Dirty Laundry: Tips for Maintaining and Taking Care of Flame-Resistant Clothing

Arc blast and arc flash are among electrical workers’ most dangerous hazards. The intense heat generated by electrical arcs can momentarily surpass the sun’s temperature, and the resulting explosion can cause significant harm, such as emitting hot gases and molten debris. The extent of injuries, ranging from mild to severe, heavily depends on the protective clothing worn by the individual during the occurrence.


Proper Usage

Workers must utilize and maintain adequate flame-resistant (FR) attire. According to OSHA CFR 1910.269(l)(6), workers must be educated on the risks associated with electric arcs and the fires they can initiate. OSHA forbids workers from donning clothing that could exacerbate injuries in the presence of an arc, such as catching fire, persisting to burn, or melting onto the skin. Therefore, employees cannot wear clothing composed solely of or mixed with synthetic materials, including acetate, nylon, polyester, or rayon.

As per the OSHA eTool “Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – FR Clothing,” suitable FR clothing should be chosen carefully. Clothing that is made entirely of cotton or wool can be appropriate if its weight corresponds to the flame and electric arc conditions the worker might encounter. Although these materials do not liquefy under high heat levels, they can ignite and keep burning. The degree of heat required to initiate combustion in these materials depends on multiple factors such as the fabric’s weight, texture, weave, and color.

It is the responsibility of the employers to make sure that the clothing worn by the workers is suitable and appropriate for the conditions that they might encounter.


Cleaning FR Garments

Flame-resistant (FR) clothing is crucial for preventing severe injuries, but it must be maintained correctly to ensure that it provides adequate protection to the workers. Workers should be acquainted with the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning procedures.

If an industrial laundry service is used, washing all FR garments separately in soft water with a mineral content of fewer than 4.0 grains is essential. Hard water contains mineral salts that can harm the clothing’s integrity.

When it comes to cleaning solutions, nonionic formulas are typically the most effective for this type of clothing. Natural soaps and chlorine bleach should never be used. In cases where the clothing is heavily soiled with particles or abrasive dirt, it can be rinsed with water at a temperature of 105°F at the beginning of the cycle. This can help minimize abrasion in the wash wheel.

When drying FR clothing, it is vital to ensure that the dryer temperature does not exceed 280°F. Starch should not be used, and fabric softeners must be avoided as they can accumulate between fibers and become flammable. Garments that require pressing should be ironed at temperatures below 280°F.

In case a worker opts to clean their FR clothing at home, they should turn the garments inside out and wash each item separately using a regular or cotton cycle with water temperatures up to 140°F. Most home laundry detergents are acceptable for use, but avoid tallow soaps containing animal fats that can be flammable and accumulate between fibers. Using conditioned or soft water can aid in removing contaminants from FR clothing.

When the garments are heavily soiled, it is crucial to remove all dirt and other contaminants. Using stain-removal products or presoaking the garments is acceptable.

If the garments can’t be completely cleaned at home, they can be sent to the dry cleaner. Employers and employees must also follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dry cleaning. If FR clothing gets contaminated with flammable substances, it must be immediately removed and replaced with uncontaminated FR apparel. If the flammable material can’t be removed, the garments should be disposed of.


Repair and Maintenance

Lastly, two standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials International address the upkeep and repair of FR garments. These standards are Standard F 1449: “Guide for Industrial Laundering of Flame, Thermal, and Arc Resistant Clothing” and Standard F 2757: “Guide for Home Laundering Care and Maintenance of Flame, Thermal and Arc Resistant Clothing.” They offer guidelines for the proper care and maintenance of FR garments at home and in industrial laundering. It’s important for employers and employees to be familiar with these standards. The standards state that any repairs made to FR clothing should use materials that are equivalent to the original clothing materials.

If you would like more information on the importance of FR clothing and how to properly clean, care and maintain it, visit www.osha.gov.

Been burned in the past by a crooked Contractor? You may be eligible for up to $15,000 from the home improvement Guaranty Fund. Know your rights!

Home Improvement Guarantee Fund

The Department of Consumer Protection maintains the Home Improvement Guaranty Fund. This pool of money was created and is replenished from annual assessments of registered contractors, and can be used to help satisfy an unpaid judgment to a homeowner. A homeowner may be eligible for up to $15,000 from the Fund if he or she had hired a registered home improvement contractor and the resulting problem meets certain criteria.
Phone: (860) 713-6110
Link to more info on CT Home Improvement Guarantee Fund

More info from the CT Department of consumer protection website.

Tips for Protecting Yourself

The Department of Consumer Protection can not resolve every consumer dispute. We rely on you – the consumer – to help us in our mission. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Do Your Homework:  Before making a significant purchase or hiring a contractor.
  • Research the business you will be dealing with. Ask for references and then contact them. If you are hiring a home improvement or new home construction contractor, visit other job sites they have worked on, if possible.
  • Check that your contractor or licensed professional has an active license or registration. Don’t take their word for it. Even if they give you their license or registration number, you should make sure it is active.
  • Read your contract before you sign and know your rights. Check out our Consumer Fact Sheet: About Consumer Contracts in Connecticut for things to watch out for in everyday consumer contracts. Our Consumer and Publication pages have additional resources to help you protect yourself.
  • Try To Resolve Your Dispute Yourself:  Most Connecticut businesses are legitimate companies that want to be satisfied, repeat customers. If you have a problem with a business, call or write them a letter – explain the problem, show them the backup documents if you can, and ask for a fair resolution. If you can help yourself, that gives us more time to go after the companies engaged in patterns of fraud or abuse. Read on for tips and resources to help you resolve your dispute.
  • Alert Us To Problems:  Although we cannot solve every problem, we do want to hear about them. From your information, we learn when a business has a pattern of acting badly or a new scam is moving into the State. Where we see a pattern of bad conduct, the law provides us with tools to go after the business, or we can alert the public to protect others from being victimized. Click here to see if your complaint is one we have authority to deal with and, if appropriate, to file a complaint.