Working in dangerous conditions requires specialized clothing and accessories designed to protect workers from occupational hazards. In cases where the risk of explosions or fire are heightened, especially in the oil and gas industry, what you put on your body matters.
Work in the oilfields is so dangerous that between 2006 and 2010, the number of injuries and deaths skyrocketed to 80 (BLS). To combat this, OSHA made some drastic changes regarding PPE requirements for oil and gas workers.
Now employers must provide oilfield workers with proper protective clothing and equipment. With the new changes in flame-resistant (FR) clothing, the reported fire and explosion fatalities plummeted to nine deaths between 2010 and 2015.
To us, that’s nine fatalities too many.
Rocky Mountain Industrial Supply wants to take safety a step further. We think there are still improvements that need to be made with oil worker safety and it starts with communication. There are far too many misconceptions about FR clothing and accessories that it’s time to shed some light on the subject.
It’s not only the risk of flames, fire, explosions and arc flash that oil workers need to watch out for. During the cold winter months workers face blistering temperatures and harsh winds, making comfort and safety a tough combination.
To battle the cold, you need to stay warm. But how can you stay warm and safe this winter? Layering non-protective jackets, hats, hoodies or helmet liners can be deadly. So before you bundle up with any old thing, let’s take a look at the special fabrics you need to wear to protect yourself from the dangers of fire, flame or explosions.
What’s the difference between True and Treated FR Winter Liners?
FR clothing is meant to protect workers from varying degrees of exposure to fire-related hazards. The problem is that many people confuse flame retardant with flame resistant. First, let’s begin by explaining what true and treated actually means.
In the world of protective apparel, there are two common types of FR gear. True or treated.
True FR clothing is also known as flame-resistant clothing because it is inherently resistant to flames and embers. It will self-extinguish and not continue to burn once ignited by flame or fire. Flame-resistant clothing is effective at minimizing the extent of burn injuries and preventing fire from spreading. True FR clothing can be made from various materials including modacrylic, Nomex and Kevlar to name a few.
Treated FR clothing, or flame-retardant clothing, is often made from cotton or cotton-blend materials and treated with a chemical to make it flame resistant. It’s slow burning and self-extinguishing but that protection lasts only as long as the chemical treatment is intact. Laundering and normal wear does shorten the life of a chemically treated garment.
Neither type of FR clothing should ever be considered fireproof or arc-rated. Both types of protection have a wear life and require specialized laundering, care and maintenance. Read FR Clothing Requirements for Oil and Gas for more info.
When should true and treated FR winter liners be used?
Now that we got the science out of the way, let’s talk about how you can use FR materials to stay warm this winter.
One way is to conserve body heat. Winter hard hat liners are an effective way to minimize heat loss and keep your head, neck and ears toasty warm all season long without compromising safety.
➤ The N-Ferno® 6885 FR Winter Hard Hat Liner from Ergodyne is one option that fits the bilI.
Hard hat winter liners offer cold weather protection for people who spend long periods of time working outdoors or in cold environments. Look for winter liners constructed with FR technology that meets or exceeds approved performance specifications of ASTM F1506 and NFPA 70E or NFPA 2112.
➤The N-Ferno® 6828 FR Balaclava Face Mask from Ergodyne offers anti-static protection as well as flame-resistance and arc flash protection.
Balaclavas are another option for cold weather protection. Designed to cover the head, face, ears and neck, some balaclavas can be used under hard hats or other head protection to help you stay warm and safe all day.
➤ The Flame-Resistant Carhartt Force Balaclava offers FR protection while wicking away sweat.
Need cold weather protection that helps keep you dry? Despite the cold temperatures, chances are you work up a sweat. Not only can that be uncomfortable to feel cold and damp all day, it can be dangerous as well. Wet or damp skin can increase your chances of hypothermia or other cold-related illnesses.
What does OSHA say about the use of FR winter liners with hard hats?
Under OSHA’s Head Protection standard titled Part 29 CFR 1926.100 when it comes to head protection, employees working in areas that there is possible danger of head injury from impact, electrical shock or burns from fire should be protected by protective helmets. Hard hats must meet ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014 for electrical insulation rating, impact protection and penetration.
When it comes to the use of winter liners, there’s no regulation that says you can’t wear cold weather gear under helmets. But winter liners must be designed to be compatible with the protective properties of the helmets; they must be worn properly and fitted smoothly to the head. If a cold weather garment detracts from the protective qualities of the hard hat, then it violates 29 CFR 1926.100.
➤ Pro Tip: Always check with the manufacturer for any special instructions regarding wearing winter liners under your hard hat.
Questions? We Have Answers.
If you need help choosing the right FR clothing or head protection, just stop in to Rocky Mountain Industrial Supply, visit our website or give us a call at 307-472-5519. We’d love to help get you and your team in the gear they need to work safely.
We’re here to help keep the American workforce safe everyday.