Fire Resistant Disposable Protective Clothing Standards

Workers who face the risk of burn injuries, exposure to electric arcs, sparks, and/or flash fire hazards need adequate flame retardant (FR) protective clothing. Flame-resistant garments and regulations set forth by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are designed to protect industrial personnel, and workers in oil and gas, electricity generation and distribution, hazmat remediation, and more.

Employers face a mind-boggling number of standards and regulations related to Flame Resistant (FR) protective clothing in general, but it’s harder to figure out what applies to disposable protective clothing. This article summarizes the development and current state of disposable FR clothing that is worn over top of primary FR garments.

The Development of FR Disposable Protective Clothing

It wasn’t until the 1990s that disposable protective clothing started to see significant innovations that allowed for usage in a wider range of applications. The first FR disposable protective clothing arrived in the marketplace in the 1990s and was mainly FR-treated wood pulp-based non-wovens. Meanwhile, polyester spun-laced single-use garments were also developed and added a whole new level of protection against light-duty chemical exposure.

Many of those garments were also labeled as “FR” because they could pass a simple small-scale NFPA 701 test, which is no longer recognized as a valid test. This led many to think they had higher protection than they really did. Many of these disposable garments would melt onto workers in an arc flash or flash fire event that lasted more than a few seconds.

The good news is that disposable FR protective clothing has come a long way in the past two decades thanks to new test methods and materials. These products now meet more stringent FR standards.

Uses of FR Disposable Protective Clothing

Workers in petrochemical environments typically wear primary FR protective clothing that is both washable and reusable. But this means these workers have the potential for hydrocarbon loading.

Hydrocarbon loading occurs when their primary FR protective clothing is splashed or “loaded” with various hydraulic oils and other fuels that make them less effective in flame and spark exposure situations. This results in the need for an additional layer that provides both chemical and FR protection to maintain the effectiveness or protection level of the primary FR protective clothing.

Disposable FR garments, such as FR coveralls, are one way to achieve the needed additional protection as long as they meet the right FR clothing standards. It’s no longer an either/or choice between chemical protection and flame protection; there are solutions available to achieve both types of protection with the right combination of products, such as disposable daily wear worn over top.

ANSI Standards for FR Disposable Protective Clothing

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) are two organizations that work together to publish standards related to disposable protective clothing. One general development relevant to disposable protective clothing came many years ago with ANSI/ISEA 101-2014: American National Standard for Limited Use and Disposable Coveralls - Size and Labeling Requirements.

The ANSI Standards process requires review and any updates every 5 years. The 2014 update was developed by the ISEA Protective Apparel Group and reviewed by a group of wide-ranging stakeholders that included end-users, product suppliers, and testing/certification organizations.

The changes relate primarily to updating the sizing charts to make sure workers are wearing clothing that provides adequate body coverage. It also includes a series of test movement protocols that help people choose the right size for effective protection. This standard is scheduled for review in 2019. While these standards are useful in a general way, they do not cover the performance of FR disposable protective clothing.

Newer Flame Retardant Clothing Regulations

In 2018 a standard the industry has needed for years was released: ANSI/ISEA 203-2018: American National Standard for Secondary Single-Use Flame Resistant Protective Clothing for Use Over Primary Flame-Resistant Protective Clothing. The standard establishes minimum performance and labeling requirements for the exact situation described earlier, which is the use of a disposable FR garment over primary FR garments. You can learn more about this standard as well as purchase it on the ISEA website.

It is critical to note that FR disposable coveralls are not meant to be worn as a single layer of protection. They are inadequate as a primary FR garment – they are intended to protect and preserve the underlying primary FR garments workers wear on a daily basis. They do not lessen the FR properties of the primary garment. In fact, testing has shown that the use of FR over garments decreases the percentage of body burn and offers added protection to the wearer.

International Enviroguard FR Disposable Products

International Enviroguard has developed two important product lines that meet the critical FR clothing regulations. Our PyroGuard FR® garments provide lightweight, breathable, comfortable protection of primary FR garments from dirt, grease, and grime. They pass ASTM D6413 vertical flame testing and feature a high MVTR (moisture vapor transmission rate) for increased worker comfort. Styles include suits with or without an attached hood and/or attached boots.

In addition, they also feature high MVTR (moisture vapor transmission rate) for increased worker comfort. Available with or without attached hood and/or attached boots.

Our PyroGuard CPFRTM garments combine chemical protection and FR protection to prevent hydrocarbon loading of primary FR garments and provide an additional layer of spark and flame protection. PyroGuard CRFRTM garments include an attached hood and the option of attached boots.

All our protective clothing is manufactured to meet the ANSI/ISEA 101-2016 standard for a better fit, greater mobility, and fewer rip-outs. To find out more about how International Enviroguard products can protect your people, productivity, and operations with disposable protective clothing, contact us today!