More and more, the demand for flame resistant (FR) clothing that is “Dual Hazard” is increasing. Many in the safety arena are finding that their workers face more than one hazard throughout the day, and more and more FR fabric manufacturers are developing fabrics that can protect against multiple hazards.
What Does Dual Hazard Mean?
The term “Dual Hazard” basically means that the clothing and fabric can protect against both “Flash Fire” and “Electric Arc Flash.” The ability for fabrics to protect against both these hazards has been around for years but they were typically promoted into one hazard or the other depending on where they performed the best. Once the protection level against both hazards improved, manufacturers started using the phrase “Dual Hazard” to differentiate themselves.
Examples of Dual Hazard Products
With the introduction of the newer Modacrylic blends like Protera and Tecasafe Plus, their protection ratings for both “Flash fire” and “Electric Arc Flash” made them suitable for both hazards. With arc ratings over 8 cal/cm² they now fell into the critical NFPA 70E HRC 2 level, while also meeting the “Flash Fire” requirements of NFPA 2112. Improvement and promotion of other blends and even knits also fell into this newly marketed category or “Dual Hazard.”
Why is “Dual Hazard” Important?
As mentioned previously, safety professionals realized that many workers could encounter more than one hazard during the day, and many workers are being asked to perform multiple functions. This can be particularly true when you look at industries like oil and gas drilling/servicing. There are many smaller contractors doing work on-site and could have a need to protect against both hazards. It also helps to simplify the Safety Managers and Procurement Managers job by only needing to buy one type of clothing or fabric for everyone.
The availability of “Dual Hazard” clothing can be both cost effective and practical. There are still situations where different clothing, for different jobs, makes sense. When there is low or no probability of worker exposure to an arc flash in areas that are very hot and humid, a lighter weight fabric suitable for flash fire protection, with only an HRC 1 rating, may be the ticket. Even with the availability of “Dual Hazard” clothing, there can be tradeoffs between, cost, comfort, style, and the actual level of protection for a given hazard. Do your homework – look at the options, perform a wear trial, and then make the decision that’s right for your worker and specific working environment.