PPE Basics & Standards
How to Wear Flame Resistant (FR) and Arc Rated (AR) Clothing
- A Protective Outer Layer
- First layer to be exposed and must always be flame resistant.
- Flammable and/or fusible (melt-able) clothing can continue to burn after the electric arc or fire incident contributing heat to:
- Any exposed body areas.
- Through the PPE to the body.
- With All Closure Systems Fastened (Includes collar, front torso, arms and legs)
- Flaps, buttons, snaps, or zippers fastened.
- Not being closed compromises the PPE’s protective integrity:
- Thermal insulating properties are diminished or lost.
- Non-melting, but flammable base layers that could enhance thermal insulation, can instead ignite, and contribute to burn severity.
- With Base Layers That Do Not Diminish Protection
- Do not wear fusible clothing, it is better to wear nothing under your PPE compared to clothing that can melt and thereby efficiently transmit heat to the skin.
- Non-melting, but flammable clothing can enhance thermal insulation. However, when there is the potential for electric arcs, due to their explosive nature, the arc rating for the outer protective fabric must be sufficient to prevent “break-open” and ignition of the base layer.
- FR/AR base layers enhance thermal insulation and will not ignite. When arc tested in combination with an outer FR/AR layer an enhanced clothing system arc rating can be used for that FR/AR clothing combination.
- In A Good State of Repair
- Rips and tears will compromise the integrity of the PPE, such as having closure systems improperly fastened.
- Heavy soiling with flammable contaminants could be similar to wearing a flammable and/or fusible outer garment.
PPE Flash / Short Duration Fire
NFPA 2112: Standard on Flame-Resistant Clothing for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures from Fire: Edition 2023
- Initiated in recognition of how clothing worn by personnel was often hazardous by contributing more to burn severity in hydrocarbon flash and short duration fires, than would have the original fire. Victims of these fires typically shared common burn patterns with all or most of their exposed heads having superficial or partial thickness burns -no or little skin grafting required, but areas covered by their clothing having deep partial or full thickness burns requiring skin grafting, while also sometimes still having some areas with no burns at all. This is why compliant flame resistant (FR) clothingI is designed to first not contribute to burn severity, and then instead provide a degree of thermal protection in short duration fire incidentsII.
- The FR clothing personal protective equipment (PPE) standard specified by NFPA 2113 Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures from Fire. (Note: NFPA 2113 includes detailed help for “end users” in determining if their worksites and activities require NFPA 2112 compliant PPE, and if so how to implement FR clothing policies & programs.)
- Compliant FR clothing can also be water repellent, but FR rainwear is specifically addressed by “ASTM F2733-21 Standard Specification for Flame-Resistant Rainwear for Protection Against Flame Hazards” www.astm.org/Standards/F2733.htm
- Compliance requires third party garment certification by an independent accredited certifying organization, complete with its label, symbol, or identifying mark permanently attached to the PPE FR clothing. The specified certification requirements warn how without this required labelling, no claims are to be made on meeting or complying with any part of this standard. This certification, like that of other types of PPE helps ensure the protective properties are there when needed most.
- Provides design, construction, labelling and performance minimum specifications for manufacturers, suppliers, and certifying organizations.
- FR performance specifications provided for:
- Single layer clothing i.e., shirts, pants, summer coveralls
- Cold weather multilayer and insulated clothing i.e., vests, jackets, parkas, insulated coveralls
- Barrier face covering i.e. often called cloth face coverings initiated in response to COVID.
- Shrouds, hoods, and balaclavas.
- Exception removes requirement for the ASTM F1930 manikin fabric test.
- Exceptions include removal of the ASTM F1930 manikin fabric test, and use of more specific and appropriate test requirements including some ongoing developments posted as TIA’s on NFPA 2112’s website)
- A “safety net” of performance test procedures are stipulated due to the impossibility of a testing laboratory being able to duplicate all “real world” short-duration thermal exposures from fire.
- Garment components, and not garments are performance tested. Component test criteria includes that for the protective fabric, thread, closure systems (i.e., buttons, snaps, zippers), interior garment labels, and any high visibility striping, linings, or cold weather insulation. (Note: Exterior emblems, heraldry, crests, and embroidery are not required to be FR, but users are cautioned to limit their size and number.)
- The protective -outer, flame resistant fabricIII layer has the most comprehensive performance testing protocol due to it being:
- In single layer FR clothing, the protective barrier for both the wearer’s skin and any flammable base clothing.
- In multilayer garments, the protective barrier for the inner heat and melt resistant materials.
- The protective fabric’s FR performance test requirements are amongst the highest for PPE clothing, and include:
- The flame resistance (ignition & melting) test procedures requires flammability testing:
- “As received”, and after 100 launderingsIVand 100 dry cleanings.
- With a maximum afterflame time of 2 seconds, and char length of 100 mm (4 in.).
- The large-scale NFPA 2112 ASTM F1930’s instrumented manikin fabric testV as the final protective fabric thermal heat test – fabric is exposed to large burners/torches at 2 cal/cm2, for 3 seconds resulting in a 6 cal/cm2 heat flux exposure.
- The flame resistance (ignition & melting) test procedures requires flammability testing:
- NFPA 2112’s ASTM F1930 specially designed test (not production) coverall is used to predict the
protective FR fabric’s overall thermal protective performance using the heat flux of a simulated flash
fire. Results are provided as a percentage of the predicted 2nd and 3rd degree burns from sensors on the manikin, and do not include burns on the hands and feetVI. Fabric failure occurs when these predicted burns exceed a maximum of 50%. (Note: some other PPE standard’s max. is 40%)
- INFPA 2112 compliant FR clothing is designed to be “work” clothing, worn all day in different weather and work environments. This makes it different from task specific PPE such as that worn by fire fighters for structural and proximity firefighting. Therefore, selecting FR clothing must also consider work environments i.e., very hot versus cold, and job tasks such as monitoring instrument controls versus those exposed to welding slag and/or heavy soiling.
- IIEngineering clothing from being a significant contributor to burn severity, to instead being protective, is conceptually similar to that done in the AR clothing PPE standard ASTM F1506. However, NFPA 2112’s flame resistance testing is more severe/restrictive to better simulate field incident exposures i.e. clothing contamination by flammable materials, and flammable vapor clouds.
- IIIWhen/if using mesh venting material, be aware that to the best of my knowledge there is no “mesh” that complies with the protective fabric’s requirements, and consequently garment design must also be considered to ensure the protective integrity of this PPE.
- IVThe laundering procedure specified in NFPA 2112 flammability testing uses an “acid/sour rinse” process similar to that of most industrial/commercial laundries, and therefore different from that of home laundering procedures. Sometimes home laundering with “hard water” can be a flammability concern as discussed in NFPA 2113.
- VASTM F1930 is not a flame resistance test, and sometimes fabric’s meeting and exceeding its performance requirements have been found in field incidents to be flammable and thereby contribute to burn severity, instead of providing thermal protection.
- VIASTM F1930 burn percentages should not be confused with the TBSA percentages used by medical burn treatment units as those include all the body surface area.
NFPA 2113, Current Edition: 2020, Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures from Fire
NFPA 2113: Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures from Fire
Do you know if you need FR clothing, what FR garments are, and how to correctly select, use and look after them? Does your workplace have flammable materials and the potential for short duration thermal incidents including what some call “flash fires”, “dust explosions”, or the potential need to quickly egress from accidental fire exposure from a burning warehouse or other situations? If so, the NFPA 2113 standard will help with this and more. However, it is not for electrical flashes, fire fighters and other emergency services personnel, or biological and chemical protection as these are addressed by other standards.
NFPA 2113 is the companion standard to the NFPA 2112 personal protective equipment (PPE) flame resistant (FR) garment standard. NFPA 2113 helps employers and workers recognize what their responsibilities are, and determine if FR garments are required with pertinent information for a workplace hazard analysis and risk assessment. If FR clothing (i.e., shirts, pants, coveralls, jackets, insulated cold weather gear) hoods, balaclavas or gloves etc. are required, it then helps with how to select, care, maintain and use NFPA 2112 compliant FR garments, including guidance on the workforce training required for this type of PPE.
NFPA 2113 is the best practices guide for the NFPA 2112 PPE standard, and developed for the “end user” complete with accompanying explanatory annexes, while also being referenced by many regulatory and enforcement authorities. We recommend following the NFPA.org hyperlink above to read its Scope, and to ensure you acquire the current edition.
We manufacture apparel third party certified compliant with NFPA 2112, and other PPE standards and are also willing to help with any issues or questions you may have.
PPE Arc Rated
CSA Z462 Workplace Electrical Safety Standard, 2021 Edition
- To help protect workers in electrical workplaces from experiencing severe thermal burns.
- Initiated in response to what was originally believed to be injuries resulting from an electrical burn but found instead to be thermal burns resulting from electric arc flash. This was part of the realization of how the clothing typically worn in these incidents, was often hazardous by contributing more to burn severity than would have the arc flash itself. Now it’s appreciated how clothing can be engineered to not be hazardous, and instead protective in arc incidents. (Note: Engineering clothing from being a significant contributor to burn severity, to instead being protective is conceptually similar to that done in the FR clothing standards NFPA 2112 and CAN/CGSB-155.20)
- Helps ensure compliance with the USA’s OSHA 1910.269, and other jurisdiction’s regulatory requirements.
- In response to COVID-19 and limiting community spread biological hazards, a special category has been added for FR Cloth Face Coverings (FRCFC). Special labelling requirements are provided due to their size, as well as a caution that these do not provide any level of arc flash protection to the head, face, and neck and instead that is specified by the PPE standard ASTM F2178.
- (Note: ASTM F1506 does not address arc rated rainwear. AR rainwear is specified by the ASTM F1891 Arc and Flame Resistant Rainwear standard available at: www.astm.org/f1891-19.html)
- ASTM F1506 is the arc rated (AR) personal protective equipment (PPE) clothing standard specified by workplace electrical safety standards including:
- CSA Z462-2021, Workplace Electrical Safety Standard www.csa.ca
- (Table 5, Apparel – Arc-rated: ASTM F1506)
- NFPA 70E-2021, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® www.nfpa.org
- (Table 130.7 © (14), Clothing – Arc-rated: ASTM F1506)
- CAN/ULC S801 Standard on Electric Utility Workplace Electrical Safety for Generation, Transmission and Distribution www.scc.ca/en/standardsdb/standards/25740
- CSA Z462-2021, Workplace Electrical Safety Standard www.csa.ca
Compliant Arc Rated Clothing:
- Is labelled to ASTM F1506, and with its AR clothing labelling requirements including:
- Clearly stating “Meets requirements of Performance Specification F1506”
- Providing the garment’s arc rating (i.e., 6.3, 8.4, 12 cal/cm2 etc.) identified as either an ATPV or Ebt.
- Providing identification and traceability requirements including the manufacturer’s name or tracking code, fabric identification and garment style etc.
Non-Compliance Issues Includes Those:
- Using incorrect arc ratings such as IEC 61482 ASTM F1959’s arc ratings, instead of ASTM F1506’s ASTM F1959/F1959M arc ratings.
- Using made up, false and misleading garment labels such as those claiming the clothing complies with one of the electrical workplace standards i.e. NFPA 70E and/or CSA Z462. Note: these electrical workplace standards do not provide garment labelling requirements, instead they specify what PPE standard must be complied with, and then these PPE standards -including ASTM F1506, specify their own specific labelling requirements.
Garment Design Requirements Include:
- Metal fasteners or closures, i.e., snaps, buttons, zippers, have a layer of thermally insulating AR/FR protective fabric between them, and the inner (skin) side of the garment.
- Non flame resistant (FR), heraldry i.e., exterior logos, crests, name tags, and flag patches, are recommended to at maximum, have an individual size of 16 inches2 and total area of 40 inches2.
Garment Component Performance Tests Include:
- Thread used in garment construction be inherently flame resistant, and not melt.
- All slide fastener tape (material “zipper” teeth are attached to) be inherently flame resistant.
- Hardware, if visible on the outside of the garment, be tested for heat resistance and “shall remain sufficiently functional to allow the garment to be removed”.
- Visibility enhancements be FR. High visibility striping/trim be tested for flame resistance, and either certified to NFPA 2112, or tested at least once every six months. (Note: Early ASTM F1506 editions did not include this requirement)
- Fabric flammability and flame resistance (FR) test requirements -depending on garment labelling, include testing most fabrics before and after a minimum of 25 launderings and/or dry-cleanings. The test procedure allows for a maximum after-flame time of 2 seconds, char length of 152 mm (6 inches), and no melting or dripping. However, some non-woven fabrics can be tested “as received”, and after no, or only 5 launderings.
- The final test -after the flame resistance requirements have been complied with, is to determine the clothing’s arc rating. For this, specimen samples of the FR protective fabric(s) -not garments, mounted in panels and ASTM F1506 ASTM F1959/F1959M tested for their arc rating:
- Single layer garments (i.e., shirts, pants, summer coveralls), have a single layer of the FR fabric used in the garment’s construction arc rating tested.
- Multilayer garments (i.e., lined jackets, insulated parkas) have all their FR fabrics/materials layered together in the order used in the garments, and arc rating tested. Note: This is the arc rating test procedure specified by NFPA 70E and CSA Z462 for clothing system arc ratings, and what some also call total system arc ratings (TSAR).
- ASTM F1959/F1959M testing demonstrates how changing the order of the layered materials can significantly impact the clothing system’s arc rating.
- Arc ratings depending on which occurs first, are to be expressed, identified as either:
- An arc thermal performance value (ATPV), when the incident energy on a material(s) is predicted with a 50% predictability, to result in sufficient heat transfer to cause the onset of a second-degree skin burn injury, or
- Breakopen threshold energy (EBT or Ebt), when the incident energy on a material(s) is predicted with a 50% predictability, to result in breakopen before the onset of a second-degree skin burn injury.
Those requiring AR clothing that will also comply with FR clothing standards including NFPA 2112 and CAN/CGSB 155.20, when examining fabrics and clothing for desirable arc ratings also ensure these will also comply with the FR standards and their “tougher” flame resistance and garment certification requirements.
To ensure you have the actual requirements of this AR clothing PPE standard we recommend downloading the latest edition @ www.astm.org/Standards/F1506.htm
ASTM F1506 – 20a: Standard Performance Specification for Flame Resistant and Electric Arc Rated Protective Clothing Worn by Workers Exposed to Flames and Electric Arcs
- To protect workers in electrical workplaces from experiencing severe thermal burns.
- Initiated in response to what was originally believed to be injuries resulting from an electrical burn, but instead found to be thermal burns resulting from electric arc flash. It was then recognized that flammable clothing typically worn often contributed more to burn severity than the electric arc flash would have. Now it’s understood arc rated (AR) flame resistant (FR) clothing must not contribute to burn severity, but instead provide thermal protection in an electric arc flash. (Note this standard to be similar to the initiation of the FR clothing PPE standards CAN/CGSB-155.20 and NFPA 2112.)
- Helps ensure compliance with USA’s OSHA 1910.269 regulatory requirements, as well as those for an increasing number of international jurisdictions.
- ASTM F1506 is the personal protective equipment (PPE) standard specified for arc rated (AR) clothing* by workplace electrical safety standards including:
- CAN/ULC S801Standard on Electric Utility Workplace Electrical Safety for Generation, Transmission and Distribution: www.scc.ca/en/standardsdb/standards/25740
*ASTM F1506 does not address arc rated rainwear. AR rainwear/raingear is specified by the ASTM F1891 AR/FR rainwear PPE standard. https://www.astm.org/Standards/F1891.htm
AR/FR Clothing Incorrectly Labelled NFPA 70E, CSA Z462, etc., Compliant:
- Does not have the required ASTM F1506 PPE AR clothing labeling. This labelling must include “meets requirements of Performance Specification ASTM F1506”, arc rating identified as either an ATPV or Ebt, and basic PPE clothing labelling requirements including garment manufacturer’s name, fabric identifier, garment tracking & identification code, style and size. Note: The electrical workplace safety standards do not include clothing labelling specifications.
- Does not meet or exceed the garment fabric’s flame resistance requirements. The result is this clothing could lose its flame-resistant properties and become flammable after a few, or even a single laundering, resulting in a potentially hazardous garment.
- Provides arc ratings for different fabric than that used in the garment.
While possibly being compliant with some international electrical standards, are not compliant with ASTM F1506. This can include IEC 61482’s ASTM F1959 arc ratings, that are different than ASTM F1506’s ASTM F1959/F1959M arc ratings.
ASTM F1506 -20a AR/FR Clothing Requirements Include Garment Design:
- Metal fasteners or closures, i.e. snaps, buttons, zippers, to have a layer of AR/FR protective fabric between them and the inside of the garment aiding thermal insulation.
- PPE clothing manufacturers are to follow and update a documented quality management system with a minimum annual audit that includes a product recall system.
- Heraldry -Exterior logos, crests, name tags, and flag patches (if not FR), are recommended a maximum individual size of 16 inches2 and maximum total area of 40 inches2.
- In response to COVID-19 and limiting community spread of biological hazards, a special category has been added for FR Cloth Face Coverings (FRCFC). Special labelling requirements are provided due to their size. As well as a caution that these do not provide any level of arc flash protection to the head, face, and neck and instead that is specified by the PPE standard ASTM F2178.
Garment Component Tests Include:
- Thread used in garment construction must be inherently flame resistant (FR), and not melt.
- All slide fastener tape (The material the “zipper” teeth are attached to that is then attached to the garment) must be inherently FR.
- Hardware, if visible on the outside of the garment, must be tested for heat resistance and “shall remain sufficiently functional to allow the garment to be removed”.
- Visibility enhancements must be flame resistant. High visibility striping/trim must be tested for flame resistance, and either certified to NFPA 2112, or tested at least once every six months. (Note, early editions of ASTM F1506 did not include this requirement.)
- Non-FR Fabric tests include strength, tearing, shrinkage and fading tests. Note, some FR clothing PPE standards omit these. Due to AR/FR clothing PPE manufacturer’s warranties believed to better address these garment durability concerns than these tests would.
- Fabric flammability and flame resistance (FR) test requirements* include testing most fabrics before and after a minimum of 25 launderings and/or dry-cleanings – dependent on garment labeling. The test procedure also allows for a maximum after-flame time of 2 seconds, char length of 152 mm (6 inches), and no melting or dripping. However, some non-woven fabrics can be tested “as received”, and no launderings or only 5.
- Clothing arc ratings are not determined by testing the garment, but instead by testing specimen samples of the FR protective fabric mounted in panels, and not by using a manikin. One layer of FR fabric is ASTM F1959/F1959M arc rating tested for single layer garments (i.e., shirts, pants, summer coveralls). Multilayer FR fabrics/materials are ASTM F1959/F1959M tested together in the order multilayer (i.e. lined jackets, insulated parkas) are manufactured. This is the same testing procedure specified by NFPA 70E and CSA Z462 for clothing system arc ratings. ASTM F1959/F1959M testing demonstrates that changing the order of the layering materials can significantly impact the clothing system arc rating.
- ASTM F1959/F1959M is a design test, and unlike other testing requirements is only required to be done on the original FR fabric, and when changes are made to that FR fabric.
- Clothing arc ratings are a measurement describing FR fabric/material performance after being exposed to an electric arc, and the predicted (with 50% predictability) thermal protection provided from that exposure. Arc ratings depending on which occurs first, are to be expressed, identified as either an:
- Arc thermal performance value (ATPV), when the incident energy on a material is predicted to result in sufficient heat transfer to result in the onset of a second-degree skin burn injury, or
- Breakopen threshold energy (EBT), the incident energy on a material that results in breakopen before the predicted onset of a second-degree skin burn injury.
*For comparison, fabric flammability and flame resistance (FR) test requirements for the flash/short duration fire CAN/CGSB-155.20 and NFPA 2112 PPE clothing standards require all protective fabric(s) be tested for flame resistance both before, and after multiple launderings or dry cleanings, and allowed only a maximum 100 mm (4 inch) char length. To further help ensure non-flammable FR PPE clothing NFPA 2112 requires protective fabrics be tested both before and after 100 “industrial” launderings or dry cleanings.
To ensure you see the actual requirements of the following AR clothing PPE standard we recommend downloading the latest edition: www.astm.org/Standards/F1506.htm.
CSA Z462 Workplace Electrical Safety Standard, 2021 Edition
- “This Standard is based on NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety for the Workplace, and has been harmonized with Parts I, II, and III of the Canadian Electrical Code; CSA Z460, Control of hazardous energy — Lockout and other methods; and CSA M421, Use of electricity in mines. This revised edition of CSA Z462 has been developed by CSA Group from the original edition as promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association. In addition to its initial source, it includes significant revisions by CSA Group.” CSA Group www.csagroup.org/store/product/Z462-15/
- “CSA Z462 includes additional annexes that were not adopted into NFPA 70E. In the 2021 edition of CSA Z462, additional changes were included of a technical nature, related to the arc flash PPE category method, that will not be published in NFPA 70E.” Len Cicero www.arcflash.ca
- Adopted by companies across industry sectors where it applies to their facilities, but not to their specific industries (i.e., railway, electrical utilities, marine and telecommunications) as indicated in CSA Z462, Scope Clause 1.2 Application.
- “Offers direction on integrating electrical safety programs into OHS management systems, helping to comply with due diligence requirements.” Energy Safety Canada: Flame Resistant Workwear (FRW) A Program Development Guideline www.energysafetycanada.com
- As an electrical safety standard, it is developed for, and focused on helping end users with risk analysis, electrocution and arc incident prevention, and safe work practices, but it also goes further and specifies what standards personal protective equipment (PPE) must comply with. For clothing arc flash Section 188.8.131.52.14, Table 5, specifies:
- Apparel – Arc-rated: ASTM F1506
- Raingear – Arc-rated: ASTM F1891
- Arc-rated (AR) PPE can be selected one of two ways (see section 184.108.40.206.1):
- The incident energy analysis method. This might result in PPE requiring various minimum arc ratings i.e., 4 cal/cm2, 10 cal/cm2, 12 cal/ cal/cm2 or different.
- The arc flash PPE category method.
- The arc flash PPE category method minimum required PPE arc ratings are:
- PPE Cat. 1: 4 cal/cm2, PPE Cat. 2: 8 cal/cm2,
- PPE Cat. 3: 25 cal/cm2, PPE Cat. 4: cal/cm2,
- PPE Cat. 5: 75 cal/cm2, (Note: NFPA 70E does not include PPE Cat. 5)
- Annex H (informative) includes guidance with a simplified two category arc flash clothing system:
- Minimum 8 cal/cm2 arc rating for both PPE Cat 1 & PPE Cat 2
- Minimum 40 cal/cm2 arc rating for both PPE Cat 3 & PPE Cat 4
- CSA Z462 also includes additional information including:
- Specifying how ASTM F1506’s and ASTM F1891’s ASTM F1959 arc rating test is to be done for clothing system arc ratings -some call total system arc ratings (TSAR).
- How AR apparel and AR raingear is to be worn and maintained.
These are only a few very general points, and we strongly recommend consulting the latest edition of CSA Z462 available at www.csagroup.org/store/