Protection from Molten Metal and Welding Exposures
For over 40 years, heavyweight flame resistant cotton fabrics have been utilized by the steel industry for secondary protective clothing for workers doing routine tasks in steel processing. Secondary protective clothing is defined as “protective clothing for continuous wear during work activities in designated locations in which intermittent exposure to molten substance splash, radiant heat and flame sources are possible.”
The essence of protection in this category rests in two critical factors:
- The fabric must be flame resistant so that it will not ignite and continue to burn when the heat source is removed.
- In the specific instance of exposure to molten ferrous metal, the fabric must demonstrate the ability to shed molten metal from its surface without sticking.
Westex® UltraSoft AC®, UltraSoft® and Indura® fabrics have the unique ability to shed molten ferrous metals. While some charring may occur, the flame resistant properties of Westex fabrics will preclude ignition and continued combustion. Non-flame resistant cotton may shed ferrous metals and welding, however the potential for ignition and continued combustion is very high, thus increasing the injury potential.
When evaluating fabrics for molten metal applications, it is imperative that fabrics be evaluated on site in the form of testing and wear trials. Because different work sites handle different alloys, a trial with the specific metal must be made.
Additionally, it should be recognized that worker protection from second degree burn in ferrous metal processing is highly dependent on the quantity of metal exposed to and the number of layers and weight of fabric worn; therefore different fabric weights should be evaluated. A minimum weight of 9 oz/yd2 (305 g/m2) fabrics is typically recommended for light welding/cutting operations and 12 oz/yd2 (407 g/m2) or heavier fabrics for most other foundry and molten metal applications. In general, heavier weights will provide better insulation from heat transfer but the end-user must determine the most appropriate weight for their application.
Please note that UltraSoft®, UltraSoft AC® and Indura® fabrics are not intended for use near molten aluminum.
Westex Vinex® fabrics are specifically engineered for use near molten aluminum.