FLAME-RESISTANT (FR) clothing is being worn increasingly and is legislated for across a multitude of industries. But, do people adhere to industry guidelines? A report from Hard Yakka PROTECT reveals alarming statistics about the uses, users and perceptions of FR clothing.

Wearing the correct protective clothing at work is vital, according to work clothing manufacturer Hard Yakka.

A survey of 500 working in fields exposed to arc flash and flash fire reveals that 28% do not wear FR clothing for work with the primary reasons being that it is not provided by their workplace (38%), it is too expensive (16%), too uncomfortable (14%) or too hot (12%). Those who wear FR clothing do so because they believe safety is paramount (75%), it is industry regulation (59%) and required by company policy (48%).

Adding to the rationale behind why people aren’t wearing this protective clothing is the fact that people don’t actually know what fibres are flame-resistant (63%), with cotton (25%) ranking as the most common fibre mistaken as being FR.

This lack of knowledge and understanding is at fault for a wealth of onsite injuries and near-injuries. In fact, 56% of those surveyed admitted to having experienced a near-miss injury due to arc flash or flash fire while 46% were actually injured and required time off work.

The nature of injuries reported is frightening with first degree burns being most prominent (23%), followed by third degree burns (21%) and second degree (16%). Additionally, 10% experienced respiratory system damage as a result of injuries sustained by not wearing FR clothing on the job. Body areas most at risk of injury are hands (35%), arms (34%), legs (23%) and face (20%). Almost half of those injured were required to take more than one week off work to recover and 17% received medical bills in excess of $10,000.

Those who wore FR clothing at point of injury were more likely not to have to take a day off work (19% v 5%) and were also more likely not to seek medical care (21% v 16%). The report reveals those most at risk to arc flash are electrical and energy workers (41%), followed by mining (39%) and manufacturing (35%).

Hard Yakka ShieldTEC FR product manager Brad Shefelbine said, “While the research was conducted to better comprehend industries’ understanding of flame-resistant clothing, it’s alarming to see the significant numbers who don’t sufficiently protect themselves at work.”

“At Hard Yakka, we pride ourselves on providing the toughest protection for trades and industries. Our new ShieldTEC FR range is the most tenacious yet, delivering superior comfort and innovation while ensuring safety in an arc flash or flash fire event.”

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