Using high-quality protective clothing that is guaranteed to be flame resistant for the operational lifespan of the garment is of the utmost importance in ensuring the safety of employees working in hazardous industrial environments.
International protective clothing manufacturer Charnaud boasts a range of ARC protective clothing designed to protect workers from a variety of work related incidents, including an electric arc flash, which contains thermal and acoustical energy, pressure waves and debris. It can reach temperatures of up to 20 000oC within one third of a second, and cause fatal injuries at a distance of up to 3 m.
Charnaud sales and marketing director Dries Coetzer explains: “Flame resistant (FR) clothing offers the user protection from electric arc flash, molten metal droplets, flash fire, and welding exposures. It can prevent second and third degree burns and, in some cases,eliminates injuries altogether.”
Coetzer reveals that the FR portion of the fabric is a long-chain polymer engineered in-situ, which is locked in the core of the cotton fibre.“The patented engineering technology results in a fabric that is guaranteed to be flame resistant for the life of the garment.”
To determine the level of protection that a worker needs for a specific application, a risk assessment or arc flash hazard analysis mustbe carried out. This is done by determining the potential incident heat energy expressed as units of energy per square surface (cal/cm2). “Charnaud is able to assist customers in determining the level of protection that is needed, and the protective clothing that provides the required protection,” adds Coetzer.
He does, however, warn that there are issues with certain FR fabrics, which result in the garments losing their flame resistance over time. “SomeFR fabrics run the risk of losing their flame resistance after washing, and are subject to excessive shrinking, colour fading, premature wear, and UV degradation.It is critically important that the clothing remains flame resistant for the life of the garment.”
Coetzer highlights that many protective clothing garments are only flame resistant for a certain number of washes, after which the wearer is at risk. He points out that Charnaud’s electric arc flash garments are arc rated (AR) and are guaranteed to remain flame and arc resistant for the life of the garment, which means that these qualities cannot be washed out of the fabric.
“A test was carried out on a piece of the Charnaud FR fabric, which had an arc rating of 12,4 cal/cm2 as a new garment. It was re-tested after being used actively for four years, and approximately 200 washes. The results revealed a 30% increase in the arc rating (AR). This proves that the safety of Charnaud’s garments actually increase over time,” adds Coetzer.
According to Coetzer, there are several key aspects of protective clothing that should be considered. These include the permanence of the safety performance, the garment life expectancy, quality assurance, user comfort, and lifecycle cost.
“Charnaud is an innovative market leader with over 35 years of proven results. Over the last seven years, there has been a shift to make the clothing lighter, softer and more breathable, as well as more in line with fashionable designs,” he concludes.