Certain activities are carried out under conditions of high risk to people’s health. This is the case of firefighters, foundry workers, handling of explosives, welders, industry personnel
All of them must wear special PPE to protect them from possible accidents that may occur while carrying out their work activity. The regulations on fire retardant clothing are what establishes the requirements that these garments must have. Let’s see what they consist of and what characteristics this protective equipment should have.
What is fire retardant clothing
Fire- retardant clothing is the set of garments used to protect people against brief exposure to flames or to some of the different types of heat that exist. They must be worn in all types of jobs where these risks exist and must be manufactured in accordance with existing regulations.
It is important to emphasize that protective clothing against heat and fire is not designed to protect against prolonged exposure to flames, but must be manufactured to avoid possible occasional burns that workers may suffer while carrying out their work activity. In other words, it can be said that it is fire retardant clothing.
Within protective garments against heat and fire, the regulations establish different distinctions depending on the type of activity. Thus, there is specific legislation for fire retardant clothing, antistatic work clothing and for welders. All of them protect against the three existing types of heat (radiant, conductive and convective), as well as the splashes that may occur.
Characteristics of fire-retardant work clothes
The regulations on fire-retardant clothing emphasize that this type of clothing must be made from flexible materials and must cover certain parts of the body such as the neck, legs, arms, torso, etc., except for the hands, the head and feet.
Now that we know what fire-retardant clothing is, it is important to know that it must have the following characteristics:
These special suits must be non-combustible and must resist heat from radiant and convective sources, toxicity, smoke transparency, maintain integrity and strength, and must also be comfortable to allow freedom of movement in the people.
Protective clothing against heat and fire will have to be designed to allow an overlap between the trousers and the jacket, regardless of the position and the different movements that the worker can make.
Regulations on fire-retardant clothing at work
The regulation on flame retardant clothing is EN ISO 11612:2010, which specifies all the characteristics mentioned above. In addition, it establishes the protective properties that garments must have, as well as those of fabrics and accessories against heat and flame.
Fire -retardant protective equipment must be worn by all those who work in activities exposed to contact with heat, flames, splashes of electricity or molten material.
On the other hand, antistatic work clothing is regulated by EN 1149-5 and establishes that its main function must be the dissipation of electrostatic charges that may originate in certain working conditions. These garments will be mandatory in activities like construction workwear where explosive substances are handled, or where there is formation of fine dust or gases that may be combustible.
Finally, there is a specific regulation for work clothes for welders, EN ISO 11611. This certifies the protection of workers against brief contact with fire, the formation of sparks and the reduction of possible risks derived from a discharge in cases of accidental contact with electrical sources.
Types of fire-retardant clothing
The regulation on flame retardant clothing EN ISO 11612:2010 establishes two types for this type of PPE:
Category II: These types should be used in hot environments where ambient temperatures below 100º are anticipated.
Category III: Designed for ambient temperatures exceeding 100º, with or without flames, infrared radiation or extensive projections of molten material.
For its part, work clothing for welders, regulated by EN ISO 11611, is classified into the following types:
Class 1: Intended for protection in jobs where less dangerous welding techniques are used.
Class 2: They protect the person in welding classified as dangerous as they have a higher risk of exposure to sparks and heat.
Also noteworthy are the existing flame-retardant accessories, such as underwear. These must meet the requirements of the regulations. Ordinary garments contain elements or materials that can be flammable or generate electrostatic accumulation.
All these types of garments must comply with the regulations on fire retardant clothing so that the protection of workers is adequate and they can carry out their work activity comfortably and efficiently at the same time.