The Difference Between Inherent and Treated Fabrics, and What it Means for Your Safety Program

The FR industry certainly has its share of jargon, and especially when that jargon has little scientific background, it can lead to muddled and complicated decisions. In our white paper, What’s in a Word: Inherent Fabric, Treated Fabric, and What They Mean in the World of Flame Resistant Fabrics, we discuss two major industry terms—“inherent” and “treated”—and cover how these flame resistant (FR), arc-rated (AR) fabric classifications have evolved over time.

Our white paper explores how the phrases “inherent” and “treated,” which used to describe how FR fabrics were created, have not kept pace with the technological advancements of the industry. Initially, these terms described how FR fabrics were produced, which, in the past, also gave some indication as to the fabrics’ protective longevity. These terms are no longer the clear-cut, defining terms they once were. Today, there is no consensus defining what fiber composition threshold must be met to be considered an inherent fabric; and unlike 30 years ago, treated fabrics—when manufactured by a reputable company—now provide market proven, branded fabrics with guaranteed FR protection for the life of a garment. In fact, “inherent” and “treated” fabrics are not an indication of a garment’s protective characteristics.

Choosing between inherent or treated fabrics is now a matter of preference as opposed to protection features. Today, reputable manufacturers can deliver consistent protection no matter how FR technologies are incorporated into the fabric. When engineered by a credible FR fabric manufacturer, FR characteristics are a permanent part of the fabric and will not wash out or wear off over time when the garment is cared for according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Therefore, selecting appropriate FR/AR fabrics becomes a matter of correctly addressing hazard assessment protection requirements and wearer comfort needs.

When selecting FR/AR fabrics for a workplace safety program, buyers should focus on the industry standards a fabric meets, the level of FR protection it offers, job-specific requirements, and wearer comfort as opposed to relying on marketing jargon that could lead to a misinformed decision. To learn more, download our white paper.

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