Selecting the correct thermal protection begins with understanding the hazards faced on the job. Different factors such as exposure to extreme heat or cold, wet weather or poor visibility environments will determine the need for specialised PPC + PPE. Understanding the risk factors is also required when it comes to selecting the best thermal protection. A fire-fighter and a person working in a foundry are both exposed to high radiant heat, and so require adequate protection. The difference in their specific protection requirements comes from the type of work they do and the other hazards they face – for example, although a fire-fighter needs protection from radiant heat, they are not exposed to a high risk from molten metal splash, like a foundry worker. Conversely, a foundry worker requires protection from radiant heat, flames, molten metal splash and fire but are at a reduced risk in terms of exposure to smoke and other hazardous fumes and particulates. CHARNAUD® has compiled a list of criteria to consider when selecting the most suitable thermal protection.

What Is the Garment Made Of?

When thinking about the garment and component materials, one must consider the environment in which a person works. Along with on-the-job risks, elements such as heat, fire and flames will ultimately dictate what kind of materials are best suited to the type of work being done.

  • Consider the median temperature which the end-user will be exposed to. Also consider for how long he/she will be exposed.
  • Consider the maximum temperatures which the end-user may be exposed to.
  • What are the required thermal properties – should the garment insulate or help dissipate heat?
  • Does the garment need to incorporate, for example, reflective panels. Does the garment need to be manufactured in corporate colours and have a company logo or branding affixed to it?

Now Read: Steps to Inspect Your Fire-Fighting Gear to Ensure Maximum Safety

How Is It Made?

Garment construction can affect its thermal protection properties. There are many industries which require that their workers wear thermal protection, however each industry also has a list of unique requirements based on the nature of the job. For example, apart from the obvious risks fire-fighters need to be able to move, climb and run unimpeded, therefore their garment requires greater flexibility and breathability. When considering the type of thermal protection required, one must also consider its flexibility, durability, its comfort, its appearance and it’s thermal insulative properties. Different fabrics offer different protection factors, some of which are due to the qualities of the fabric’s fibre.

What Does It Need To Do?

Needs are dictated by the hazards of the job, and often the optimal need is to preserve the life of the end-user at all costs.
Fire-fighters and foundry workers know they require thermal protection, but the factors relating to the protection afforded, can differ. Here are some things to consider:

  • Does the wearer’s life need to be preserved?
  • Does the garment have to present in a certain manner, either to meet safety codes or to signify rank or as corporate identification?
  • Must the garment offer protection from radiant heat or convective heat? Or conductive heat?

What Is the Financial Investment?

This is an economic exercise where one has to weigh up the threat to life, the garment cost and garment longevity. However, economics cannot be the driving factor when selecting the type of thermal protection required. Cheaper often means more expensive in the long run. Cheaper garments tend to be less durable and need to be replaced more frequently. The longevity of a thermal protective garment should warrant the investment, after all you cannot put a price on a life. When considering the financial investment, think about the cost of garment maintenance and laundering. While the need to maintain and launder garments is ever-present, it is these very things which can help to extend the life of a garment. A frequent smaller financial input into garment care, will result in enhanced garment lifespan thus saving money in the long term. Cost-effective does not have to mean cheap.

Trust CHARNAUD® for Quality PPE

At the end of the day, thermal protection is about saving lives and that’s why its crucially important to select the right thermal protection for the job. If you’re not sure what’s best for your employees, your CHARNAUD® agent is ready and waiting to guide you to the best solution which suits your needs and your budget.

Now Read: Insight into EN 15614:2007 – Wildland Fire-fighting