There were over 2.5 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the US private sector in 2017.

The construction industry accounts for 20% of all workplace injuries. For some construction workers, flame resistant clothing is the key to avoiding injuries.

In industries where employees work with fire hazards, employers must follow OSHA standards for flame resistant clothes. If your employees get injured as a result of your negligence, you face legal and financial consequences.

Keep reading to find out about your responsibilities in this Guide to OSHA’s standards for fireproof clothing.

The 269 Standard

The 269 Standard refers to OHSA regulation 1910.269. It’s related to workers that operate and maintain electric power generation, transformation, control, and transmission. These workers are regularly exposed to electrical arcs.

The 269 Standard says that employers must train workers in potential hazards. They should train on electrical arcs and how they can produce flames.

The 269 Standard also prohibits these workers from wearing clothing that has the potential to ignite and cause injury. Prohibited clothing includes clothes that ignite and continue to burn. It also includes clothing that melts on the skin in the presence of a flame.

What is Flame Resistant Clothing?

OSHA sets the requirements for the design, construction, and certification of fire-resistant clothing. Fireproof clothing includes:

These garments reduce the potential for and severity of burns when working close to fire hazards.

Prohibited Clothing

Polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and acetate are melting materials. Clothing made of these materials is strictly prohibited by OSHA regulations. That includes clothing made of these materials alone or in blends.

These melting materials are excepted from the rule if they meet specifications ASTM F1506, NFPA 2112 or ASTM F1891. Rayon may also be excepted if an employer can show compliance.

An employer can choose not to use FR clothing. In that case, they are responsible for providing a material that’s equally as safe.

To prove the safety of the garment, an employer must provide test results. The results must show the material has been treated with flame resistance.

The degree of fire resistance required is related to the particular conditions that a worker is exposed to. For example, 100% cotton and wool are acceptable clothing choices when their weight is relative to the arc conditions they’re exposed to. But if the specific flame and arc conditions can cause those materials to ignite and burn, they’re not considered compliant.

Who Has to Wear Flame Resistant Clothing?

With the exception of some head, hands, and feet items, employees that are exposed to the following conditions require a flame resistant outer layer of clothing:

  • Employees exposed to energized circuit parts operating at 600+ volts
  • Employees working near molten metal or electric arcs from faulted conductors
  • Employees working near an electric arc that could ignite flammable substances and could easily spread to the employee’s clothing
  • Where the incident heat energy estimate is more than 2.0 cal/cm2 (p. 390)

These employees must wear flame-resistant clothing while performing their duties. The responsibility for ensuring their safety and adherence to guidelines falls on the employer, which we’ll talk more about next.

Employer Responsibilities

In regards to compliance, OSHA places the burden of safety on the employer. The General Duty Clause states that employers are required to furnish employees and the place of employment in a way that protects them from death or serious physical harm. And when it comes to employees exposed to flames or electric arcs, there are even more specific rules.

As mentioned, OSHA’s 269 Standard requires employers to ensure that employees exposed to flames or electrical arcs are outfitted with the FR clothing. OSHA’s 1910.132 ruling further states that the cost of FR clothing and PPE must be assumed by the employer and not the employee.

To ensure compliance, Compliance Safety and Health Officers can request employers to provide proof of their adherence to the OSHA guidelines. They can do so during an inspection of electric power generation sites and transmission sites as well as arid distribution work sites.

What to Look For in Fireproof Clothing

When looking for FR clothing for employees, be sure to follow the right standards. Standards depend on the hazards that workers are exposed to.

For example, ASTM F1506 is the rating for arc flash. Whereas ASTM F1891 relates to arc flash rainwear and ASTM F2733 is the required flash fire standard for rainwear.

In order to determine whether workwear is fire rated, you can ask your distributor for third-party test data or full lab reports. A trustworthy company will be able to provide these in a timely and orderly fashion.

Third-party certification bodies include Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) and Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL). Ask for the test reports and, if a manufacturer is able to give you an ISO 17025 accredited report, it’s a good sign that the reports are accurate.

Are Your Workers Protected from Fire Hazards?

The number of work-related injuries in the US is staggering. That’s especially true considering that many of these injuries are preventable with the right training and safety equipment. As an employer, you’re responsible for preventing those injuries and complying with OSHA standards and regulations.

Workers who are exposed to fire hazards such as flames or electrical arcs are particularly at risk for burns. But fireproof clothing and adequate training can reduce their risk of injury.

That’s why OSHA requires that employers provide these workers with garments, PPE, and outerwear that’s rated for fire resistance. They also prohibit the use of melting materials. However, you can choose what type of fr clothing you provide as long as you can demonstrate that it’s compliant with OSHA guidelines.

If your employees aren’t already protected, it’s time to get compliant. Find out more about us and the flame resistant clothing we offer.