As a safety manager, you’ve probably had to purchase FR clothing for your employees. Most industries these days have at least some employees that need to wear FR. This specialized type of PPE is especially common in the oil and gas industries. It’s likely that you’re familiar with FR shirts, jackets, pants, and coveralls. But, today’s discussion is going to focus on FR jeans.
Finding the right FR clothing can be difficult. There are so many options to choose from. Even when you’re just thinking about pants. Should you get coveralls or two-piece garments? Cotton pants or jeans?
When it comes to choosing any kind of FR clothing, there are a few things you must consider. Most importantly, you should consider the protection level, comfort, and durability.
FR jeans will typically provide you with high levels of protection. Most jeans these days are fairly comfortable. And, they tend to last longer than cotton pants.
It’s your job as the safety manager to provide employees with personal protective equipment. You need to find something that will keep them safe. But, you also need to make sure the clothing is comfortable for employees. Because if it isn’t, you’re going to have a hard time getting them to wear it. Learn more about FR Clothing Requirements for Oil and Gas with our recent blog here.
Why It Needs to Be Comfortable
When FR clothing first hit the market, options were limited. They didn’t come in many different brands and styles. Rarely were they considered “comfortable.” But now, FR clothing is made with high quality material. You can hardly tell the difference between FR and regular clothing.
Of course, it still depends on the brand, size, and material. That’s why it’s a good idea to reach out to your supplier and see if they can send you samples. Have your employees try them on. Compare brands and clothing options. Get them involved in your buying decision. They’ll appreciate you taking their opinions into consideration.
In addition to comfort, review the durability of your garment options. Do your employees wear their FR clothing every day? If so, be sure to find something that’s going to hold up to harsh, industrial working conditions. It might be worthwhile to spend a little extra upfront in order to save yourself money down the road. You’ll have to replace them eventually. But, you might as well get something that lasts.
Taking Care of FR Jeans
The best way to make sure you get your money’s worth is to take good care of the clothing.
Keep your FR jeans maintained and in good condition. Employees may be working in tough environments. A little “wear and tear” is to be expected. But, you don’t actually want them to get rips and holes in them. Replace jeans when they’ve become worn out.
Don’t forget about proper laundering. Wash them as often as necessary. Check the labels for specific washing instructions. The laundering requirements will vary. It depends on the garment and manufacturer.
Some FR jeans are treated with a flame-resistant chemical. That’s what gives them their FR properties. Usually treated fabrics will only last for a certain number of washes. That’s why it’s important to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how often to replace treated garments.
You could hire a cleaning service to wash and maintain employee clothing. Your other option is to have washing machines and cleaning supplies on-site. Try to avoid letting employees take their FR clothing home. You don’t want them using soap products that are incompatible with the treated chemicals.
Even when cared for properly, FR clothing will not last forever. Replace them immediately if you find holes, stretching, or other visible defects.
Clothing must be maintained so that it will adequately protect employees. Let’s review the hazards that FR clothing protects against.
The purpose of FR clothing is to protect workers from fire-related hazards. FR stands for flame-resistant. It’s designed to self-extinguish once ignited. FR clothing helps to minimize the extent of burn injuries. When worn properly, it also helps reduce the number of worker injuries that occur. Want to learn more about the fire related risks oil workers face everyday? Check out our blog, "Fire Prevention for the Oil and Gas Industry."
Many workers will wear FR clothing as part of their standard uniform. Some employees risk exposure to fire-related hazards on a daily basis. Examples include flash fires, welding operations, electrical work, and more.
So, you see why it’s important. If you work in an industry with high risk of fire, consider providing FR clothing to all of your workers. That way you can ensure that they’ll be safe from fire-related hazards.
FR Clothing: Pant Options
When it comes to FR pants, you’ve got plenty of options. Most employers end up narrowing it down to two choices: FR jeans, and FR cotton pants. Both have their benefits. You should always get employee input before buying new PPE. But, most employers end up purchasing FR jeans.
Jeans are typically a lot more durable. They’re made with fibers that are naturally stronger. They also tend to hold up better to harsh conditions. It’s easier to clean mud, grease, and dirt from them.
FR jeans can be made from true, fire-resistant materials. Or, they can be chemically treated. FR pants that are made from cotton-only come in a chemically treated option.
Both kinds are safe to use and will adequately protect employees. But, treated fabrics do have some limitations. They only last for a certain number of washes. Then, they need to be replaced.
The true fire-resistant fabrics are inherently constructed to self-extinguish. They will last much longer than treated fabrics do.
Below are some examples of popular FR jean garments.
These jeans are constructed of an FR denim blend. They feature a relaxed fit, so they can be comfortably worn all day. Leg openings are extra wide at the bottom—perfect for wearing over heavy work boots.
Made from FR denim, these pants are also arc-rated. They protect workers from fire-related hazards and electrical arc flash hazards.
More on FR Clothing
Making sure workers are equipped with the proper PPE is crucial—especially when it comes to FR clothing. FR jeans will provide you with the protection you’re looking for. They’re also comfortable and durable.
Jeans are common attire for most people. Your employees shouldn’t have any problem wearing them. And, the risks are too severe for an employee not to wear his personal protective equipment. So, get them in the right gear. And get them home safe!