By Douglas Mueller, Business Manager
Compromised FR garments need to be discarded
As a member of IBEW Local 1439 on the property of Entergy in Arkansas, Ameren Missouri and Alliant in Iowa, the prerequisite to wear flame retardant clothing is no longer an option. In fact, it is mandatory and considered PPE by OSHA.
Negotiations have taken place with all of the aforementioned companies with regard to yearly and new-hire FR clothing allotments. In addition, guidelines, agreements and policies have been set out as to appropriate wear, maintenance, repair and overall condition of such garments.
The issue of when a FR garment is not suitable for wear has become a topic of discussion at numerous operating centers throughout the three states. Management and members are equally questioning the appearance and/or condition of the outer-most layers of clothing if visible tears, rips and holes are present.
The motivation for this concern is valid, with merit, and raises a serious safety concern. In the event an electrical flash would transpire, documentation has confirmed the heat source will not penetrate FR clothing. However, where the garment is compromised, that same documentation illustrates serious injury from burns will ensue.
Regardless of experience level, years of service and knowledge, unforeseen errors and mishaps have and will continue to occur. Armed with that knowledge and conscious of the ability to properly protect oneself from serious injury, it is perplexing that any other path would be taken.
That path of uncertainty, potential injury, pain and remorse is not the desired trail and one which is within our ability to alter. If your clothing appears questionable, discard that garment. If a co-worker’s is doubtful, take the initiative and share your concern. It must be noted, if management sees a garment as problematic, they are obligated to ensure the safety of those they manage and will insist satisfactory clothing is worn.
FR clothing should be regarded in the same manner as all PPE and utilized in the identical fashion. If questioned about clothing condition, equate that concern to a co-worker addressing adequate cover-up are the nearing of energized primary. We were all trained to appreciate those who demonstrate a concern toward our personal safety, and this instance should be viewed no differently.