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Correct Protective Clothing For Utility Contractors
Protective clothing worn in the Utility Sector has traditionally been no other than ‘ordinary’ for many contractors unaware of the real risks they potentially face in their day-to-day workplace.
But this is not the case for all – leading Blue Chip organisations and safety orientated Independent companies have seen the need to ensure their workers are correctly supplied with the right garments. After all, staff are the most important asset to any company and it’s important that they are protected in the best possibly way.
Traditional workwear fabrics are polyester/cotton blends or cotton blends. Whilst 100% cotton workwear does not melt like polyester or other similar man-made fibres often do, it can certainly burn particularly when impregnated with dirt, grease or other grime.
Many companies in the Utility sector have long since recognized the need to provide their staff with Flame Resistant Clothing, which has often been in the form of chemically treated fabrics – often 100% cotton fabrics treated with a chemical to ensure that they do not burn when a flame source is applied to them.
But the question for many companies now has been – is that really enough? How do we know whether the chemical treatment is still in this garment after it has been washed? How can we be sure that the protection offered is still the same as when the garment was new?
With this in mind, many of these organizations are now insisting that their workers wear INHERENT Flame Resistant Clothing. These garments are made using fabrics that contain fibres that are INHERENTLY Flame Resistant and do not lose their FR properties by the washing process. These fabrics are a blend of fibres – one such blend known as ‘VXS+’ in the Flame Resistant, Arc Flash garment market place is a blend of Cotton, and a Modified Acrylic. Other fibres are often also included in these fabrics to give the finished fabric other properties such as antistatic for antistatic garments, viscose for additional softness and nylon for strength.
The result of these fabrics is a garment that can be washed repeatedly for the duration of its life without compromising on the protective properties it was designed to offer. In addition to this, fabrics such as VXS+ offer improved comfort by their soft finish, reduced shrinkage (by the inclusive of other fibres other than cotton) and they are lighter in weight than their chemical treated counterparts.
In addition to a standard Flame Resistant garment, the majority of contractors in the Utility sector have now recognised the need for their garments to also be certified for protection against the hazards of an Electric Arc Flash incident. Reputable garment manufacturers have now upgraded many of their garments to also be certified to this higher level of protection.
It is worth noting that not all manufacturers carry the necessary certification to produce these garments – these Electric Arc Flash garments require a higher level of certification both during production and during the initial certification process. If you are unsure whether your garments are manufactured to the correct standard, there are some useful websites where information can be found such as progarm.eu/ce-certification/. Further information on this certification can be obtained from reputable Notified Bodies such as BTTG or West Yorkshire Materials Testing Services.
Finding a stockist of these garments has often been a challenge to support new starters on new contracts or simply obtaining a workwear solution for your staff that is not bespoke. But there are manufacturers who do carry extensive stocks in order to meet your requirements. ProGARM is one such manufacturer of Flame Resistant, Arc Flash Clothing that has developed a reputation for High Quality garments available from Stock for Next Day Delivery and worn by many of the largest Blue Chip organizations.
‘Standard’ protection yesterday may not be the ‘Standard’ protection required today – there’s no excuse to supply inferior product to your workforce – take responsibility for them and ensure you protect the best.
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