This is the third post in a series of five posts comparing and contrasting task-based and daily wear approaches to arc-rated (AR) clothing programs. Check out our first post here, and our post exploring liability issues here. Next, we take a closer look at issues with monitoring and productivity, and key takeaways.
As we have seen, there are two approaches to protecting workers with arc-rated flame resistant (AR) clothing: task-based and daily wear systems. Though both approaches can be used to achieve safety and compliance, the majority of companies currently in compliance with NFPA 70E choose not to rely on task-based systems. This is because, despite what can be a lower initial cost, task-based programs introduce significant risk and long-term cost.
One area where this can be seen is with layering. In fact, there are two distinct challenges with layering in task-based systems:
Clothing worn under the AR outer layer can be unsafe if it is meltable. Standards require non-AR garments to be made of all natural, non-meltable fibers (at minimum); this is much more difficult to mandate and monitor when workers are wearing “street clothing” in a task-based program.
In fact, many companies have fled task-based programs over this issue, and the uncomfortable, unwieldy job of being “underwear police.”
Heat stress is a growing concern, with OSHA and NIOSH heavily promoting the most current information available on the topic. OSHA tells us a number of key things about what does and does not cause heat stress, several of which bear directly on task-based vs daily wear decisions:
- Single layer, breathable clothing does not cause heat stress, whether it is FR or not, and whether it is long sleeve or short sleeve. These are not significant factors in causing heat stress.
- Primary causes of heat stress are poor hydration, lack of rest, lack of shade, some medicines, and poor health.
- Clothing is a significant contributor to heat stress if it is non-breathable (rainwear, tyvek, etc) or multiple layer. Other clothing-related concerns are tight fit, dark colors, and synthetic fibers. The NIOSH/OSHA recommendation for clothing says “Wear loose-fitting, light colored clothing. When possible, wear cotton and avoid synthetics.” This becomes relevant to task-based AR programs in that they are, by definition, multiple layer garment systems, which begins to raise heat stress concerns that single-layer garments do not.
- An electrician in a daily wear program will have a single layer (shirt and pant) in normal weights and colors, and possibly even natural fibers.
- However, a task-based program will have an electrician wearing “street clothes” of normal weight, and then require him/her to don a coverall (typically at least 7oz) over top, creating both a double-layer system and 150-200% the total clothing weight on the torso compared to daily wear. In this case, both the multiple-layer and the higher weight will contribute to heat stress.
The bottom line: a second layer of clothing under the AR clothing has much more potential to cause heat stress than a single layer of AR.
Follow along with our series as we compare and contrast other dimensions of task-based and daily wear approaches to AR clothing. In our next post, we’ll explore challenges with monitoring and productivity.
Want to explore a managed program for AR daily wear? Contact us at MarketingInfo@TyndaleUSA.com or reach out to our National Account Executive serving your area. Click here to learn more about the daily wear options available today and the power of choice in keeping workers comfortable, safe, and compliant.