Electrical contractor putting on an FR jacket on the way to work.


what to look for in fr/ar apparel: balancing comfort, value, versatility, and protection

What to Look For in FR/AR Apparel: Balancing Comfort, Value, Versatility, and Protection

25 Apr 2024

Ensured safety is paramount in industries where workers face hazardous environments, such as the oil and gas and electric industries. Flame-resistant (FR), arc-rated (AR) apparel is critical when there’s a risk of electric arc flash, a gas/vapor/combustible dust fueled flash fire, or molten metal splash exposure.

It’s no secret that everyday clothing poses a risk in these types of environments – it could easily ignite, burn and possibly melt (polycotton) onto a wearer’s skin! This is why it’s important to provide flame-resistant workwear and encourage its proper use to the hardworking men and women tackling these jobs. However, selecting the right FR/AR personal protection equipment (PPE) is about finding the delicate balance between comfort, value, versatility, and—of course—protection.

Prioritizing Protection in PPE Selection

Choosing the right FR/AR fabric in the best PPE for your program requires knowing the dangers your workers face — plus the industry consensus standards established for the exposure.

Before selecting which garment is right for your program, review the relevant standard requirements and align them with your industry risks to ensure optimal protection for daily wear.

The Importance of Comfort in PPE

Not all FR/AR fabrics are made equally. Quality and reliability may vary depending on fiber blend and construction; comfort is inherently subjective to the wearer. One of the most common reasons people choose not to wear their PPE is that they deem it uncomfortable.

Comfort plays a significant role in wearer compliance and productivity. Uncomfortable garments can lead to poor focus and performance on the job. When choosing the best PPE in FR/AR apparel, prioritize breathability, moisture-wicking properties, and a comfortable fit. Garments that allow for freedom of movement and flexibility enhance comfort, contributing to overall satisfaction and safety in the workplace.

Capitalizing on PPE Value and Versatility

While upfront cost is a consideration, looking beyond price when evaluating FR/AR workwear is essential. Fabric longevity and durability are vital to a garment’s lifespan. Investing in the best PPE through high-quality garments can result in long-term savings by reducing the need for frequent replacements.

Value-added features such as ease of maintenance and resistance to wear and tear can further enhance PPE lifespans. By using comfortable materials designed to last longer, it’s easier to reduce the need for brand new FR/AR clothing and lower the amount of waste sent to landfills, a win-win scenario for companies and the environment. In fact, the FR/AR clothing available today is almost indistinguishable from regular street clothing from both a comfort and cost standpoint over time.

FR/AR apparel needs to be versatile to meet workers’ practical needs. Layering workwear options and compatibility with other PPE enhance versatility, allowing workers to customize their protection based on the specific risks they face.

Westex Fabrics Balance Comfort, Value, Versatility, and Protection

By prioritizing safety, comfort, value, and versatility and staying informed about industry standards and innovations, you can ensure the safety of your workforce and enhance overall efficiency and well-being.

At Westex®: A Milliken Brand, we offer an extensive portfolio of FR/AR fabrics that include various types of fibers, yarns and FR technologies. Westex® DH Air™ combines all the amazing characteristics you’re looking for into a lightweight, Cat 2 fabric. Westex® DH Air™ is an excellent choice for arc flash and flash fire protection, providing top tier breathability and moisture management, while maintaining color consistency.

Explore Westex’s complete fabric offering and determine which materials meet your PPE standard requirements best.

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