ATPV 101

17 Aug

atpv_blogpost

What is ATPV, and how is it used in your hazard assessment?

Put simply, ATPV—Arc Thermal Performance Value—is the most commonly reported test result of the effectiveness of FR clothing. It measures the amount of incident energy that your FR garment can protect you from before the onset of a 2nd degree burn. And the FR garments in your safety program must meet or exceed the Incident Energy required based on your hazard assessment. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

To better understand ATPV, let’s start with an overview of two main concepts: The Stoll Curve and Arc Ratings.

The Stoll Curve

The Stoll Curve is the predictive model used to measure the probability of burn injury. It quantifies the heat levels and exposure times that result in a second-degree burn, including high temperature exposure for a short time and low temperature exposure for a much longer duration.

Arc Rating

An arc rating is the protection level afforded by an FR fabric when exposed to an electric arc. The arc rating of a fabric is determined by exposing the fabric to a staged electrical arc. In real life, arc behavior can be unpredictable, so the testing requires samples be exposed to a “controlled” arc utilizing the ASTM 1959 standard.

ATPV

That brings us to ATPV (Arc Thermal Performance Value), which is a type of arc rating. The ATPV of an FR garment indicates that you have a 50% chance of the onset of a 2nd degree burn if exposed to an electric arc with the same calories of incident energy. The fabric will usually not break open unless exposed to incident energy levels higher than the arc rating.

So why is ATPV important? Think about it this way:

Let’s go back to what ATPV measures:

The amount of incident energy that your FR garment can protect you from before the onset of a 2nd degree burn.

Why is that important?

  • By definition, second-degree burns cause a blistering, blisters can break the skin (that’s why the test is designed around 2nd degree burns).
  • One of the pathways to infection is broken skin.
  • One of the causes of death in burn victims is infection.

When you think about it that way, matching the ATPV of the FR garments in your safety program to the value required by your hazard assessment is not just a matter of meeting the standards. For your guys, it can be the only thing that stands between them and a potentially life-threatening burn hazard.

To learn more about ATPV and Arc Ratings, download our whitepaper: Understanding Arc Ratings

Beat the Heat: Cover All Your Bases and Base Layers.

27 Jul

july_blog

Summer is in full swing, and the question on everyone’s mind is: “How do I help my guys stay cool in the hot summer months?” In fact, it may be the #1 question we at Bulwark receive this time of year, every year. That’s why we’re here to help guide you with some cold, hard facts.

 

1. Remember the 3 Rs: Rehydrate, Rest and Recognize

Rehydrate: Drink cold water consistently throughout the day—even before you feel thirsty.

Rest: Take breaks in shaded/air-conditioned areas:

  • Especially in mid-afternoon, when daytime temps hit their peak and the sun is at its strongest.
  • Shorter, more frequent work/rest cycles are best.

Recognize: Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Pale skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

 

2. NEVER Cheat In The Heat: Wear It Right

Keep sleeves rolled down, shirts buttoned all the way up, and tucked in. Remember: FR clothing can only protect you if you wear it correctly.

 

3. The Right Base Layers Boost Comfort

  • Wicking base layers pull perspiration off the skin, encouraging faster evaporation and increased comfort.
  • FR base layers add protection and can even allow for a lighter weight shirt without sacrificing your arc rating.
  • ALWAYS select an FR base layer.

OSHA 1910.269 Q&A Fact Sheet

18 Jul

OSHA_01

OSHA 1910.269 is the federal regulation regarding employee safety in the electric utility industry. Do you fully understand the requirements the standard presents? Are you confident your crew has the right FR apparel to match the hazards they face? Let Bulwark get you regulation ready with our condensed version of this long and complex document. Download our Q&A Fact Sheet for your quick reference.

Download Fact Sheet

If you still have questions, please contact a Bulwark sales rep by clicking here.

Top 10 FR Laundry Tips

25 Apr

WASH_TIPS_blog

As most of us know all too well, there’s no such thing as wash-and-go when it comes to caring for your PPE. Proper care and maintenance of FR/AR clothing is essential to its effectiveness. Most industry standards recommend following compliant garment manufacturers’ instructions, while others offer more specific guidance. To keep it simple, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 tips to maximize your PPE’s FR protection, wash after wash.

Read on to see our Top 10 Laundry Tips:

1. Do not use any kind of bleach or peroxide

2. Do not use any additive that could build up and impede FR performance such as fabric softeners or starch.

3. Wash FR/AR garments separately

4. Turn FR/AR garments inside out to help color retention and preserve appearance

5. Use liquid detergent for best results

6. Avoid the hottest washing and drying temperatures to reduce the impact of shrinkage

7. For tough stains, soak garments in liquid detergent or non-bleach, non-peroxide pre-wash stain removers before laundering.

8. For even tougher stains, FR garments may be dry cleaned

9. Tumble dry on low setting and do not over dry

10. Rewash garments with lingering odor

What’s in a Label?

25 Apr

LABEL_blog

When it comes to FR, the answer is: more than you might think. Even after assessing hazard risks and selecting the appropriate FR clothing, it also falls on the employer to ensure that each garment truly matches the hazard it’s designed to protect against. That’s why it’s especially important to identify proper labeling on the part of the manufacturer as an indicator that the garment is, indeed, fully compliant.

Read on to learn what to look for on your FR labels.

NFPA® and ASTM labeling requirements are strict, but not everyone follows the rules. Fraudulently labeled FR garments can often be identified by their violation of the standards.

According to ASTM F1506 6.3, FR garments must be labeled with the following information:

6.3.1 Meets requirements of Performance Specification F1506

6.3.2 Manufacturer’s Name

6.3.3 Fabric Identifier

6.3.4 Garment Tracking and Identification Code

6.3.5 Size and other associated standard labeling

6.3.6 Care instructions and fiber content

6.3.7 Arc rating (ATPV) or arc rating (Ebt)

6.3.7.1 When garments are made with a different number of fabric layers in different areas of the garment, the arc rating for each area shall be designated. Pockets, trim, closures, seams, labels, and heraldry shall not be considered as extra layers.

That’s a lot of label, but it shows specific compliance, as opposed to labels that are misleading or omit critical information.

NFPA 2112, Chapter 4 provides clear requirements for shirts, pants, coveralls and outerwear. In addition to bearing the mark of the 3rd party certifier, the following words and the edition of the standard must appear on the label of a certified garment:

“This garment meets the requirements of NFPA 2112, Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for the Protection of Industrial Personnel against Flash Fire, 2012 Edition.  NFPA 2113 requires upper and lower body coverage.”

Beware of subtle changes in wording on the label that claim to meet a portion of the standard, but do not meet all requirements. For example, the following language does not meet the requirements of NFPA 2112:

“This garment meets the performance requirements of NFPA 70E-2009, ASTM F1506-02ae1, NFPA 2112-2007.”

There’s one more way to be sure your FR gear is fully compliant: Visit the UL website, where you can query to ensure that the garment has, in fact, been certified by UL.

While it may seem nitpicky, these standards for FR labeling are very important. They are designed to protect the FR provider and FR wearer from purchasing and wearing fraudulent FR garments, which do not meet the minimum requirements of FR safety.

Make a habit of reading your labels. Because when it comes to protecting yourself and your crew from the hazards associated with the job, you can never be too careful.

AR and FR—What’s the Difference?

23 Mar

arfr

Arming your crew with the appropriate FR gear is a feat in itself. Navigating the ever-changing sea of standards? Now that’s another beast entirely. Bulwark is here to help you choose the right FR program by ensuring you have a thorough grasp on the standards and what they mean for you—and your crew.

When the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) introduced the term “Arc-Rated” or “AR” in its 2012 revision to NFPA 70E, it was a bit of a head-scratcher. The question on every safety manager’s mind was: what’s the difference between AR and FR? According to Bulwark’s Technical Training Manager, Derek Sang, the most basic and important thing to know when it comes to AR and FR is that all arc-rated clothing is flame resistant, but not all flame resistant clothing is arc-rated.

For a piece of clothing to be considered flame resistant, the fabric used to make the garment must withstand ignition and/or rapidly self-extinguish in order to protect the wearer from the dangers of flash fire, arc flash, molten metals and other hazards. In the event of a flash fire or arc flash, the FR PPE worn must resist catching fire, melting, and continuing to burn after the initial flash to act as a barrier between the wearer and the hazard.

The fabric used to create arc-rated clothing is subject to additional tests, above and beyond fabric labeled simply “FR.” Primarily, it is exposed to a series of arc flashes to determine how much energy the fabric is able to block before it would likely cause the wearer to obtain a 2nd degree burn, 50% of the time. The result of this test, expressed in calories, is known as the Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV).

Current standards for arc flash protection, detailed by NFPA 70E, state that all PPE clothing must also be flame resistant to qualify for an arc rating. In other words: all AR clothing is FR, but not all FR clothing is AR. This is because, based on the results of the series of tests outlined above, equipment rated FR may not always provide the adequate level of protection for workers who are at risk of encountering arc flashes. These employees—general industry electricians (70E)— must wear the appropriate level of AR clothing for the hazard, in order to reduce their risk of serious injury or death caused by an arc flash.

Calculators, Comfort and Compliance: Bulwark’s 2015 in Review

22 Dec

dec_blog

 

For safety professionals, the job of making FR compliance a shared priority is a mighty task. You have an ever-changing sea of standards to navigate, and stay ahead of. The people under your watch don’t always understand the right way to wear, or care for, their flame-resistant apparel. And the apparel itself has historically been so bulky, itchy and hot that it’s resulted in wearers taking totally gettable, but potentially catastrophic shortcuts just in an attempt to improve their comfort.

 

In 2015, we doubled-down on our efforts to arm you with a total FR solution. We created the world’s first online Arc Rating Calculator so you can quickly, and easily determine the correct FR layered system Arc Rating. We continued to expand our revolutionary iQ Series® as means of helping dramatically improve wearer comfort on the job site – even offering free wear trials (get yours here). We even developed an array of new tools ranging from FR care & maintenance fridge magnets to “Wear It Right” posters to remind you and your crews to follow the Do’s and Don’ts of FR safety. All as means of helping you build that culture of compliance.

 

Though covering you is always our first priority, it was hard to miss the press covering us in 2015. First, the USA Today followed Kevin Hartigan, an Arizona Public Service lineman responsible for keeping the lights on at the Grand Canyon. Throughout the story Hartigan was compliantly clad in Bulwark FR. In October, NBC’s The Today Show featured a Halloween science experiment segment where each of the program’s morning anchors was safely outfitted in Bulwark a lab coat. Finally, in November, we were seen sponsoring the Veteran’s Day Classic at the Kern County Raceway. The race was a great opportunity to connect with our Oil & Gas community in Bakersfield, CA.

 

All in all, 2015 was one for the books. But rest assured our focus at Bulwark is always fixed on the future. Looking for any new way imaginable to arm you with the right apparel, insights, tools and technologies to deliver what you covet most: confidence – on every level.

Is Your FR Program Overlooking Undergarments?

24 Aug

bulwark base layer

When you think about establishing a successful FR clothing program, what “check list” items immediately spring to mind? Generally speaking, the first two mental steps people in this industry take are: 1.) Evaluating the thermal hazard you are providing protection for; and 2.) Selecting the appropriate FR garments for that hazard.

Rightly so.

But for your FR program to be fully effective, you need to look beyond just choosing the right gear for the environment you and your crew are working in. You need to examine every layer closely, beginning with your base layers.

Fact is, an FR clothing program is not fully defined if it does not place restrictions or set guidelines on clothing to be worn under the FR uniform. In the worst circumstances, lack of guidance on base layer clothing can leave an employee at risk for injuries. Consider, for a moment, the extent of an injury that could be sustained by someone wearing a t-shirt made of synthetic fibers under their FR clothing. Sure, the outermost FR layer will self-extinguish in a thermal event. But enough thermal energy could transfer to the t-shirt underneath, causing it to melt to the wearer’s skin.

One simple way to manage this issue is to mandate that all undergarments be made of 100% cotton or other natural fiber. However, this option places the responsibility of choosing compliant clothing squarely on the employee. And, it will require additional “policing” on your behalf.

In our opinion, the most comprehensive approach is for the employer to specify and issue the appropriate FR base layers to be worn under the company’s FR uniforms. By doing so, not only are you taking the choice of undergarments out of the hands of your employees, and the questions of whether or not they have the right fiber content against their skin out of the equation. You will also be providing a second layer of FR protection should they inadvertently leave a shirt unbuttoned or untucked in a moment of complacency. (A layer that, believe it or not, can also provide greater comfort; most FR undergarments pull sweat away from the body to help keep workers cool and dry.)

In the case of protection against electric arc exposure, only FR layers can contribute to a composite ATPV rating, so issuing an FR base layer to be worn under an FR shirt may increase ATPV and possibly increase protection.

So, there you have it. Your base layer basics, compliments of the world’s #1 FR brand. Next time you’re evaluating your FR program, please keep these tips top of mind. And don’t let your undergarments become an oversight.

Click here to view our base layers.

How To Beat The Heat Hazard

7 Aug

The standards say you need to dress for total body flame-resistant coverage. The catch? Total body coverage, in FR, can become insufferable – especially come summertime. As the world’s #1 FR education resource, Bulwark is here with a simple infographic to help you reinforce what to do, and how to dress, to remain cool, comfortable AND compliant when working in the midday sun.

beat the heat- topbeat the heat bottom

Heat Stress: By The Basics, And The Base Layers.

27 Jul

io_bulwark_oil_refinery-9830

“How do I help my guys stay cool in the hot summer months?” That may be the #1 question we at Bulwark receive this time of year, every year. The world’s #1 FR brand is here to help guide you with some cold, hard facts.

       
       

    1. Remember the 3 Rs: Rehydrate, Rest and Recognize
      Rehydrate:
      Drink cool water often and before you feel thirsty.
      Rest:
      Take breaks in shaded/air-conditioned areas:
      Especially when daytime temps are at their peak.
      Shorter, more frequent work/rest cycles are best.
      Recognize:
      Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others; and report concerns immediately.
    2.  
       

    3. NEVER Cheat In The Heat
      Keep shirts buttoned, sleeves rolled down, and tucked in.
      FR clothing can only protect you if worn properly.
    4.  
       

    5. The Right Base Layers Boost Comfort
      – Wicking base layers move perspiration from the skin outward, to allow for faster evaporation, and constant comfort.
      – An FR base layer adds protection and might even allow for the use of a lighter weight shirt without sacrificing ATPV/ Protection.
      – ALWAYS select a base layer that is flame resistant or at least 100% cotton