Trends in ... protective clothing
‘Driven toward comfort, performance and style’
In today’s world, “you might see a person wearing his or her FR uniform off the jobsite and not even realize they’re wearing FR workwear,” says Michael Batson, director of product development for True North Gear. This is because “both garment function and fashion are being elevated at the same time.”
What other innovations are workers seeing in arc-rated and flame-resistant gear?
“AR/FR base layers are now available at or below the weight of non-FR T-shirts,” says Scott Margolin, vice president of corporate strategy and technical for Tyndale. “Although AR/FR base layers have always been a best practice, the comfort of the new lightweight fabric makes wearing one an obvious choice to provide crucial arc flash/flash fire protection if an exposure exceeds the outer layer’s AR/FR protection.”
Batson echoed that sentiment: “Fabric and garment developments continue to be driven toward comfort, performance and style. Thanks to new developments in FR fiber, yarn and knitting/weaving constructions, FR garments are far more comfortable than they were just a few years ago.”
However, as a result of the new developments in these garments, “not all employers are educating their workers on the proper care and maintenance” of them, notes Ashley Gann, merchandising manager, workwear, for Wrangler. “Many garments have special care and repair/maintenance instructions that should be followed to ensure both the durability/longevity of the garment and that there are no negative impacts to the garments’ protective properties.”
Melissa Egersdorfer and Simon Levin, sales executives for True North Gear, seconded that: “At times overlooked is the fundamental importance of the right protective clothing paired with proper education around the difference it can make to the wearer daily when worn and cared for correctly.”
Margolin offered this advice: “Employers and workers should understand that it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated to launder AR/FR clothing. Companies often go to great lengths to provide industrial laundry services for their employees’ AR/FR clothing. However, 50% of wearers don’t utilize laundry services when provided, creating a false sense of security around garment care, maintenance and inspection. But there is good news: Today’s AR/FR fabrics have only a few simple home washing instructions. Qualified suppliers can provide straightforward resources that make home laundering easy for workers and inspection easy for employers.”
At the end of the day, “when protective apparel does not perform well, it can negatively impact worker adoption and compliance, putting employees at risk,” Egersdorfer and Levin said.
Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association
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