Fire Resistant Disposable Protective Clothing Standards

Workers who face the risk of exposure to electric arc, spark and/or flash fire hazards need adequate flame retardant (FR) protective clothing, whether they work in oil and gas, electricity generation and distribution, hazmat remediation or a variety of other industries. Employers face a mind-boggling maze of standards and regulations related to Fire Reistant (FR) protective clothing in general, but it’s harder to figure out what applies to disposable protective clothing. The purpose of this article is to summarize the development and current state of FR disposable over-cover standards.

The Development of FR Disposable Protective Clothing

It wasn’t until the 1990s that disposable protective clothing started to see significant innovations that allowed their usage in a wider range of applications. The first FR disposable protective clothing came arrived in the marketplace in 1990’s and were mainly FR-treated wood pulp-based non-wovens. Meanwhile, polyester spun-laced throw-away garments were also developed that added a whole new level of protection against light weight incidental chemical exposure. Many of those garments were also labeled as “FR” because they could pass a simple small-scale NFPA 701 (which is no longer a recognized valid test) test, which led many to think they had greater protection than they really did. Many of these disposable garments would melt onto workers in any arc event or flash fire 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, and products are now available that meet more stringent FR standards.

Uses of FR Disposable Protective Clothing

Workers in petrochemical environments at risk of exposure to sparks and flames typically wear primary FR protective clothing that is both washable and reusable. But the potential for hydrocarbon loading (meaning their primary FR protective clothing could be splashed or “loaded” with various hydraulic oils and other fuels that make them less effective in flame and spark exposure situations) results in the need for an additional layer that provides both chemical and FR protection to keep the primary FR protective clothing effective. Disposable FR garments are one way to achieve the needed additional protection as long as they meet the right FR 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 over daily wear.

ANSI Standards tor 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 the workers of today are adequately covered. It also includes a series of test movement protocols that help people choose the right size of garment 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.

Just released this year, however, is the standard the industry has needed for years: 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 cannot diminish 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 as an ensemble and offers added protection to the wearer.

International Enviroguard FR Disposable Products

International Enviroguard has developed two important product lines. 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 also meet NFPA 2113 requirements for section 5.1.9. In addition, they also feature high MVTR (moisture vapor transmission rate) for increased worker comfort. Available with or without attached hood and/or attached boot. In addition, our PyoGuard CPFRTM garments combine chemical protection and FR protection to not only prevent hydrocarbon loading of primary FR garments, but also provide an additional layer of spark and flame protection. PyroGuard CPFR garments include an attached hood and the option of attached boots as well.

When companies want to provide superior protection to their workers while at the same time maintaining their comfort for maximum productivity, International Enviroguard offers a range of disposable protective clothing products for effective solutions that fit your operation, your budget and your needs. Our disposable protective clothing is used in many industries, including oil and gas, industrial/manufacturing, environmental remediation, nuclear energy, semiconductor facilities, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and food processing. All our products are manufactured to meet ANSI sizing standards 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!