DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT FR PROGRAM?
Think about all the jobs performed throughout your business. Now take a look at who performs them. If you have a mix of tasks with only some requiring flame resistant (FR) and Arc-rated garments, or if you have employees who go back and forth between FR and non-FR tasks, are you set up with the proper safety program and uniforms? Let’s break down the program options and walk through some practical considerations.
When it comes to FR clothing programs, there are two types: task-based and daily wear. A task-based program means employees wear FR and Arc-rated uniforms only when they need to perform a certain task that requires protective garments. Businesses that adopt a daily wear program have employees who are in FR and Arc-rated uniforms at all times regardless of their on-the-job responsibilities.
There are possible risks to not implementing a daily wear program. Here are some areas of concern and questions to ask when evaluating your safety program.
- Improper wear – If these garments aren’t something an employee uses on a regular basis, they may not be educated on the proper way to wear FR coveralls or shirts. Do they know shirt sleeves can’t be rolled up and that buttons and zippers must be fully closed? Will they be tempted to put an FR garment on top of what they are already wearing (even though that means the layer directly next to their skin isn’t flame resistant)?
- Incorrect protection level – Again, if a particular task isn’t something they perform every day, they may think they can just grab any type of FR garment. If the task includes possible exposure to an electric arc, does that employee know that they need an FR garment that has an Arc rating?
- Forgetting to wear – Workers may get into a routine and overlook the need to put on an FR safety garment for specific tasks. It simply isn’t top of mind.
- Accessibility – Can these garments be easily accessed? If they are in a locker on the other end of the warehouse or in someone’s work truck, employees may not take the time to retrieve the garments.
- Proximity of danger – Maybe you have employees who aren’t required to wear FR uniforms, but they work close to possible hazards. Even if workers aren’t directly in contact with the items that pose a risk, they may work near them and still be exposed (e.g., combustible dust).
What Does This Mean?
Each of these scenarios can potentially result in a safety risk. If your employees aren’t in the correct FR or Arc-rated garments or are wearing them incorrectly, it could become a compliance issue. It could also turn into a liability concern because there is a greater chance of exposure to significant burns or even death. Productivity may suffer if your team isn’t able to do their job as efficiently because they are in the wrong uniforms.
Task-based programs may have less upfront costs because garments are less expensive, but the long-term costs could be higher. Regardless of your FR program type, if you aren’t wearing FR garments properly, you aren’t properly protected from injuries.
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