Why Does the High Visibility Standard Have FR Requirements?

Making assumptions, when it comes to job safety, can result in injury or a potential fatality.  Assumptions that a co-worker completed a task. An assumption that a piece of equipment has been properly shut down or locked out.  An assumption that the high visibility vest you are wearing, is in fact flame resistant.        

Thankfully, the American National Standards Institute have worked to help solve this problem by adding it to the list of recent changes to ANSI 107.  It’s important to note that these recent changes do not mean that all high visibility safety apparel must be flame resistant.  However, it does mean that if high visibility apparel is marketed as compliant with ANSI 107, then the garment must meet specific FR standards in order to claim flame resistance on the ANSI 107 label.  Not only would the garment be ANSI 107 compliant, but NFPA 2112 or 70E compliant as well.

High visibility and non-FR dangers

The reason for the inclusion of the FR portion, is to overcome any confusion in the marketplace regarding what is and isn’t flame resistant. This issue started with high visibility vests that were marketed as “FR,” but made of polyester and treated with a flame inhibitor.  Although these vests were often tested to ASTM D6413 (vertical flame test) and have a flame out of less than or equal to 2-seconds and a char length less than 6” after removal of the ignition source, they were not close to the performance of products that were considered FR clothing.

Users wearing flame resistant clothing were putting on these FR vests, believing they were protected from fire ignition.  In all reality, if they were exposed to either an electric arc or flash fire, the vest they were wearing would become a potential safety hazard. While this type of vest may be ok for certain work applications, a treated polyester vest will become molten, melt and drip onto the wearer in an electric arc or flash fire situation.

For that reason and at the request of many end users, FR standards were included in the ANSI 107-2010 standard. If compliant HVSA is to be marketed as FR, it must be compliant with one of the following standards specifically referenced in the ANSI 107 standard: ASTM F1506, NFPA 70E, NFPA 2112, ASTM F1891, ASTM F2733, ASTM F2302, NFPA 1971 and NFPA 1977.

New high visibility and FR combo standards

Since compliance includes all labeling requirements associated with the other standards, a flame resistant, high-visibility garment would have to also have the appropriate FR labeling information, as well as an ANSI 107 label that states it is ANSI 107 compliant for high visibility and FR.  Since this did not completely overcome the confusion in the marketplace, the new 2015 revision goes into even more details regarding the required labeling for an ANSI 107 FR garment.

ANSI 107-2015 requires that all HVSA to be labeled as either “FR” or “Not FR” next to the pictogram of the garment. The label must also include a statement that the garment is not flame-resistant as defined by ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 or that it is flame-resistant and the standard it meets. (A separate label for NFPA 1977 and NFPA 2112 is required.)

If you would like to learn more about your flame resistant or high visibility apparel options and not sure where to begin, then send us a note and we would be happy to help keep your employees safe and compliant.

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Topics:   Visibility