What’s in a Label?
When it comes to FR, the answer is: more than you might think. Even after assessing hazard risks and selecting the appropriate FR clothing, it also falls on the employer to ensure that each garment truly matches the hazard it’s designed to protect against. That’s why it’s especially important to identify proper labeling on the part of the manufacturer as an indicator that the garment is, indeed, fully compliant.
Read on to learn what to look for on your FR labels.
NFPA® and ASTM labeling requirements are strict, but not everyone follows the rules. Fraudulently labeled FR garments can often be identified by their violation of the standards.
According to ASTM F1506 6.3, FR garments must be labeled with the following information:
6.3.1 Meets requirements of Performance Specification F1506
6.3.2 Manufacturer’s Name
6.3.3 Fabric Identifier
6.3.4 Garment Tracking and Identification Code
6.3.5 Size and other associated standard labeling
6.3.6 Care instructions and fiber content
6.3.7 Arc rating (ATPV) or arc rating (Ebt)
188.8.131.52 When garments are made with a different number of fabric layers in different areas of the garment, the arc rating for each area shall be designated. Pockets, trim, closures, seams, labels, and heraldry shall not be considered as extra layers.
That’s a lot of label, but it shows specific compliance, as opposed to labels that are misleading or omit critical information.
NFPA 2112, Chapter 4 provides clear requirements for shirts, pants, coveralls and outerwear. In addition to bearing the mark of the 3rd party certifier, the following words and the edition of the standard must appear on the label of a certified garment:
“This garment meets the requirements of NFPA 2112, Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for the Protection of Industrial Personnel against Flash Fire, 2012 Edition. NFPA 2113 requires upper and lower body coverage.”
Beware of subtle changes in wording on the label that claim to meet a portion of the standard, but do not meet all requirements. For example, the following language does not meet the requirements of NFPA 2112:
“This garment meets the performance requirements of NFPA 70E-2009, ASTM F1506-02ae1, NFPA 2112-2007.”
There’s one more way to be sure your FR gear is fully compliant: Visit the UL website, where you can query to ensure that the garment has, in fact, been certified by UL.
While it may seem nitpicky, these standards for FR labeling are very important. They are designed to protect the FR provider and FR wearer from purchasing and wearing fraudulent FR garments, which do not meet the minimum requirements of FR safety.
Make a habit of reading your labels. Because when it comes to protecting yourself and your crew from the hazards associated with the job, you can never be too careful.