The best reason to invest in an FR program: it saves lives. For those working in industries that put them at risk of their clothes igniting, FR is a critical component in protection.
The most serious burns in an industrial setting aren’t caused by the actual fire or explosion itself, but by regular workwear (e.g., non-FR cotton, nylon or polyester) igniting and continuing to burn even after the heat source has been removed. The key to FR clothing is that it self-extinguishes. This dramatically reduces the severity of burn injuries and provides the worker valuable escape time to increase the chances of survival.
FR clothing costs more initially than everyday work clothing, but FR clothing should be seen as an investment, not an expense. Some FR fabrics last considerably longer than standard work clothing, helping to offset a higher purchase price with longer wear lives. Workrite utilizes special construction techniques to maximize garment durability, resulting in garments that last longer and need to be replaced less often.
And the cost of a serious burn injury can be significant. Add up your direct costs (medical, prolonged recovery and rehabilitation time, disability, job retraining) with the indirect costs (workers’ compensation, lost work time, increased insurance premiums), and often times the cost of a single burn injury exceeds the cost of an entire FR program.
FR clothing’s primary function is to protect the worker in the event of an accidental exposure, but it can also protect the company as a whole. State and federal OSHA organizations require employers to protect employees from hazards in the workplace. In fact, OSHA has cited and fined numerous companies for not providing FR clothing under section 1910.132, “Occupational Safety and Health Standards: Personal Protective Equipment,” and is likely to add more stringent requirements for FR clothing in future OSHA regulations, including revisions of existing laws.
In addition to these existing laws, numerous industry consensus standards address the need for FR clothing in a variety of industries and environments. Such standards are published by well-respected national organizations, ASTM International and National Fire Protection Associations (NFPA). OSHA bases future laws in part based on published standards, so what is voluntary today may become law tomorrow.