Wednesday, May 16, 2018

USEFUL TIPS FROM EXPERTS FOR HANDLING FLAME RETARDANT TEXTILES




HOW TO HANDLE FLAME RETARDANT TEXTILES - By Atif Mallo





Flame retardant textiles are an essential mechanism for protecting us from serious life hazards at industrial jobs arising out of the fire, electric arc or molten metal. But just as any equipment requires its proper application for it to function well, so is the case with flame retardant textiles. That is the reason it is important to be educated about the use of protective equipment against workplace hazards. But when it comes to flame retardant textiles, there are two types of handling you need to consider:

(a) Onsite and

(b) Offsite

Industry experts share many tips for proper handling of flame retardant textiles in both situations for their effective use in the long run.


ONSITE HANDLING OF FR TEXTILES

Let us first look at what are the requirements we need to keep up to in order for our protective apparel to work on site. First and foremost, thing is to know how the FR garments should be used.

There are many general guidelines that can help you to avoid small mistakes that can end up costing big. Wear your FR workwear properly. What this essentially means is all the relevant details should be covered. For instance,

· Do not roll up the sleeves of the FR garment exposing hands and arms to harm.

· Do not leave the zipper or button open exposing skin or undergarments to flame or electric power since this takes away the first layer of defense.

· Do not wear FR garments that are either too tight or too loose leading to problems such as loss of ventilation or loss of warmth.

· Do not wear non-FR or flammable garments over or under the primary FR workwear.

· Use proper accessories such as gloves, helmets, boots etc., where needed as guided by the industry standards.

In this context,detailed industry standards provide guidelines about the use of protective, fire-resistant equipment for different industrial requirements. ASTM F1506-18identifies performance specification for the design characteristics and related test methods pertaining flame resistant and electric arc rated protective textile materials specified for electrical workers exposed to momentary electric arc and related thermal hazards such as exposure to open flame and radiant heat.

ISO 11611:15specifies minimum basic safety requirements and test methods pertaining protective gear including the accessories like hoods, aprons, sleeves, and gaiters, for where the workplace conditions ask for additional protection for head and feet (gaiters only) of the worker.

This is usually required in welding jobs as well as allied processes where comparable risks are present including molten metal spatter, short contact time with flame, radiant heat originating as a result of electric arc used in welding and allied processes.

Moreover, the standard also offers protection requirements for minimizing the chances of electric shock from short-term, accidental contact with live electric equipment like conductors that usually carry voltages up to 100 v.d.c in normal welding applications. Although this standard is not applicable for protection requirements for feet (except for gaiters), hand, face and/or eyes.

ISO 11612:15specifies performance requirements relevant to protective clothing made from flexible materials for a wide range of end uses including the protection of the wearer’s hand and feet with the help of items like gaiters, hoods,andover-boots.

These requirements are applicable in case of both short-termexposuresto flame spreads as well as for exposure to radiant, convective or contact heat or to molten metal splash.

Similarly, IEC 61482-1-2:2014, the European equivalent of ASTM F1506, specifies procedures and performance requirements for garments made from complaint materials against thermal hazards from arc flash.


OFFSITE HANDLING OF FR TEXTILES


The other area that needs attention and caution is how the flameretardant textiles are handled after they have done their day’s job. This includes proper care and maintenance of the FR fabrics leading to the FR garments remaining effective for long.

Here are some of the guidelines you need to follow in this regard.


Washing

· Do not use hard water and temperatures higher than 120 °F for washing FR fabrics as that can cause minerals (salts and magnesium) to build uponthe surface of FR cotton fabrics which renders them flammable. In order to avoid this,use of soft water and the adequatetemperature is recommended.

· Do not fill the washer more than two-thirdsof the full capacity and use a high-water level.

· Be sure to turn the FR garments inside out before washing to avoid damage from abrasion.



· Do not use soap to wash FR fabrics as the natural ingredients in the soaps can react with the minerals in the water causing an insoluble film on the surface of FR fabric which can damage the FR finish. It is recommended to use only detergents to avoid that from happening.

· Do not use fabric softeners, and detergents containing bleach or chlorine bleach and animal fats. All these substances are flammable.

· Do not soak FR garments for long as this can damage the flame-resistant finish of the garments.

· Do not expose FR clothes to temperatures above 280 °F during the drying process.

· Only use eitherperchloroethylene or petroleum solvent for dry cleaning. In any case, make sure to check manufacturer’s instructions as dry cleaning is not suitable all FR fabrics.

· Regularly wash FR fabrics avoiding the accumulation of contaminants on the fabric surface. It is important to properly remove the grease, oils or other flammable materials from the fabric.

· Do not over dry FR fabrics. If needed, they can be ironed using the settingon Permanent Press or Low Press.

Following the above-mentioned,the courseof action will help you launder your FR garments with proper care. In required, you can always turn toASTM F1449-01for guidelines on recommended procedures for laundering flame resistantclothing.



Repairing

At times, FR garments might become a little damaged but careful repair and maintenance can render them good as new. Following recommendations are useful in such a case.

· Always use similar or consistent fabric to the original FR garment fabric should you need to make repairs to it. Remember different fabric types are susceptible to different reactions upon thermal exposure or even laundering.

· Only use inherently FR thread for the purpose of repairing an FR garment.

· Only use FR rated accessories such as buttons, zippers, hooks, drawstrings, knit cuffs, reflective tape etc., when making repairs to FR garments.

In moments of doubt, do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer for further details and guidance. In any case, industry standards are always there to provide detailed guidelines concerning repair or damage to FR garments. ASTM F1449details care and maintenance guidelines for both industrial and home laundering and care.



Discarding

In some case, discarding the FR garment is the only choice. For instance, in cases such as given below.

· Discard FR garments with worn appearance because their FR finish will have been damaged.

· Discard FR garments with thinning fabric, holes or excessive abrasion.

· Discard FR garments that have suffered some mechanical irreparable damage such as cuts, rips, open seams or nonfunctional closures.


· Discard FR garments that have noticeably been modified from the original design for manyreasons such as shrinkage or loosening of fabric.



Sincerely

Atif Mallo
muhammad.atif@alchemative.com

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