Are you aware of Arc-rated, Hi-Vis and FR Clothing? Regarding worker's safety, it's important for them to choose the right type of clothing to protect against fire and arc flash hazards. AR (Arc-Rated), FR (Fire-Resistant), and Hi-Vis clothing are three types of protective clothing commonly used in various industries. Many workers working in hazardous environments like Oil and gas fields, the petrochemicals industry, and welding factories wear FR and Arc Rated clothing to protect from fire and electrical hazards. Similarly, workers in construction or roadwork may wear Hi-Vis clothing.
It's important for us to note that three are not the same. They each serve different purposes in a hazardous environment.
What is AR Clothing?
AR stands for Arc Rated, and AR clothing is designed to protect workers from electric arcs and flashes. AR clothing is made from materials that are non-conductive and won't melt, drip, or ignite when exposed to electrical arcs or flames. AR clothing is typically used by workers exposed to electrical hazards, such as electricians, engineers, and power utility workers.
When an arc flash occurs, it can release temperatures up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit. AR clothing works by limiting the amount of energy that passes through the AR clothes to the wearer's skin. The AR clothing is tested and given the arc rating representing the amount of energy the fabric can hold before it is likely to cause second-degree burns.
What is FR Clothing?
FR stands for Flame Resistant, and FR clothing is designed to protect workers from flames and thermal hazards. FR clothing is made from self-extinguishing materials and won't continue to burn once the ignition source is removed. FR clothing is typically used by workers exposed to flames and heat, such as welders, foundry workers, and firefighters.
FR clothing is rated based on its arc rating and the duration of the heat exposure. The National Fire Protection Association sets standards for FR clothing, which include NFPA 2112 for flash fire protection and NFPA 70E for electrical arc protection.
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What is Hi-Vis Clothing?
Hi-Vis stands for High Visibility, and Hi-Vis clothing is designed to make workers more visible in low light conditions. Hi-Vis clothing is typically made from brightly colored fabrics with reflective tape or stripes. Hi-Vis clothing is used by workers who work in areas where Visibility is poor, such as construction sites, roadwork, and mining.
Hi-Vis clothing is rated based on the amount of visible light it reflects, measured in units of retro-reflective material. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sets standards for Hi-Vis clothing, which include ANSI/ISEA 107 for high-visibility safety apparel and headwear and ANSI/ISEA 207 for public safety vests. Hi-Vis clothing comes in many types such as, Hi-Vis T-shirt, Hi-Vis Long Sleeve T-shirt, Hi-Vis Vest, and Hi-Vis Jackets.
When to Use AR, FR, and Hi-Vis Clothing
The workers need to choose the right type of protective clothing based on the hazards or industries they are working in. Here are some guidelines for when to use AR, FR, and Hi-Vis clothing:
- Use AR clothing when working with electrical equipment and hazards.
- Use FR clothing when working with flames and thermal hazards.
- Use Hi-Vis clothing when working in low-light conditions or areas where Visibility is poor.
In industries where employees are exposed to potential thermal hazards, protective clothing is vital to safety. Understanding the difference between these three clothing types can help workers protect themselves in hazardous work environments.