Wondering when to replace fire retardant clothing? Like most PPE, it has a lifespan and will need to be replaced when it is no longer suitable for wear.
The safety of your workforce is paramount, but you also have other factors to consider when replacing PPE equipment, not least of which is cost.
To stay on budget and keep control over your department, you must therefore be able to identify when exactly fire retardant clothing needs replacing. This will ensure the safety of your workforce and reduce unnecessary spending.
When to replace fire retardant clothing
1. When the clothing becomes damaged beyond repair
Fire retardant clothing works primarily by creating a barrier between the wearer and the flames. It achieves this through the weight, density, and type of material from which it’s constructed. Clearly anything that can provide fire with an opportunity to penetrate this barrier is a serious problem.
Look out for marks of wear and tear on the fabric. Areas that have worn thin, degraded into holes, or are unnecessarily frayed can provide a route through for the thermal hazard.
Check in particular the areas that are most liable to damage, usually elbows, knees, and any other area where clothes tend to abrade.
2. When repairs would compromise the items’ fire retardant properties
If you’re wondering when to replace fire retardant clothing, remember that it may be possible to carry out repairs to damaged clothing. You should always carry this out with reference to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Any fabric used should be of the same type or a similarly fire retardant material in order to maintain that barrier. The wrong type or poor repairs can severely compromise the integrity of the garment.
Even with cosmetic or non-structural repairs, such as reflective strip, the wrong type of material can ignite.
In other words, if done properly, repairs can prolong the life of a fire-retardant suit. If in doubt, however, stay safe and buy a replacement.
3. If potentially flammable liquids stain the clothing
An item of fire retardant clothing may meet all of those criteria, but still present a hazard to the wearer through accumulated grime.
Check and monitor the cleanliness carefully. Grease, oils, solvents, and other chemical-based substances on the suit may be flammable. They may also degrade the fabric.
Replace the suit if you can’t get rid of stains through the cleaning process.
4. If suits do not properly fit their wearers
Replace or possibly redeploy PPE that does not properly fit the wearer. Clothing that is too small may present gaps in protection and a greater risk of tearing, for example.
It can also impinge on the wearer’s mobility. The same is true of clothing that is too large. If you are wondering when to replace fire retardant clothing, incorrect size is a clear indicator.
Checklist: When to replace fire retardant clothing
- When the clothing becomes damaged beyond repair
- When repairs would compromise the items’ fire retardant properties
- If potentially flammable liquids stain the clothing
- if suits do not properly fit their wearers
It may seem like an irrelevance to those working in a safety critical environment, but appearance does matter. Clothing that’s in good condition inspires confidence and, as shown, simply being clean and in good condition allows it to do its job more effectively.
If your fire retardant clothing doesn’t look the part, it’s less likely to be effective. We hope these points help you to better gauge the condition of your fire retardant clothing and, if necessary, order suitable replacements.
Hazchem Safety is a key player in the core industries we serve, meeting their needs with the highest standards of advice and expertise. Innovation drives all aspects of our business. The company is founded on the belief that it should grow to meet the demands of the customer. When these needs include replacing your fire retardant PPE, we are here to help.
For more information about our fire retardant PPE, request a callback.