maximum comfort. Nomex® Comfort is lightweight, highly breathable and quick drying. It is also the lightest weight fabric on the market that meets international standards for heat and flame protection (NFPA 2112) and predicted body burn protection (ASTM F1930).
The award-winning garment collection includes multiple styles of shirts, pants and coveralls for men and women. Unique design features include patent-pending mobility pleats, larger pockets, mobility gussets and double knee patches.
“The iQ Series® garment collection is a perfect example of how Bulwark® listens to its customers and works to deliver innovative solutions that help keep workers safe and more comfortable,” said David Domnisch, Global Business Leader, DuPont Personal Protection. “We want to congratulate Bulwark® for receiving this prestigious award and are pleased that they chose Nomex® Comfort fabric to help them deliver unparalleled protection and maximum comfort.”
To learn more about the award-winning iQ Series® garment collection, visit (https://www.bulwark.com/iq-series-mens-midweight-mobility-coverall/QC22.html). To learn more about Nomex® Comfort, visit https://www.dupont.com/knowledge/introducing-nomex- comfort.html.
About Bulwark® Protection
When real lives are on the line and corporate reputations are at stake you can turn to Bulwark® Protection. We’re the PPE powerhouse that surrounds you completely. We balance the demand for FR and PPE that looks as good as it protects. Every look, line, label, fit, feature and functionality we create is purposefully designed based on firsthand insights. We make have-to-wears, want-to- wears. We expand your knowledge in all directions with the latest information, advice and guidance. Bulwark® Protection - Protection built around you. For more information, visit www.bulwark.com.
About VF Workwear
VF Workwear is a leading supplier of workwear apparel that enhances worker productivity and comfort, and delivers industry, leading innovation. Our Nashville workwear business is a prominent manufacturer and marketer of apparel for the workplace with over $800 million in sales. Our brands (Bulwark, Red Kap, Horace Small, Timberland Pro, VF Solutions, Dickies, Terra, and Kodiak) consists of apparel that is primarily work shirts, workpants, coverings and footwear worn by millions of workers across a wide range of industries and government organizations around the world.
VF Workwear Purpose: We Champion and Empower Workers who Make Our World Work Better.
About DuPont Safety & Construction
DuPont Safety & Construction is a global leader in delivering innovation for life’s essential needs in water, shelter and safety; enabling its customers to win through unique capabilities, global scale and iconic brands including Corian®, Kevlar®, Nomex®, Tyvek®, GreatStuff™, Styrofoam ™ and Filmtec®.
DuPont (NYSE: DD) is a global innovation leader with technology-based materials, ingredients and solutions that help transform industries and everyday life. Our employees apply diverse science and expertise to help customers advance their best ideas and deliver essential innovations in key markets including electronics, transportation, construction, water, health and wellness, food, and worker safety. More information can be found at www.dupont.com/.
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DuPont™, the DuPont Oval Logo, and all trademarks and service marks denoted with ™, ℠ or ® are owned by affiliates of DuPont de Nemours, Inc. unless otherwise noted. iQ Series® is a registered trademark of Bulwark® Protection, a brand of VF Workwear.
The use of illustrations (photos, slides, transparencies, etc.) supplied by DuPont is only authorized in conjunction with the texts supplied by DuPont itself. This material can in no case be used to illustrate texts concerning the products and/or services of any companies other than DuPont.
For further information contact:
Name: Lori Gettelfinger, Global Communication Leader, DuPont Personal Protection
Name: Angie Wilson – Marketing Manager