In the US alone, an estimated 450,000 burn injuries require medical treatment each year. 40,000 of these cases are severe enough that the patients end up hospitalized. Another 30,000 need to receive treatment from specialized burn centers.
According to some studies, between 10% and 45% of these burn injuries occur in US workplaces. That’s about 45,000 to 202,500 work injuries!
So, it’s no wonder that flame resistant work shirts are now a must for many workers. This is especially true for those whose jobs expose them to electrical and fire hazards. The NFPA 70E Standard, for instance, cites the use of FR clothing for electrical safety.
The big question is, how exactly do these FR shirts benefit its wearers?
We’ll tell you everything you need to know about flame resistant shirts for work, so be sure to keep reading!
You may have heard of a flame resistant shirt referred to as “FR shirt” or “FR clothing.” Either way, it’s a type of apparel that resists flames. It makes use of fabrics, fibers, and threads that have an inherent resistance to embers and fire.
When exposed to live embers or flames, the fabric itself will catch fire. However, since it’s very resistant to fire, it will self-extinguish right away. It’s not like other clothing items, such as linen or silk, that are quick and easy to burn.
The very nature of flame resistant shirts gives them their burn protective feature. Since they self-extinguish, they reduce the wearer’s risks of fire-induced injuries.
Aside from flame-caused burns, thermal burns can also happen through heat transfer. For instance, you can get burned when you touch a piece of smoldering fabric.
Since FR fabrics self-extinguish, then they also mitigate heat build-up in the fabric. This, in turn, protects the wearer from thermal burns.
Some types of fabric, like rayon and the cellulose-based lyocell, burn like linen. However, they also tend to shrink when exposed to heat.
As a result, these shrinking fabrics may hug the body of the wearer more tightly. The tighter the clothing gets, the higher the risks for reduced blood flow. On their own, tight clothes can already cause skin irritation, chafing, and redness.
Things can get even more dangerous if you add a burning environment to the equation. Tight clothes can inhibit movement, which is the last thing you want if you’re in a blazing building.
The good news is, flame resistant work shirts don’t have the same shrinking reaction to heat or flame. They won’t cling to your body as rayon or lyocell will.
Fabrics like acetate, acrylic, nylon, and spandex melt as they burn. As they liquify, they can either drip or stick to the skin. This is double trouble, as both can cause even more significant burns.
For example, an extremely hot section of the melting fabric can drip down to the foot. If this happens, the foot can sustain a burn wound, which is bad enough as it is. It can also be life-threatening, though, as it may affect your ability to run to safety in case of a building fire.
Melting fabric can also stick to the skin as it liquifies, and its heat can be enough to break the skin. Worse, the melted cloth can be difficult to remove from the skin itself.
FR shirts, with their ability to resist flames and heat, take much longer to break open. Their specialized construction also makes them non-melting and non-dripping.
Thermal insulation allows for heat transfer reduction. In flame resistant clothes, this pertains to how their fabric can resist heat from say, flames. You can think of this attribute as an additional layer of protection from burns and fires.
This is why you’ll also find flame resistant work gloves, such as those that welders and arc workers use. They safeguard the skin from those flying “sparks,” which can cause burn wounds. They also protect the hands from burns that accidental contact with hot metal can cause.
A fire in a building can make the temperature skyrocket to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The flames will also engulf anything combustible. As it burns through materials, the fire will generate toxic gases, fumes, and smoke.
This is why fire experts say that people inside burning buildings only have two minutes to get to safety. However, this can be much shorter if their clothes catch fire too. Burn injuries can have a considerable reduction in their survival rate.
That’s why FR clothing can be your saving grace if you do find yourself inside a burning building. Their ability to resist heat and flames can help you make the most use out of the time you have to escape.
Does your work environment expose you to electrical arcs or extreme heat energy? If so, then you likely must abide by OSHA Standards for flame resistant clothing. Non-compliance or violations can result in severe citations.
High-quality flame resistant work shirts will help you meet these stringent OSHA regulations. More than that, they can help save your life in case of fire or burn accidents.
As you can see, flame resistant work shirts can make a vast difference between a life and death situation. At the very least, they can help protect you from preventable yet painful burn wounds. This, in turn, allows you to carry out your duties in a safe manner.
Plus, FR work shirts are super comfortable. As such, they can also help boost your productivity levels.
Ready to make every workday safer and more comfortable? Then be sure to check out UrShield’s flame resistant clothing and accessories!