Have you ever heard of disposable FR coveralls? They’re starting to appear more often in the workplace. You might be wondering why a person would ever want to use disposable garments. Shouldn’t FR clothing consist of strong, durable materials? Not necessarily.What are disposable FR coveralls?
Disposable FR coveralls provide an extra layer of protection. Employees should wear them on top of their regular FR clothing.
Some workers need to wear clothing that protects against aerosols and particulates. But at times, these employees also need protection from fire-related hazards. Disposable garments are a lightweight fabric that gives them the protection they need. There is a chemical coating that enables them to self-extinguish.
Disposable FR coveralls also help to maintain the integrity of your regular FR clothing. Disposables keep the dirt, grease, and grime off of your daily-use garments. This helps to extend the life of your FR clothing. They’ll require less cleaning, maintenance, and replacement. Disposable garments are a cost effective way of extending the life of your regular FR clothing.
What’s the difference between primary and secondary FR?
Primary FR garments provide adequate protection from fire-related hazards. Primary garments will self-extinguish when ignited, and will not continue to burn. They help to minimize the extent of burn injuries. Fabrics can either be inherently resistant to flames, or they can be treated with a chemical to achieve their flame-resistant properties.
Secondary FR garments are made with chemically-treated fabrics. They will also self-extinguish when exposed to a flame. But, secondary garments do not undergo all the same ASTM tests that primary garments do. Employees should never wear secondary garments as stand alone protection.
Can disposable garments be worn instead of regular FR clothing?
No. Never wear disposable FR coveralls as primary FR protection. Do not substitute disposable garments for regular FR clothing. They are only approved to wear over your primary protective clothing. Employers are required to provide the necessary PPE to their employees. And you need to know that you’re buying the right gear for the job.
When worn correctly, disposable garments will provide protection from the following:
- Non-Hazardous Aerosols
- Non-Hazardous Particulates
- Fire-Related Hazards (as a secondary garment)
- Arc-Flash Hazards (again, as a secondary garment)
Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use of disposable FR coveralls.
Will disposable coveralls burn?
Yes. When exposed to a flame, these fabrics will ignite. But, they won’t continue to burn once the flame source has been removed. It works just like other flame-retardant materiasl do. Disposable FR coveralls will self-extinguish. The intent is to minimize the extent of burn injuries. To learn more about FR clothing, read our other recent post, "The Difference Between FR and AR Clothing".
How do I maintain disposable FR coveralls?
You can reuse most disposable garments if they are in good condition. Check with the manufacturer to be sure. They typically do not recommend washing these garments. But, you can usually continue to use them until they become damaged or contaminated.
It’s best to store these garments in a cool, dry place. Keep them away from dust, dirt, and insects. Also, disposables can become damaged from the following:
- Direct sunlight
- High temperatures
- Exhaust fumes
Sharp objects can easily tear the fabric of these garments. Avoid stacking heavy materials on top of them in storage. Instead, store them in boxes, bags, or on hangers.
How do I tell if a disposable garment has been damaged?
Always check to make sure the garments are in good condition before using. Do not use damaged garments. If they show signs of contamination, cracks, or discoloration, dispose of them immediately.
The determination of whether or not a garment must be removed from service may depend on:
- The level of exposure
- The chemicals involved
- The proximity to the release
- The duration of the exposure
- The tasks performed
Usually the supervisor or safety manager will make this decision. But, employees must also recognize unsafe equipment. They should be inspecting their disposable garments before each use.
What is the proper way to dispose of these garments?
Disposable garments contain several different materials. They are not recyclable. However, most landfills will accept them as regular waste. As long as they aren’t contaminated with any hazardous products or chemicals.
Check with your local sanitation department. Find out what their specific requirements are. You’ll find some information on the garment tags.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and adhere to local waste regulations.
Before disposing of the garments, there’s one other thing you might want to do. Cut the sleeves or legs off. This will ensure that they don’t get used again. Somebody might come along and try to reuse a contaminated garment. This is one way to make sure this doesn’t happen.
What else should I know about these coveralls?
Disposable FR coveralls are used in several different industries. But they are most commonly found in these industries:
- Chemical plants
- Petroleum production
If you work in one of these industries, you may want to consider using disposable FR coveralls. Remember, only allow employees to wear them on top of their regular FR clothing. The industries listed above often have dusty, dirty, and harsh work environments. Disposable garments will keep your primary FR in good condition.
Extra layers can interfere with the ability to regulate body temperature. Be aware of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stress. Educate your employees on the signs and symptoms. Try to use balanced work/rest schedules to limit employee exposure to such hazards. And, give your workers plenty of opportunities to take water breaks.
Symptoms of heat stress include:
- Increased Heart Rate
- Increased Body Temperature
Another thing to watch out for is allergies. Some disposable FR coveralls contain natural rubber latex. Use caution if your employees have an allergy to latex. Check with the manufacturer to find out the ingredients in their products.
Zippers on disposable coveralls aren’t usually rated for flame-resistance. Let employees know about this limitation. This is one reason why primary garments must be worn underneath disposables. Employees should also make sure that the zipper does not make contact with their bare skin.
Where can I learn more?
Disposable FR coveralls can be a cost effective way to help protect your primary FR garments. Disposables should be worn over regular flame-resistant clothing. They protect against non-hazardous aerosols and particulates.
To learn more about how you can incorporate disposable garments into your workplace, give us a call. We’ll walk you through your options.
You can also check out this additional resource from DuPont.
Fire-related and arc flash hazards can be deadly. Take the necessary precautions to better protect your employees. Provide them with adequate PPE. Give them training. And help get them home safe.