Frequently Asked Questions

In the world of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and Flame/Fire Resistant Clothing (FR Clothing), there is a lot of terminology and technical jargon that at first glance can be confusing and contradictory. To make sure that we are all on the same page, we are answering all your burning questions about FR Clothing! We will cover a lot of information on our FAQ page, but if we happen to miss your specific question, please contact us and we will do our best to find the answer to your question.


You can e-mail us at sales@actionwear.ca or call 1-866-933-3088 within Canada and the United States to speak with a Customer Care Team Member. If you are calling from outside of North America, please call 306-933-3088.

Fundamentals of FR Clothing

Is it Flame Resistant or Fire Resistant?
Either word – flame or fire may be used. The words are equally correct and interchangeable. We use the term “flame resistant” in our literature and website for consistency.

What about Flame Resistant and Flame Retardant? Do these two terms have the same meaning as well?
No. In this case, the two terms are definitely different.

Flame (fire) resistant fabric is resistant to catching fire. It is self-extinguishing. When this fabric is exposed to the intense heat of a fire, it does not melt or drip.

Flame (fire) retardant fabric is a textile that normally would be flammable but due to a chemical treatment, it will help to prevent or delay a fire from starting by interfering with ignition process itself.

Note: There are no FR treated polyesters that meet the required FR safety standards for work wear. If the treated textile is polyester, the flame retardant process will help the fabric to ultimately self-extinguish. But in the process of the fabric burning, the polymers that make up the polyester fabric will melt and drip as a molten fluid which will result in serious burns to exposed skin.

What exactly does flame resistance mean and how does it work?
Flame resistance is the attribute of a material to self-extinguish (suppress or “put itself out”) once the material has been exposed to a fire and then removed from the original cause of the combustion. In a flame resistant garment, the actual garment will not provide impenetrable protection at the primary location where the fire initially made contact with the FR fabric. But, the FR garment will protect the wearer from greater injury that would occur from the spreading of the flame and the consumption of the fabric if the garment wearer was wearing a non FR garment.

As defined by the National Fire Protection Association in NFPA® 2112, “Flame resistance is the property of material where combustion is prevented, terminated, or inhibited following the application of a flaming or non flaming source of ignition with or without the subsequent removal of the ignition source.” Flame resistance can be an inherent property of the textile or it can be transmitted to the textile by a specific treatment.

Please note: FR garments will protect you if are caught in a fire – but they are not fire proof.

What is the difference between inherently flame-resistant fabrics and chemically treated FR fabrics?
With inherently flame resistant fabric, the actual structure of the fiber itself is non-flammable. The protection is built into the fiber – the flame resistance attribute is in the fiber’s DNA and it is a permanent, distinct and “inherent” component of the fabric and the flame resistance can never be worn away or washed out.

Chemically treated flame resistant fabrics have had a chemical treatment added to the fiber or a treatment on the fabric that forms a permanent bond with the fabric. The chemical treatment changes the actual molecular structure of the fabric. The FR attribute of the fabric cannot be removed by washing, provided that the cleaning instructions are adhered to.

Click here to see an article from Occupational Health and Safety (www.ohsonline.com) that explains everything about “inherent” and “treated” fabrics.

Who should wear Actionwear FR clothing?
Actionwear flame resistant clothing is designed specifically for workers in industries such as electrical maintenance, utilities, oil and gas, petrochemical, and steel. These workers are employed in environments where they are at risk of being exposed to such dangers as electric arc and/or flash fires. In the event of a momentary electric arc, flash fire or molten metal splash, non flame resistant work clothes can catch on fire and the fabric will continue to burn even after the source of ignition has been removed. Untreated natural fabrics will continue to burn until the fabric is completely consumed. Non flame resistant synthetic fabrics will burn, melt, and drip causing severe contact burns to the skin.

Wearing flame resistant (FR) clothing saves lives on the job because it:

    • substantially reduces burn injury
    • gives the wearer time to escape
    • increases the worker’s chances of survival

Employers are required by Occupational Safety and Health Associations standards – enforced by Ministries of Labor and Workers Compensation Boards – to provide FR clothing for employees that work in hazardous environments. Also industry specific safety standards, as well the Criminal Code of Canada, have standards and laws in place to provide protection for employees who work in high risk situations. Keeping workers safe is mandated by law. By providing quality FR garments for employees, employers demonstrate their commitment to safety and employee well-being. It can boost morale as well as increase safety when workers know that their company values them enough to provide them with the highest quality FR workwear available in the market.

Will non-treated 100% cotton and other natural fibers help protect against possible burn injury?
This is a common misconception! Non-treated natural fabrics such as cotton and wool are flammable; therefore, garments made from these fabrics are not safe to wear in situations where the wearer is at risk to exposure to fire. Untreated natural fibers will continue to burn until the fabric is completely consumed – which subjects the garment wearer to serious injury or even death.

What is the best FR fiber or fabric?
There is not one perfect FR fiber or fabric. Each flame resistant fabric has specific properties or characteristics – some characteristics are pros and some are cons. FR fabric suppliers have endeavored to enhance the performance of their products by blending different fibers together to create FR fabrics with the optimum attributes and to lessen the negative aspects. Blends are a combination of treated fibers and inherently FR fibers.

The choice of which FR fabric to select for your FR work wear really depends on what are the requirements for your company’s work environment. Since each FR fabric type has certain qualities and attributes that are meant to provide ultimate performance in specific circumstances, it would be advisable for your company’s Safety Officer and Purchasing Department to consult with Actionwear’s Sales Manager or a member of the Customer Service Team as to which FR fabric would be the best solution for your company. The final decision on what is the best FR work wear solution for your employees is ultimately up to your company’s Safety Department and Management.

Creating FR Clothing Programs

Overview
When setting up a protective clothing program for your company, one of the first steps the Safety Officer needs to take into consideration will be identifying and analyzing the risks and hazards that the employees could potentially encounter while they are working. Each industry has specific job situations that can be a hazard to their employees and require special requirements to protect their employees. Each type of hazard has different characteristics which require a different kind of protective garment.

After the hazard analysis is completed, the Safety Officer will need to examine the industry standards for the most current technical information to make sure the FR garments that are being considered will meet all the safety requirements according to the safety code or standard that applies to your company’s industry.

Who decides what FR standards are required for my job?
Your employer is responsible for identifying the risks and hazards in your place of employment. Your employer or Safety Officer will then research the industry standard associations and national safety standard associations’ regulations to determine what codes are applicable to your industry and workplace. Our Sales Manager and Customer Care Team are ready and willing to offer assistance to your Safety Officer to evaluate the industry and safety standards as they apply to your situation. Ultimately, your employer will have the final say in selecting the FR garment program and your employer will be responsible for their decision.

How do I choose the correct Flame Resistant garments?
Actionwear provides FR work wear to companies as part of a Personal Protective Equipment Program that has been set up specifically for that company. The company’s Safety Officer and Purchasing Department will work with our Sales Team on establishing a FR work wear program. A selection of work wear garments that are suitable for wearing in the summer or in the winter (lined and unlined garments) are put together into a company exclusive program and employees can choose from these pre-approved selections.

If your company doesn’t have a program set up with Actionwear, you will need to check with your employer about the Hazard Rating Category Level and the ARC ratings for your position and workplace. Once you have verified this information, you can look at the product information to see what FR garments meet the standards that are set for your workplace. Our Customer Care Team will be happy to help you with making the selection that best suits your FR work wear needs. Please contact our Customer Care Team if you need help with this!

What are the essential criteria that should be taken into consideration when choosing FR garments?
Here are some of the points that should be considered when deciding which FR garments are right for your company:

    • What fabrics are best suited to provide protection for the hazards and risks at your job?
    • Will this FR fabric provide optimal thermal protection for our workers?
    • Is the FR work wear comfortable to wear?
    • Will the FR fabric be durable enough to meet the demands of the job?
    • Is the FR work wear available in the color that our company requires?
    • Is the proper laundering procedures and maintenance of the FR garment practical?
    • Is the FR fabric and garment style suitable and attractive?
    • Will our employees wear the garment?
    • What is the long term use of the FR garment?
    • Is the cost of the FR garment over its anticipated life-time reasonable?
    • Does the FR fabric in the garment meet the standards set by our industry’s safety standards and/or Occupation and Health safety standards?

Click here to read the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Guide for the Selection and Use of Flame Resistant Workwear for more details on criteria for selecting the appropriate FR garments.

Who should determine the Hazard Risk Category an FR user should be wearing?
The HRC protection level for FR garments worn by a worker must be determined by the company’s Safety Officer. It is the responsibility of the employer to conduct a hazard risk assessment for each task and to determine the level of protection required for each task. This should never be determined by the apparel manufacturer or the retailer.

What is the price of FR Clothing? Isn’t it expensive?
Considering the cost of flame resistant fabrics, yes, FR clothing is more expensive than standard work wear. Even though FR clothing is higher priced than standard work clothing, it has a substantially greater wear life. This means the initial high cost of FR garments is offset by the longer usage which results in a comparable cost of FR work wear to regular work wear over time. Also, the cost of serious injury to just one worker (both the physical, mental and emotional cost to the person and the financial cost to the company) has the possibility of being greater than the price of providing FR clothing for the workers.

Which employees should be wearing FR Clothing?
Each company has to decide upon the requirements for their employees. The Safety Department for your company will need to determine which employees will need to wear protective FR work wear and under what situations. By referring to industry standards and safety regulations, the Safety Department will determine which standards and regulations are applicable to the company’s employees. The Safety Department will also take into consideration the hazards the employees may come into contact with while on the job. By compiling this information and analyzing the FR fabric choices and design features that Actionwear offers, the Safety Department and Purchasing Department can confer with Actionwear’s Sales Representative or Sales Manager for assistance in ordering the best option for your company’s workers. Your employer will make the final decision as to which FR fabric and style to purchase for employees.

Do contractors or temporary employees need to wear FR garments?
Contractors and temporary employees need to be protected just the same as permanent workers. In fact, regulatory organizations such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) have fined companies for not requiring contractors to wear FR garments when they are on-site. We can assist in providing FR garments for any contractors or others that need to access your work site. Call us today for assistance!

Can I just purchase whatever I want from the Actionwear product line?
By working together as a team, your company and Actionwear can make sure that the necessary safeguards are in place and all the standards that are applicable to your work place are covered. If you order on your own, you will need to make sure that the FR garment you purchase meets the requirements for your work site.

Criteria that are required for your work site would include such specifics as:

    • the proper choice of FR fabric
    • the garment style features that your company has selected
    • the correct design for the reflective tape design is used on your garment
    • the correct cresting options are added to the garment

Once the Actionwear Sales Manager has consulted with your company’s Safety Officer and your company’s requirements are established, the Actionwear Customer Care Team sets up all the information for your company’s FR garment program into our system as a “kit”. This kit is unique to your company. The kit has all the information regarding all the specifics for your company’s FR work wear clothing program such as style number, FR fabric choice, color, reflective tape placement, cresting requirements (company name, department name, employee name, etc.), any extra features such as mic tabs, mesh pockets, special closures or fasteners, and so on. These kits are set up to ensure that your company receives the highest level of customer satisfaction with prices and features that are specific for your company’s garment choice.

Some companies allow their employees to purchase their own FR work wear through an individual company credit card. Actionwear Saskatoon Inc. is able to accommodate these employees who wish to purchase on their own.

How do normal fabrics (non FR fabrics) react to being set on fire?
Normal non FR fabrics will burn starting at the origin of the flame on the fabric. The fabric will continue to burn even after it is removed from the source of the fire. It will burn at a rapid pace until:

    • the fabric is completely consumed
    • the wearer is able to take precautionary measures (“stop, drop and roll”) or
    • the fire is put out by an extinguisher

The resulting burns to the garment wearer’s body would likely be very extensive and severe.

How do FR fabrics react to ignition?
Flame resistant fabrics are specifically designed to prevent the fabric from catching fire. Flame resistant fabrics limit the flames from spreading from the original site of the flame. Due to the FR fabric’s flame resistant qualities, the fabric is able to suppress the fire once the fabric is removed from the source of the fire.

Evaluating the Hazard

Arc Flash
An arc flash is an explosive release of energy caused by an electrical arc. This explosive release of electrical energy travels through the air when a high-voltage gap occurs between ungrounded conductors or between an ungrounded conductor and a grounded conductor. When an arc flash occurs, it gives off a flash of heat and light which can cause injuries to anyone nearby. The heat from the thermal radiation from the arc flash has the potential to reach temperatures as high as 35,000° F (5,778° C), which happens to be the temperature of the sun’s surface (just to satisfy your curiosity, the sun’s central core temperature is 27,000,000° F or 15,000,000° C). The high temperature that is produced in an arc flash can cause skin to burn and also clothing to start on fire. Another danger that can occur in an arc flash incident is an arc blast. This occurs when pressure waves are caused by the air rapidly heating up, creating a blast. This arc blast is a similar in effect to a grenade explosion, making melted metals from the electrical components become projectiles that can pierce the flesh of anyone caught in its path.

According to NFPA® 70E:

“An electric current passes through air between ungrounded conductors or between ungrounded conductors and ground conductors, the temperature can reach 35,000 ºF. Exposure to these extreme temperatures both burns the skin directly and causes ignition of clothing, which adds to the burn injury. The majority of hospital admissions due to electrical accidents are from arc-flash burns not from shocks. Each year more than 2000 people are admitted to burn centers with severe arc flash burns. Arc flashes can and do kill at distances of 10 feet.”

Arc Flash Hazard
According to NFPA® 70E, an arc flash hazard is “A dangerous condition associated with the release of energy caused by an electric arc.”

Arc Thermal Performance Value – ATPV
ATPV is a rating that is designated to flame resistant fabrics that indicates the amount of protection that the fabric provides in the event of an arc burn. FR fabrics that are a heavier weight (for example, 9 ounces per yard compared to 7 ounces per yard) will have a higher ATPV. Also, layers of FR clothing will have a higher ATPV.

The Arc Thermal Performance Value is measured in calories per centimetre squared (cal/cm 2). The rating designates the level of thermal exposure that will cause a second-degree burn in human tissue.

Calorie – cal/cm2
A calorie is the energy required to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius at one atmosphere. A calorie is used as a measurement for the Arc Thermal Performance Value, which is a rating for evaluating FR fabrics in the event of an arc burn. One cal/cm2 would be the equivalent of holding your finger above the flame from a cigarette lighter for one second. A 1.2 cal/cm2 value would result in a second-degree burn. An 8 cal/cm2 value would result in a third-degree burn.

Flash Fire
A flash fire is a rapid and extreme fire that is caused by the ignition of a mixture of air and flammable particles. These particles could be:

Solids – dust from:

    • Wood
    • Grain
    • Sugar
    • Flour
    • Chemicals or metals

Liquids – aerosol or mist from:

    • Oils – motor, lubricating or cooking
    • Paints or paint thinners
    • Solvents
    • Light crude oils
    • Lacquers and varnishes

Gases – such as:

    • Propane
    • Methane
    •Butane
    •Kerosene
    •Gasoline

These are just a few examples of the solids, liquids and gases that could ignite into a flash fire if the particles that are suspended in air meet up with the other conditions that cause a flash fire.

A fire needs three elements to start:

    1. Fuel
    2. Oxygen
    3. Heat or Ignition

This is known as The Fire Triangle.

A dust explosion or flash fire requires two other elements:

    4. Dispersion of dust particles
    5. Confinement of dust particles in an enclosed space

This is known as The Explosion Pentagon.

According to CGSB 155.20-2000:

“A flash fire is a rapidly moving flame front which can be a combustion explosion. Flash fire may occur in an environment where fuel and air become mixed in adequate concentrations to combust…..flash fire has a heat flux of approximately 84kW/m2 for relatively short periods of time, typically less than 3 seconds.” Flash Fire as defined by NFPA® 2112 is, “A fire that spreads rapidly through a diffuse fuel such as dust, gas, or the vapors of an ignitable liquid without the production of damaging pressure.”

Hazard Risk Category – HRC
Hazard Risk Category (HRC) is a range of ratings that correlate with the Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV). There are 4 HRC levels that range from 1 to 4. HRC 1 has the least level of risk and HRC 4 has the greatest level of risk. The Hazard Risk Category is the level of FR garment you have to wear to ensure protection against the level of risk / ATPV that a worker could potentially encounter while working.

HRC Rating Chart

Who should determine the Hazard Risk Category an FR garment wearer should be using?
The HRC protection level for FR garments worn by a worker must be determined by the company’s Safety Officer. It is the responsibility of the employer to conduct a hazard risk assessment for each task and to determine the level of protection required for each task. This should never be determined by the apparel manufacturer or the retailer.

Understanding FR Fabric Standards and Testing

Overview
As stated on the Standards Council of Canada website:

Standards can help organizations ensure their products and services are consistent, compatible, effective and safe. They also help the public understand these important safety requirements.

The various industry safety associations compile safety standards that are pertinent to the regulations and hazards of that industry sector. The different standard associations have codes that are similar or overlap the codes of each other. By complying with the highest standards set, Actionwear is able to provide our customers with FR products that meet or exceed the industry standards.

What is the difference between a standard and a regulation?
What is the difference between a standard and a regulation? 3M (one of Actionwear’s trusted suppliers) has an excellent explanation of the difference between a standard and a regulation:

A Regulation:

    • is a Rule that we must follow
    • are rules that the Government makes under an Act
    • are rules made “real” and “enforceable” by the power that the Government gives itself under an Act
    • e.g. Health & Safety Act Regulation for Hearing Protection

A Standard:

    • is not written by Government
    • is written by organizations such as CSA, ANSI, CGSB, etc.
    • typically refer to product performance or how to do a job
    • has no authority on its own, but may be adopted into regulations making them legal requirements
    • may be referred to specifically in a regulation or through a “General Duty Clause”
    • regulatory bodies may adopt all or a part of an existing standard

Click here to see the 3M article explaining Standards and Regulations.

What do all these standards and test methods mean?
Standards and testing are important processes in setting industry sector standards because it allows for evaluating products or procedures without bias. In evaluating FR fabrics and garments, it also helps to determine a benchmark for interpreting the test results, which help companies select the appropriate FR fabrics and FR garments for their workers.

What happens if a company does not comply with the regulations and laws?
In the US, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can cite employers for not providing their employees with the appropriate protective equipment, including FR clothing. If you do not comply with the laws, you can leave your company open to OSHA fines and possible litigation from other sources.

In Canada, the provinces and territories are responsible for the enforcement of occupational health and safety laws. The Department or Ministry of Labour or the Workers’ Compensation Board are the agencies that enforce OH & S laws. Canada also has a federal law that is part of the Canadian Criminal Code that establishes the legal duties for organizations such as corporations and sets the mandatory requirements corporations must follow in providing a healthy and safe workplace for their employees. The main provisions of Bill C-45 (Section 217.1 in the Criminal Code) are:

    • Created rules for establishing criminal liability to organizations for the acts of their representatives.
    • Establishes a legal duty for all persons "directing the work of others" to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of workers and the public.
    • Sets out the factors that courts must consider when sentencing an organization.
    • Provides optional conditions of probation that a court may impose on an organization.

Who develops the Standards? And what are standards and test methods about?
There are four main standard organizations that set standards that pertain to work wear safety in North America. These organizations also provide laboratory and real-life test methods to test and verify the performance of products.

Standards Organizations

Here is a description of the four Standard Organizations that regulate standards for the FR garment industry, plus descriptions for the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in the USA.


ASTM Logo

ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials)

ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary standards developing organizations in the world...that provides a forum for the development and publication of international voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems and services. They develop technical documents that are the basis of manufacturing, management, procurement, codes and regulations for dozens of industry sectors.

Click here for more information about ASTM International.



CSGB Logo

CGSB (Canadian General Standards Board)

The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) is a federal government organization that offers client-centered, comprehensive standards development and conformity assessment services in support of the economic, regulatory, procurement, health, safety and environmental interests of our stakeholders — government, industry and consumers.

Click here for more information about Canadian General Standards Board.



CSA Logo

CSA (Canadian Standards Association)

The Canadian Standards Association is a not-for-profit membership-based association serving business, industry, government and consumers in Canada and the global marketplace.

As a solution-oriented organization, the CSA works in Canada and around the world to develop standards that address the real needs, such as enhancing public safety and health. Advancing the quality of life. Helping to preserve the environment. Facilitating trade.

The CSA helps people understand standards through education and information products and services. Each year, thousands of people benefit from the training materials, workshops and seminars offered by the CSA Learning Centre.

Click here for more information about Canadian Standards Association.



NFPA Logo

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA®)

NFPA® is a global non-profit organization, established in 1896, devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. NFPA® delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering our mission. NFPA® membership totals more than 60,000 individuals around the world. Their mission is: We help save lives and reduce loss with information, knowledge and passion.

Click here for more information about National Fire Protection Association.



CCOHS Logo

CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety)

The purpose of this Act is to promote the fundamental right of Canadians to a healthy and safe working environment by creating a national institute concerned with the study, encouragement and cooperative advancement of occupational health and safety, in whose governing body the interests and concerns of workers, trade unions, employers, federal, provincial and territorial authorities, professional and scientific communities and the general public will be represented.

Click here for more information about Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.


OHSA Logo

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

OSHA's mission is to "assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance". The agency is also charged with enforcing a variety of whistleblower statutes and regulations.

Click here for more information about Occupational Safety and Health Administration.


There are many general and industry specific codes, standards and testing methods established that can be used to determine the success or failure of FR garments. The intent of devising product testing and establishing standards is to provide consumers with a way to evaluate the performance of products with impartiality and to determine and to set the grades or levels of performance success that were actually achieved during the test. Generally, complying with the standards is voluntary but it is an excellent idea to use the standards to assure workers that the FR garments they are wearing meet the standards that have been set for safety and performance for flame resistant products.

Fabric Standard Overview
There are certain standards that are specific to certain industry sectors and to FR garments in particular. We have provided a list of the standards that pertain to the flame resistant (FR) industry.

Fabric Standards Chart

ASTM F1506
The American Society for Testing and Materials developed ASTM F1506 to define the Standard Performance Specification for Flame-Resistant Textile Material for Wearing Apparel for Use by Electrical Workers Exposed to Momentary Electric Arc and Related Thermal Hazards. This standard requires that a sample piece of flame resistant fabric will self-extinguish with a less than 2 second after flame and a less than 6” char length. The flame resistant fabric must also pass this test after 25 washing cycles. The fabric either passes or fails the test.

Bill C-45
Bill C-45 of the Canadian criminal code states that corporations may be criminally liable for acts of wanton negligence. Because of the risk of injury to employees in many businesses, this change in the law is especially relevant to occupational health and safety, as businesses may be held criminally liable if any business neglects to provide appropriate levels of protection to its employees. As such, many businesses have been asking questions about the protective garments they provide to their employees to ensure that the garments meet the appropriate standards.

CSA Z462
This is the Canadian equivalent to the American Standard NFPA®70E. CSA Z462 is approved by many of the provincial health and safety regulatory authorities. Since the CSA Z462 is harmonized with NFPA® 70E, see NFPA® 70E (below) for information.

CSA Z96-09
This Canadian standard pertains to the requirements for garments worn by workers in work sites where high visibility is a necessary safety concern. CSA Z96 specifies the required criterion for high visibility (high vis) work wear for three Classes or classifications and the work conditions that these classifications apply to. This code was revised in 2014. The US version of this safety code is ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 (American National Standard for High-visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear).

For more detailed information on CSA Z96-09, click here.

NESC 2017
The National Electric Safety Code (NESC) is the voluntary standard used by electric utilities to implement safety procedures for utility workers. NESC is also the standard OSHA uses when enforcing electrical utility safety. The latest revision, NESC 2017, includes flame-resistant clothing as a requirement. Similar to NFPA 70E, the NESC standard requires utilities to perform a risk assessment and then to require workers to wear flame-resistant clothing with an effective rating equal to the risk.

NFPA® 70E
NFPA® 70E is a code of the National Fire Protection Agency. This code is the Standard for Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces. Under the NFPA® 70E code, the requirements for employers to protect their workers from the possibility of being exposed to an electrical arc flash are documented. This is a voluntary standard – but, NFPA® 70E has been generally accepted as an industry standard. The OSHA has the authority to fine companies that do not ensure their workers’ safety by providing them with protective work wear. Employers are required to complete an analysis of the Hazard/Risk Category (HRC) at their work site and to provide the protective work wear that meets the arc thermal performance value (ATPV) required for the work environment. The NFPA® 70E is updated every three years and the most current revision was done in 2015.

NFPA® 70E is not legislated by law but the intention indisputable: companies are to all they can to protect their employees from bodily harm – that includes providing a safe place of employment for their workers including providing FR work wear that protects workers in situations such as flash fires and/or electrical arc flash.

NFPA® 1975
NFPA® 1975 states:

“This standard safeguards emergency services personnel on the job by establishing requirements for flame-resistant station uniform clothing that won't cause or exacerbate burn injury.

Provisions apply to design, performance, testing and certification of non-primary protective work apparel and the individual garments comprising work apparel. In addition, this document specifies criteria for thermally stable textiles that will not rapidly deteriorate, melt, shrink, or adhere to the wearer's skin, and also provides optional requirements and tests to verify flame resistance, odor resistance, water resistance, and insect repellency.”

NFPA® 2112
NFPA® 2112 is a code of the National Fire Protection Agency. This code is the Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire and it outlines the minimum requirements for flame resistant (FR) garments for use in work sites that are at risk from flash fire in the following categories:

    • design
    • performance
    • certification requirements, and
    • test methods

NFPA® 2113
NFPA® 2113 is a code of the National Fire Protection Agency. This code is the Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire. This purpose of this standard is to provide guidance for employers and workers who will be wearing the FR garments in selecting the appropriate garments for the workplace circumstances.

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) 29 CFR 1910.269 covers the operation and maintenance of electric power generation, control, transformation, transmission and distribution lines, and equipment. Part (l) (6) (iii) states: "The employer shall ensure that each employee who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electrical arc does not wear clothing that, when exposed to flames or electric arcs, could increase the extent of the injury that would be sustained by the employee." This regulation closely mirrors NFPA® 70E. As of April 1, 2015, employers must provide workers exposed to hazards from electric arcs with protective clothing and other protective equipment with an arc rating greater than or equal to the estimated heat energy.

Who should decide what Standard Codes need to be followed when selecting the FR garment a worker should be wearing?
The Standard Codes for FR garments worn by a worker must be determined by the company’s Safety Officer. It is the responsibility of the employer to evaluate the risks that their workers face while working and to determine the level of FR protection required for each task. Neither the FR garment manufacturer nor the retailer should ever be the one to decide which FR garment the worker should purchase. They are only to assist the Safety Officer or company management with information that will help the company to make an informed decision.

FR Fabric Choices

FR Fabrics at a Glance
The first step in evaluating a protective fabric is to identify the potential hazard and ensure the fabrics considered provide protection for the environment that it will be worn in. Selecting an FR fabric is an individual choice, and must be made by the end-user company. Actionwear garments are made using only trusted FR fabric brands that have significant field experience and a reputation for the highest quality. All of the products offered by Actionwear offer proven protection in a variety of applications. Actionwear specializes in manufacturing FR clothing and has the technical expertise to help educate purchasers on the relative merits of each product. There are often trade-offs between criteria such as level of protection, price, comfort, and appearance. It is up to the end-user to make the final choice.

There are a wide variety of flame-resistant fabrics available. Factors to consider in fabric selection include protection, cost, wear life, comfort, color selection, care requirements and availability. Actionwear offers a wide selection of trusted FR fabrics, garment styles, and colors to best meet the wearers' needs.

When reviewing the fabric choices for your company’s FR work wear program, here are some questions to consider:

• What is the level of thermal protection required for the workers and which FR fabrics provide that level of protection?

• Is the fabric resistant to collecting static electricity?

• Are there situations that are specific to our workplace that have to be considered in making a FR fabric choice:

    - Arc Hazard?
    - Chemical Hazard?
    - Molten Metal Hazard?

• Are garments made with this FR fabric comfortable to wear?

• Is the fabric strong enough and stable enough to resist wear and to stand up to rough use?

• Does the fabric have a pleasing appearance and feel?

• Is the fabric available in the color or colors that your company requires?

• Is the fabric easy to launder or does it require special laundering techniques?

• Will our employees wear the garments that are made with this fabric?

• What is the proportionate cost over the garment’s life cycle?

Have your Safety Officer double-check with your Company’s Management to make certain that all safety considerations have been considered and that the Hazard Rating Category Level and ARC ratings for your particular job have been verified.

For complete descriptions of the fibers and fabrics Actionwear uses to manufacture our FR work wear, please click here.

Fabric Durability - Will the FR protection wear or wash out?
The FR performance of the products offered by Actionwear is guaranteed for the life of the garment. For some products, such as Nomex IIIA and TECASAFE™ Plus, the FR performance is inherent in the chemical composition of the fiber, therefore the FR performance cannot be removed. For other products, such as INDURA® ULTRA SOFT®, the flame-resistant treatment is guaranteed for the life of the garment – provided that proper laundering procedures are followed.

How do you know the FR protection is still there?
If the garment is made with inherently flame resistant fabric, the FR performance cannot be removed. If the fabric used is not inherent, there is no way of testing the FR performance of a garment in the field without destroying the garment in the process. As well, test results from one garment are not necessarily indicative of the performance of other garments in the program because no two garments will have been subjected to the same conditions and usage – which could very well affect the FR performance of the different garments. We recommend only using FR fabrics because the fabric manufacturer guarantees the protection will last for the life of the garment. Also make sure to follow all laundering instructions as supplied by the FR fabric manufacturers. By using the recommended cleaning methods and products, the fabric will be kept at its optimal condition and the FR qualities of the garment will continue to protect you as you are work in high risk working environments – no matter how many times the FR garment is washed at home or at an industrial laundry service provider.

Garment Choices

Overview
Actionwear offers a broad range of garments to meet all of your FR requirements. Click here to view our products with full descriptions and photos of all our products.

Garment Comfort

Is FR clothing comfortable?
The answer to the question of whether FR clothing is comfortable (or not) is based on personal perception. Since workers wear FR clothing to protect themselves from the hazards in their work setting, they will need to wear coveralls with long sleeves or pants and a long-sleeve shirt to provide full-body protection. When weather conditions are hot, workers are going to feel warm no matter if they are wearing FR garments or not. Today, there is a wide range of choices when it comes to FR fabrics. Some types of FR fabrics are perceived to be more comfortable to wear than others.

Garment Fit

What is the proper fit for FR garments?
The FR garment should be roomy enough to allow for space between the garment and the worker’s body. These spaces, or air gaps, will help to provide extra protection for the worker if they were ever to be caught in a flash fire because air happens to be very good at providing an insulation factor when it used in combination with the FR garment. Another point to take into consideration when fitting FR garments is that the fabric will shrink approximately 3% as it is burning (thermal shrinkage). If the FR garment is snug, the fabric will make contact with the skin as the fabric initially burns before extinguishing itself. The air gap provides an extra measure of protection for the garment wearer. Just do not select too loose of a fit with your FR garment because that would increase the danger of having the garment getting caught in machinery and other equipment.

What should be worn underneath FR clothing?
The FR garment should be either worn over a natural, non-melting undergarment or a FR garment. A 100% cotton t-shirt and underwear under a FR garment such as a Nomex IIIA coverall would be a suitable combination. The layering of FR garments will greatly increase the “thermal protection” (previously described above) because the air gaps that occur with the layering of clothing give the garment wearer greater protection if they are exposed to a fire – provided FR garments are worn as prescribed by your company’s Safety Officer.

What about wearing outer garments (such as jackets) over FR clothing?
The outside layer in the FR clothing ensemble should always be flame resistant. Wearing non FR garments on top of the FR garment will interfere and undermine the integrity of the FR garment. Also, the non FR garment will burn easily and continue to burn (it will not self-extinguish), acting as a source of fuel and potentially injuring the wearer. It just doesn’t make sense to go through the expense of providing protective garments for the workers and then putting a fuel source for flames on top of the FR garment. It just isn’t worth it!

How do I know which size to order?
We have provided a sizing tool on our website to assist with the selection of the correct garment size. There are also sizing charts with measuring instructions on our website. Actionwear’s Customer Care Team can assist with providing a suitable garment size if provided with the measurements for height, weight, chest, inseam and waist.

Will the FR garment shrink?
Since FR fabric will shrink about the same amount as non FR fabric, be sure to take that into consideration when sizing FR garments for your workers. Also, following the laundry instructions will ensure that your FR garment will remain the same size throughout your garment’s life.

Garment Style

Overview
The style of a garment is an important consideration for the garment wearer’s comfort and appearance. Actionwear offers a wide range of styles and colors to choose from. Our comfortable fit and appealing styles have been developed from over 40 years of experience in manufacturing work wear. Actionwear manufactures a complete line of FR clothing to provide garments for all types of industries and all kinds of climates.

Design Features
Some of Actionwear FR design features that enhance functionality and comfort include:

    • Extra-long tails on shirts to avoid skin from being exposed when reaching overhead
    • Pocket flaps on chest pockets to prevent items from falling out
    • Extra-large pockets, and lots of them
    • Extra-long zippers (two way)
    • Roomy fit and cut
    • Banded collars and true front pockets on shirts
    • Action styled backs for ease of movement
    • Details like pencil pockets, adjustable cuffs
    • All metal parts or zippers are protected on the inside by another layer of FR fabric so that no metal components come in contact with the skin
    • Optional add-on features:

      - Padded knees
      - Mesh gas pockets
      - Radio pockets

    Actionwear FR Arctic Survival System features:

      • leather cuffs
      • fur hood trim
      • passage ways for radio wiring

Garment Customization

Does Actionwear provide embroidery to customize my FR garment?
Yes, Actionwear can provide complete custom on-site embroidery services for all of our products. Patch crests are made with FR material to match or contrast with the garment. The crests are sewn onto the FR garment with FR thread. The embroidery thread used on the patch crest is NOT FR, but as mentioned above, the material for the crest is FR and it is sewn onto a FR garment with FR thread. The non-FR embroidery thread on the patch crest is separated from the garment wearer’s body by at least one layer of FR fabric.

The following types of crests can be added on to your FR work wear:

    • Name bars
    • Department or Unit crests
    • Company crests
    • Other identification crests

Please contact one of our Customer Service Specialists at 1-866-933-3088 or at sales@actionwear.ca if you would like to add embroidery to your order.

Can I have 3M Scotchlite™ Reflective Materials added to my garments?
Yes, Actionwear has several 3M Scotchlite™ Reflective Materials that can be added to your garment. The reflective material can be positioned to meet your visibility requirements. The 3M Scotchlite™ used on Actionwear FR garments is flame resistant.

Where can I have 3M Scotchlite™ Reflective Materials applied?
Here are our most popular 3M Scotchlite designs:

RA Scotchlite Design

RA Scotchlite Design




RAP Scotchlite Design

RAP Scotchlite Design




WCB of BC Standard Scotchlite Design

WCB Scotchlite Design




CSA Z96-02 Standard Scotchlite Design

CSA Scotchlite Design


Can I order custom-sized garments?
Actionwear recognizes that not every worker can find a proper fit in the standard-size range. To ensure that our customers will have a satisfactory fit, Actionwear will produce custom-sized garments to fit the customers who are unable to wear garments from our standard-size range. We maintain records in our custom-size data base to ensure that our custom-sized customers receive garments that fit properly each time they order. Some manufacturers will supply oversized garments to fit extra tall workers. The size substitution results in a person wearing garments that are not properly sized and unsafe. Custom sizes are manufactured and shipped within three to four weeks of the order date. There is a surcharge for custom products. Items that are custom made are not eligible for return. Please contact one of our Customer Service Specialists at 1-866-933-3088 or at sales@actionwear.ca for assistance when ordering custom-sized garments.

Garment Care and Maintenance

How are FR garments cleaned?
Each Actionwear garment contains a label with laundering instructions. Actionwear can provide more detailed laundering instructions upon request. Please check the garment label for laundering instruction as instructions vary by the type of FR fabric used. Garments should be laundered before they are worn for the first time and after each use. This will remove any flammable matter that may have adhered to the fabric while being used – which may affect the performance of the FR garment if it exposed to electrical arc or a flash fire.

It is advisable to launder FR garments separately from non-FR garments as the fibers from the non-FR garment may transfer to the FR garment – which may interfere with the ability of the FR garment to perform properly in the event of a hazard.

For specific laundering instructions, please click on the fabric name from the following list:

Nomex IIIA
Nomex MHP
UltraSoft
Tencate Tecasafe Plus
Springfield DH

How are FR garments repaired?
Flame resistant garments are an expensive investment in the workers’ safety so it is important to keep FR garments in peak condition for as long as possible. By following the laundering instructions, FR garments can stay in service until the garment actually just wears out. If the FR garment has a small rip or a small wear spot in the fabric, the garment can be repaired with a patch – but:

    1. it must be repaired with the same FR fabric as the garment was made from, and
    2. it must be repaired with the same FR thread as the garment was made from.

The performance and safety of the protective garment will be compromised if these two steps are not followed. You do not want to endanger your workers by having a FR garment fail in a fire because non-FR fabric and/or non-FR thread were used in a repair and the worker suffered a burn injury on their body in the location of the non-compliant repair.

How often does FR clothing have to be replaced?
The service life for FR garments will depend on several factors:

    • the type of FR fabric that is used,
    • the quality of the construction of the garment,
    • the work conditions the FR garment is worn in, and
    • if the laundering instructions are being properly followed.

Some FR garments are still in service after 5 years of use and some FR garments only last 12 to 18 months. To lengthen the life of the garment, repairs can be made by patching with FR fabric and FR thread. Garments should be inspected regularly to make sure that components such as zippers, snaps, Velcro closures, buttons, etc. are in good working order and that any rips, tears, worn spots, worn out seams, etc. are repaired before wearing the FR garment for work.

When FR garments can no longer be repaired, are contaminated with chemicals or are unattractive due to excessive wear, then the garment should be taken out of service and replaced with a new FR garment.

Do insect repellants containing DEET have any effect on FR clothing?
Insect repellants containing DEET (N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) should not be sprayed onto a FR garment because the DEET can compromise the flame resistant qualities of the FR garment. DEET contains flammable chemicals, so spraying DEET on a FR garment may have a negative impact on a garment's flame resistance. Testing has shown that applying insect repellant to FR garments can cause the material to burn. If a worker wants to repel mosquitoes, ticks and other insects, they should apply the DEET product directly on their skin and not on their FR garments.

Garment Wear Tips
Flame Resistant clothing is part of a personal protection equipment system. The FR garment you wear could save your life – but it has to be utilized properly in order to be effective. It is essential that your FR work clothing is properly maintained and cleaned according to the manufacturer’s laundry instructions.

• Make sure to wear the FR garment correctly, utilizing all of the safety features that are included in the garment design:

    - Close the snap at the top of the zipper
    - Use the Velcro on the stand-up collar to protect the neck
    - Close the snaps on the sleeve cuffs – do not roll up the sleeves

• For maximum protection, FR garments should have a loose fit. A looser fit also provides increased mobility for the garment wearer.

• Layering FR garments significantly increases FR protection.

• Wearing 100% cotton or wool undergarments can improve comfort and increase protection – provided that no portion of the non-FR garment is exposed.

• The FR garment should be the outermost layer. Wearing flammable garments such as jackets or sweatshirts over your FR clothing can seriously add to burn injury.

• Wearing flammable garments such as hooded jackets (hoodie) underneath your FR clothing can cause a dangerous situation as the parts of the hoodie that are outside of the FR garment could potentially catch fire and burn into the inside of the FR garment.

• Within each fabric type (for example, Nomex ®IIIA or Indura® UltraSoft®), the heavier the fabric, the more protection the garment will provide. For example, 9 ounce Indura® UltraSoft® provides more protection compared to 7 ounce Indura® UltraSoft®.

• Ensure your FR garment is appropriate for the potential hazard. While many FR fabrics/garments provide protection from several hazards, some hazards such as molten aluminum splash require special FR materials for maximum protection.

For safety sake, be sure to wear the FR garment continuously while on the work site. This wear tip is to ensure that workers are protected at all times – and also to reduce the hazard of static electric charge build up that could occur from zipping and unzipping or snapping and unsnapping the FR garments. Check with your Safety Officer about grounding procedures when entering and exiting work areas that have potential Arc Hazards or Flash Fire Hazards.

Care Labels
Instructions for laundering Actionwear’s FR garments can be found on the label sewn inside of each Actionwear garment. Click here for specific laundering instructions.

Choosing an FR Garment Manufacturer

What criteria should be considered when selecting an FR garment manufacturer?
It is important to select an established manufacturer with a trusted supply chain and dependable reputation in the FR clothing industry. Items to also consider include the manufacturer’s fabric selection and styles, garment quality, price, delivery capabilities, customer service, quality control process, and focus on FR. The manufacturer’s ability to provide technical expertise to help a company to develop the optimal FR program to meet their unique needs and application should also be taken into consideration.

Garment Label Information
Click here to see a sample of the garment label that is sewn into the FR garment and click here to see a sample of the Canadian General Standards Board label of approval.

How to Place an Order With Actionwear

New Customers
Please contact a Customer Service Specialist to set up an account. You can reach a representative by calling 306-933-3088 or toll free within Canada at 1-866-933-3088. You can also fill in a contact form and one of our representatives can call you to set up an account. Please click here to fill out our Contact Form.

Existing Customers
You may choose any of the following ways to place an order with Actionwear:

BY FAX: Existing customers can place an order via fax at 1-306-934-2922.

BY E-MAIL: Existing customers can place their order via e-mail at sales@actionwear.ca. Please include your purchase order number and account number with your order.

ONLINE: Coming soon!

What currency is shown on the website?
The prices on the website are shown in the currency as negotiated (Canadian or US Dollars).

How can I pay for my purchases?
Actionwear has a variety of payment options to choose from. Payment options include:

Invoice with Net 30 Day terms upon credit approval

If you are a new customer interested in a terms account, a credit application will need to be submitted for pre-approval before placing an order. Contact our customer service department at 1-866-933-3088 to request a credit application. Please fax or e-mail a completed credit application with your purchase order to our customer service department at 1-306-934-2922. Once your credit application is approved, a customer service representative will notify you of acceptance and credit limit.

Visa, MasterCard or American Express

This option is available only at the time of purchase. We cannot process a credit card once the order has been invoiced with terms.

If you have unique needs for order processing, billing or multi-location shipments, Actionwear will work with you to accommodate them. Just call our Customer Service Specialists at 1-866-933-3088 within Canada or 306-933-3088 for out-of-country inquires.

Shipping Information

How can my order be shipped?
Your order can be shipped using your choice of transportation company or courier. Please provide your transport account information and indicate the level of service required when placing your order.

What is Actionwear's return policy?
Please e-mail, fax or contact one of our Customer Service Specialists in the event that an item needs to be returned. You will be issued a Return Authorization Number which must accompany the garment when it is returned, along with a reason for the return. Returns must be sent by prepaid freight. We suggest Canada Post or another cost effective method of shipping. If an item is sent freight collect, we reserve the right to deduct the collect freight amount from the credit or to charge this amount to your account. If a product is returned for inspection and is found to have a manufacturer’s defect, Actionwear will credit the return postage – or the postage amount if the return was sent courier prepaid – to your account.

If the items were shipped as ordered and the return is accepted by Actionwear, the credit will be subject to a 5% restocking charge.

Items that are custom made are not eligible for return.

Disclaimer

Please Read!
The information provided here is updated regularly to stay current with any changes in the Flame Resistant apparel industry and with industry standards. The information provided is an overview of industry safety standards and Occupational Health and Safety regulations.

It is your responsibility to gain a full understanding of the scope of the industry safety standards and OSHA rules and regulations as they pertain to your company and your industry.

It is necessary to conduct a hazard risk analysis at your work site and to have safety procedure training to insure that the flame resistant work wear that is purchased from Actionwear will provide the highest level of protection for your workers and to make sure that the work wear is suitable for the hazards your workers may encounter on the job.

Every effort is made to provide accurate information on the website; however, Actionwear Saskatoon Inc. accepts no liability for the content of this website or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. Any views or opinions presented in this website are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.