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June 6, 2016

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Flash fire and electric arc safety

im Hanna, Williamson-Dickie explains  the current relevant standards and how the workforce can and should be protected against serious injury and the consequences of wearing unsuitable workwear and PPE. 

Over the years I have attended a lot of seminars and presentations on the subject matter of either flame retardancy or electric arc protection. The two topics are heavily related yet both very different in terms of how we should approach PPE.

Many of the presentations have understandably had a slight ‘commercial bias’ in one way or another towards a particular product, material or supplier. That’s not a bad thing as it helps to get information out into the public domain, getting the topic debated and considered perhaps a little more than previously. It also helps to get organisations thinking about what they currently provide and if there is perhaps a better solution or an alternative way of working.

With Electric Arc I have witnessed some truly excellent presentations that have focused in depth on the electrical side of things and currents, distances and calculations required to ensure the correct level of protection is provided for the worker carrying out their everyday tasks in safety. All very important and critical stuff but rather than repeat a lot of what has gone before I would like to focus a little more on the actual standards themselves, some of the areas of confusion, where they overlap, what the differences are between the various standards but hopefully in a straightforward, uncomplicated and non-jargonistic way.

Looking at the ways of ensuring suitable protection to the wearer by understanding the myriad of different protective fabrics and how they can best be selected and utilised. Consideration of what they offer in terms of protection will hopefully allay some fears and ease some doubts. I will be explaining how these products perform and what the differences between them are. Fortunately there are a lot of excellent flame and arc-resistant fabrics in the global marketplace, all of them offering different features and benefits giving the end user a great deal of choice but also a headache when it comes to selection.

Conformance to the relevant EN ISO Standards is just the basic requirement. Underneath those standards like the proverbial Iceberg, there is a huge amount of other considerations according to individual circumstances and conditions of working.

Testing of fabrics and garments to ensure conformance to the standards is only a part of the story. Meeting those standards is not enough to ensure workers return home safe in the event of an incident. Each individual incident is slightly different, the causation and the extent of injuries suffered vary from case to case.

I will impart extra information, knowledge and understanding of how FR and Arc PPE works and how additional worker considerations could make massive differences to survivability with a corresponding significant reduction to the potential injuries and pain suffered.

The objective is not to beat a corporate drum and push Brand ‘A’ fabrics or garments over Brand ‘X’s’ fabrics or garments and most definitely not to demean certain products or subliminally promote products. My intention is to provide information that will potentially make a significant difference to someone’s life and their quality of life should the worst occur at work.

I will be considering things like examining the metabolic rates of individual workers, their age and even their gender and how we can best protect them. The session will take into consideration all of these human issues and how by greater understanding we can provide greater comfort, safety and protection for our workforce in conjunction with EN ISO Standards.

Jim will be speaking within the Professional Clothing Show at Safety & Health Expo on 21 June at London’s ExCeL. Register now for your ticket.

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