What Are OSHA’s Requirements for Flame-Resistant Clothing?
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration maintains a set of standards that govern the use of flame-resistant clothing in American workplaces. Though not always cheap, flame-resistant clothing is crucial safety equipment for offshore workers. Offshore workers face workplace risks every day, and their clothes could be a life-saving factor when accidents occur.
Flame-Resistant Clothing & Flash Fire Hazards
Offshore flash fires occur when gas vapors rapidly ignite. These fires burn incredibly hot with temperatures reaching up to 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers for OSHA have found that flash fires cause 16 percent of all deaths in the oil industry. The National Fire Protection Association developed a standard for fire-resistant clothing intended to help prevent injury and death.
OSHA requires some workplaces to provide clothing resistant to flash fires because it protects wearers if a fire should suddenly ignite. Though flame-resistant clothing may not always completely prevent injury, workers wearing it can usually retain the same quality of life after they recover. Burn injuries are severe, but flame-resistant clothing is capable of drastically reducing their severity.
The NFPA 2112 Standard
The NFPA 2112 was created in 2000 to create a safety standard for American industrial clothing. It provides strict guidelines regarding a fabric’s ability to resist fire. No specific type of material must be used to create fire-resistant clothing. Instead, clothing materials must be able to protect against at least 50 percent of predicted body burns during testing.
Not all NFPA 2112 clothing is equal. Even though clothing may be tested to prevent the required amount of burning, some NFPA 2112 clothing will test well below the 50 percent standard while others will test just under the threshold. It’s essential for employees and employers to research their gear and determine if it protects them as much as needed.
Who Is Required to Provide Fire-Resistant Clothing?
Employers are required to provide fire-resistant clothing to any employee who works with material that is volatile and prone to explosion. On a rig, situations that require flame-resistant clothing include systems maintenance, drillings, and any other case where individuals are working closely with drilling fluids. However, workers frequently prefer to wear their own clothing. In these instances, employers have a responsibility to ensure that employees are aware of fire-resistant clothing requirements. Additionally, fire hazards associated with working on an offshore rig must be made clear and evident to employees. If an employer fails to provide adequate clothing or does not make hazards obvious to employees, they can be fined by OSHA and held responsible for any injuries or deaths that occur during a fire.
If you have been burned or injured while working offshore, call our offshore injury attorneys today at (888) 346-5024 for a free consultation.