DON'T COMPROMISE ON PPE WEAR AND CARE
You’ve hired the right candidates for the job and invested in the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) garments. The last thing you want to do is damage or minimize the protective properties of your team’s uniforms by not following the correct maintenance. Proper upkeep of flame resistant (FR) and ARC-rated garments is essential to their effectiveness. Keep your employees protected and productive with these wear and care guidelines.
The key to wearer protection starts with proper use of PPE garments. Even the best PPE clothing doesn’t do its job if it’s worn incorrectly. Workers must wear FR and ARC-rated clothing according to regulations, otherwise they are still exposed to possible hazards. While on the job, follow these requirements:
- Coveralls must be completely buttoned or zipped.
- Shirts must be fully buttoned and tucked in and have sleeves rolled down.
- Pants must stay rolled all the way down.
- Current OSHA language states that workers who face potential arc hazards may not wear flammable clothing as an outermost layer.
- According to NFPA 70E, for general industry Arc flash protection sleeves must be fastened at the wrists, shirts must be tucked in and shirts, jackets, and coveralls must be closed up to the neck.
And did you know that you should beware of bug sprays while wearing FR clothing? Avoid using insect repellents with DEET since it is highly flammable.
Failing to keep PPE garments clean can also lessen their FR properties, leaving wearers under protected. Since these garments typically come into contact with oil and chemicals, you must clean them frequently to prevent buildup of contaminants that can reduce their flame resistance.
When washing FR garments, keep in mind what type of water is used. OSHA has said that the mineral salts in hard water can accumulate on fabrics, making the clothes less flame resistant.
To maximize the protective capabilities of FR and ARC-rated clothing, Bulwark®, a trusted brand in FR garments, suggests these laundry tips:
- Do not use any kind of bleach or peroxide.
- Do not use any additive that could build up and impede FR performance such as fabric softeners or starch.
- Wash garments separately.
- Turn garments inside out to help color retention and preserve appearance.
- Use liquid detergent for best results.
- Avoid the hottest washing and drying temperatures to reduce the impact of shrinkage.
- For tough stains, soak garments in liquid detergent or non-bleach, non-peroxide pre-wash stain removers before laundering.
- For even tougher stains, garments may be dry cleaned.
- Tumble dry on low setting and do not over dry.
- Rewash garments with lingering odor.
To take the burden off employees to follow these rigorous care guidelines, partner with an industrial launderer. Your team won’t be responsible for finding the proper water temperature, detergent mix and wash formula – leave that to the experts. If you choose to have employees launder their own garments, you’re relying on them to remember how frequently to wash them, which may or may not happen. Plus, employees risk getting their home washing machine full of contaminants such as hydraulic fluid.
An industrial launderer also performs frequent garment inspections to make sure workwear isn’t compromised by excessive wear such as holes or broken buttons. They can determine when clothing should be repaired, replaced and retired – one less thing you need to worry about.
Maximize Your Investment
A safety program is more than simply choosing the right PPE apparel for your team. Be sure to prioritize proper wear and care to extend the life of your investment and the protection of your employees. The success of your safety program depends on it.
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