We often get questions on best practices regarding useful wear life of FR clothing and when to retire used or older garments. To ensure that flame resistant clothing maintains protective properties, workers should retire their flame resistant clothing if one or more of the following wear indicators appear on a garment:
- Frayed collar (image left below)
- Frayed cuffs (center image below)
- Torn, open or frayed seams (image right below)
- Thread-bare areas (thread-bare is defined as “having the nap worn down so that the filling or warp threads show through; frayed or shabby.”) – image left above
- Unrepaired hole 1” in any dimension (center image above)
- Oil/stain that cannot be laundered out (image right above)
If exposed to flame or electric arc, flammable soil could ignite and continue to burn – even though the garment itself won’t burn.
It is important to note that when it comes to arc flash protection, normal wear and tear of the garment doesn’t necessarily result in a lower arc rating. For example, Mount Vernon Mills tested their 7 oz 88% cotton/12% Nylon Twill fabric after 3 industrial launderings, and again after 100 industrial launderings, and the resulting arc rating remained the same. Natural shrinkage of the cotton makes the fabric denser, offsetting any loss of cotton fiber.
Repairs of flame, thermal, and arc resistant clothing should be made from components equivalent to those used in the original manufacturing to avoid reducing the performance properties of the flame resistant garment. Garments that have irreparable damage, are worn out, or are unusable for other safety reasons, are not to be reused and should be discarded.
Tyndale warrants flame resistant clothing for the useful life of the garment, and all Tyndale-branded items are guaranteed to retain their flame resistant properties for the useful life of the garment.
Best Practices and New Industry Requirements
Any garment that exhibits one or more of the wear indicators outlined above should be immediately retired from service. By following these clothing retirement guidelines, you will minimize the possibility of injury as a result of arc flash. Along with that, recognizing when your FRC needs to be repaired or replaced is important for your safety on the job.
OSHA’s update to the 1910.269 standard now implements an industry-wide requirement to perform regular checks of PPE where previously this was simply treated as a best practice. Workers should perform a brief inspection of their FRC each time before use to ensure that none of the outlined retirement conditions has occurred. Click here for more information on employers’ responsibility to ensure proper care and maintenance of PPE. Keep in mind that supervisors, safety personnel and other management retain the right to require that a garment be retired if they believe that it does not meet reasonable safety or image requirements.
This information is intended as best practice; your company’s specific safety guidelines supersede information shared in this post.
Request your copy of our Sample FR Clothing Retirement Policy:
This Sample FR Clothing Retirement Policy is presented for the convenience of our customers. Information and standards included in this Policy should not be used as a substitute for reviewing OSHA regulations and recognized safety standards or be used to take the place of safety training or hazard analysis. The Company agrees that it is its responsibility to determine if the Policy is appropriate for its business, that the flame resistant clothing selected is appropriate for the intended use and provides the protection level needed to safely perform a job and that the Policy appropriately addresses the hazards present for the Company’s employees and contractors. Tyndale assumes that the Company will not post this Policy without the review of the Company’s attorneys and safety personnel. If Company posts this Policy, by doing so it agrees that Tyndale is not liable for any damages, losses, liabilities or expenses relating to the hazards the Policy is meant to protect except for liabilities expressly assumed by Tyndale in any written agreement executed between Tyndale and Company.