As the seasons change, we are used to adjusting our everyday wardrobes to combat dwindling temperatures. We regularly hear of the dangers of heat stress, but what about cold stress? For workers like those in the oil & gas and utility industries who may face long periods of exposure to the outdoors, transitioning work wear for the changing seasons is important.

Long hours outdoors leaves workers susceptible to cold stress and related illnesses.


WEBINAR TRANSCRIPTION


Jamie: Hello, and a warm welcome to everybody. We would like to wish everyone a good morning, a good afternoon or a good evening depending on where you are in the world today. My name is Jamie, and I’m one of the co-founders of Safeopedia.

Safeopedia’s mission is to support the EHS professionals, operational folks and any safety-minded individuals through free educational content, tools and resources. A huge thank you to those dedicated professionals for the great work they do on a daily basis.

Today, we’re very proud to present Performance FR for Cold Environments: What You Need to Know. This Safeopedia webinar has been made possible by National Safety Apparel, a preferred supplier member of SafetyNetwork. SafetyNetwork demands excellence, so demand SafetyNetwork.

It is now my extreme pleasure to introduce to you today’s presenters, Melissa Dixon and Will Vereen.

Melissa has been with National Safety Apparel since 2010 where she started out as a technical design and R&D manager where her focus was designing the innovative, high-quality products NSA is known for. She is now the Product Manager for mechanical cut protection and arc flash PPE. She concentrates on product innovation, market and industry research, customer-focused development and she specializes in custom products to help customers when they have those unique requirements. She recently got married, and started her MBA, and she enjoys cooking, yoga, spending time outdoors with her husband and their dog, going to concerts and listening to podcasts.

Will is a veteran in the protective apparel industry with over 20 years of experience, including fabric development, garment design and garment manufacturing. He has been granted 3 U.S. patents for FR/AR garment design. Will is also known for leadership in the ASTM committees and task groups that develop and maintain the main performance specs and guides for arc-resistant protective clothing, including ASTM F1506, F1449 and 2757. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and two daughters. They love music and enjoy travelling together.

I now invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy the presentation. With that, Melissa and Will, please take it away.

Will: Thanks, Jamie. As seasons change, we’re used to adjusting our wardrobes to combat cold and wet weather. For those working outdoors, especially those that face arc flash and flash fire hazards, it’s not as simple as throwing on your favourite jacket. Today, we’ll give you the information you need to remain safe, comfortable and compliant this winter.

Our main focus will be on high-performance technologies like moisture-wicking and breathable fabrics, which are commonly talked about during summer but are equally valuable in winter to stay warm. We’ll start with a quick overview of compliance, define cold stress and then get into high-performance fabrics and layering concepts. We will wrap up with a discussion of outerwear and head protection.

Moving on to the next slide, we’re going to go over the compliance overview. First, OSHA has very specific guidelines on protecting workers from various hazards. On a high level though, we could consider OSHA’s guidance to follow these 4 points: first, identifying all potential hazards; second, updating safe work practices and providing appropriate engineering controls; third is providing appropriate PPE for the hazards that you can’t eliminate; and then lastly, educating the employees on the potential hazards, the work practices and proper care and use of the PPE.

In order to find the best protective garments for workers, it’s important to conduct a thorough hazard analysis to identify all potential hazards. This includes determining if employees will work outdoors and subjected to weather that could cause cold stress. It’s important to note that all of the hazards listed on this page can have an impact on selecting the appropriate FR PPE, but employers should develop engineering controls and safe work practices first to decrease or eliminate the risk to the workers. Some of these are shown on the next slide.

There are a ton of options to minimize the risks of working in cold climates, but there are some basics that we can share. In many cases, employers may already be doing these. Training employees to recognize and respond to hypothermia symptoms is probably the most important thing on this list. Workers need to know that hypothermia increases the likelihood of accidents and how to combat it. You can also visit OSHA’s website for additional guidance.

The next slide covers some of the main factors that impact a person’s sensitivity to cold. Age and body composition are obvious. Supervisors may not be aware of all their workers’ medications and pre-existing medical conditions. Also, workers aren’t likely to volunteer information about their alcohol and drug use, and may attempt to deny being exhausted in certain situations. Employers should encourage their workers to take responsibility to understand how these factors can impact their safety and the safety of their coworkers.

Hypothermia can range from mild to severe. Mild hypothermia starts as soon as the body’s core temp hits 95 degrees. Recognizing the symptoms of mild hypothermia is an important step to making sure it doesn’t get worse, so let’s cover those on the next slide.

Symptoms of mild hypothermia include: shivering, but you’re still alert; numbness in hands and feet; loss of coordination and clumsiness; and pain from the cold. Even mild hypothermia has a negative impact on worker’s productivity and safety. Loss of coordination, shivering and the distraction caused by the pain will lead to increases in incidents and accidents. Workers should also understand that if they ignore the symptoms of mild hypothermia and tough it out, the symptoms can get much worse. Workers should also be trained to recognize the symptoms of severe hypothermia such as confusion, slurred speech and muscle rigidity and should understand that this requires immediate medical attention.

To summarize, the combination of safe work practices, engineering controls and appropriate PPE should eliminate the potential for mild hypothermia to impact work safety.

Now Melissa will describe some of the newer high-tech PPE FR clothing solutions for cold weather.

Melissa: Thanks, Will. Will went over the symptoms and things to look out for. OSHA has a great cold stress guide on their website. One of the things that they stress is the importance of dressing properly. This is one of those engineering controls that employers can instill upon their workers to make sure they’re prepared for the changing season.

The recommendation that OSHA outlines in their cold stress guide are to wear light, loose layers that allow for ventilation. These often provide better insulation and they’re easy to remove, which makes it really to adjust as temperatures change throughout the day. They also recommend a moisture-wicking layer against the skin. They actually don’t recommend cotton. Cotton is a very common material used in undershirt, but it actually retains a lot of moisture and loosens its insulation value very quickly. Then the last recommendation is; do not forget head protection since a lot of the heat from our bodies can escape from our head.

So we’ll be going through really in-depth into all of these recommendations and give you some background information and some new technologies that are available to help you plan for this winter.

So OSHA, the CDC and NIOSH all stress the importance of staying dry. The reason that is, is because your body can really lose heat at an accelerated pace when it does have excess moisture. According to the CDC, moisture can actually accelerate hypothermia in even mild conditions, so even temperatures above 40 degrees. This is why moisture wicking is one of those recommendations. Moisture wicking is a very important tool for mitigating the effects of cold while working outdoors.

It’s kind of funny because the OSHA recommendations align really perfectly with our end-user research on what end users tend to define a comfortable garment as. The goal of providing comfortable PPE and comfortable garments to wear is to really help eliminate that distraction of physical discomfort. This also is going to encourage them to actually wear their PPE and wear it properly. Studies have shown that when workers are provided garments that they’re comfortable with, they’re actually more likely to wear them.

Going through some of these characteristics that we have designed as a comfortable garment. Lightweight. It may seem counterintuitive to wear lightweight garments in the winter time, but providing lightweight layering options actually provides more insulation and it helps to maintain warmth without, one, decreasing mobility, which can sometimes happen in a big, bulky garment. It also helps to not weigh that wearer down, so they’re going to be able to move a lot easier, they’re not going to feel like something’s really weighing them down.

That’s going to help too with not increasing the risk of overheating, which can be a problem. You have to remember, these workers may be doing some hard labor and they are working outdoors, so that is going to cause them to maybe sweat a little bit. That’s why it’s important to have breathable garments. Breathable garments are going to allow that hot, moist air that tends to get generated when someone’s working, it will allow that to escape the garment. That way, it’s not going to get trapped against their skin, because we know moisture getting trapped against the skin is something that does accelerate heat loss. Right into with breathability is moisture wicking, which again, is going to help pull that moisture away from that body so that wearer can stay dry and, ultimately, stay warm.

So diving in a little bit into the science behind moisture wicking. Moisture wicking is really most often obtained through a combination of some different types of fibers. There are some topical chemical treatments that can be applied to fabrics, but those tend to not last very long and the effectiveness isn’t as good as these good fiber blends.

To achieve moisture wicking through fiber blends, it’s done with a combination of hydrophilic fibers and hydrophobic fibers. Hydrophilic is a fiber that really loves moisture. It absorbs moisture very easily and pulls that moisture from the skin. Now, hydrophobic fiber is a fiber that doesn’t like water. It really resists and pushes water away. When these fibers are combined into a material, they work to help pull the moisture away from the person’s skin, push it out to be at the outside part of the fabric. This allows that moisture to be released into the air through a really quick evaporation process. So when these fibers are used in the right ratios, this can result in fabrics that dry 2-3, sometimes even 4 times faster than a standard cotton garment.

Here are some common moisture-wicking fiber combinations that are used in FR clothing and PPE. So your hydrophilic or water-loving fibers, common ones are Lyocell or Tencel, Viscose and Rayon, cotton and wool. These water-loving fibers really load up with moisture and they tend to swell. So garments that are made from fabrics that are just strictly made of hydrophilic fibers tend to really have a problem with breathability when they do get that moisture loaded into them. It allows those fibers to swell, but they can’t allow to pass in between the fibers, so that’s kind of an issue that comes up when you’re really only working with one type of fiber.

Some hydrophobic fibers that are common in FR clothing: Modacrylic tends to be a very popular one that you’ll see, polyester, nylon and then your aramids like Nomex.

Moisture wicking is considered a reactive technology. The reason it’s called reactive is because it starts working once discomfort starts to set in, so in order for that moisture-wicking technology to do its job, the person has to have already started sweating. So they sweat, the moisture gets absorbed into the material and then released.

There are certain technologies that are more proactive. They start to regulate that person’s comfort before anything actually starts to happen. An example of this that we’ll get into more detail is phase-change technology. How this works is it actually absorb and releases the person’s body heat within the fiber. This works to keep the person warmer when it’s cold out and cooler when it’s warm out. This helps to minimize sweat, so it’s going to be working before you even start sweating, and then the skin temperature gets balanced.

Phase-change technology was actually developed for NASA to help astronauts maintain a comfortable temperature in space. This proactive performance can result in a temperature regulation of +/-3 degrees, so again, in cold and warm settings, it does work. Then it also decreases perspiration up to 34%. So combining reactive technology such us moisture wicking with a proactive technology like phase-change can result in a really advance way to help regulate skin temperature, especially in those settings where your temperature or environment may be changing a lot, these are really excellent garments.

Let’s get into some layering. OSHA recommended some lightweight layering, and we’ll get into some really specific examples of how we can layer. But in order to combine the principles that we talked about, I’m just going to go over some high-performance layering recommendation.

Layering is the easiest way to keep warm reducing the risk of overheating because you can adjust as your temperature changes throughout the day or the degree of physical labor change, so you can take off and put on as needed. But it’s important to make sure that your layers are working together properly. Combining light layers that are breathable is going to allow that moist hot air that gets generated from that physical labor. That breathability is going to allow that escape. Again, that moisture-wicking base layer underneath is really important because it’s going to move that moisture away from the skin to keep that person dry.

If you have a moisture-wicking base layer on but your external layers over it aren’t breathable or moisture-wicking, that moisture can get trapped in between your layers, which can leave you feeling cold and clammy. So using the principle of making sure you have performance, moisture-wicking breathable layers is really going to make sure that all of your layers are working in conjunction.

Another best practice that you may want to have is unzipping your jackets during your breaks, wearing zip-front hoodies that can just allow that excess moisture to dry and release. That way, you’re not getting that moisture trapped in between the layers.

So now, Will is going to go over our suggestion for cold weather layering based on the principles that we’ve outlined today.

Will: Thanks, Melissa. Planning for the weather is important. As Melissa said, wearing multiple layers instead of one super heavy coat or parka allows you to add or remove layers during the day as conditions change. The best cold weather layering system is typically 4 layers plus headwear and gloves. Let’s discuss the 4 layers first.

We start with the base layer. This is one of the most important components of an effective cold weather system but is often overlooked. It needs to be lightweight, moisture-wicking and breathable. It’s not just a long-sleeved top. It really needs to include the long sleeve, long john bottoms as well.

In winter, workers can be tempted to cheat and wear non-FR garments in an attempt to stay warm. Cheating is more likely at companies that don’t provide appropriate FR winter clothing to address the local weather conditions. As we cover these cold weather FR layers, we will list some common non-FR unsafe alternatives that are often used. Polyester or polypropylene base layers are very popular in non-FR sports and they’re widely available at retail outlets, but they can melt and burn in an arc or flash fire.

The mid-layer is next. This is typically your normal CAT 2 FR daily wear, and it’s worn year-round. Most of the time, it’s just cotton or cotton-blended FR shirts and FR jeans. We know that cotton, especially when worn against the skin, doesn’t move moisture and is a terrible insulator. That’s why we always say that moisture-wicking FR base layers are critical in winter, but top and bottom. Note that wearing mid-layer FR garments that are also breathable and moisture-wicking over a moisture-wicking FR base layer is actually the best solution.

Next we have the insulation layer. Typically, this is zip front hoodies, or polar fleece or even insulated bibs. These work to trap warm air but may not be windproof. Breathability in the insulation layer helps eliminate perspiration, as we’ve mentioned before, which can leave you damp and cold. Zip fronts are more practical than pullover hoodies or fleeces because they can easily be removed as conditions change. Be on the lookout for non-FR sweatshirts, which are typically worn under FR outerwear. This can be hard to spot, obviously.

The last layer is the waterproof, windproof breathable outer shell. Blocking the wind and rain are key components of a high-performance outer shell, but it’s also critical that the shell breathes because workers are exerting energy and their perspiration needs to escape so they stay dry. Following the OSHA guidelines and best practices for cold stress protection, we recommend lightweight waterproof, windproof breathable technologies like Gor-Tex. High-performance outer shells may be more expensive than traditional heavy jackets or non-breathable FR rainwear solutions, but they have a better value proposition because they’re so versatile and effective.

Making sure your workers know that their rainwear—be sure to make sure that any rainwear you use or outer shell you use is certified to use in your hazards. Some FR suits are not really what we would consider FR rainwear suits and aren’t safe for arc and flash hazards.

We’ve now described the 4 main layers that make up the best cold weather layering systems, the combination of a moisture-wicking base layer, your day-to-day layer, the insulation layer and the high-performance outer shell will make a huge difference in worker comfort safety and productivity. Now Melissa will offer some final points to consider.

Melissa: Thanks, Will. So as the seasons change your weather is going to start changing, but the other thing to consider is the amount of daylight is also going to decrease. Days are getting shorter and unpredictable can also lead to low-visibility conditions. This time of year, it’s even more important for workers that wear hi-vis safety apparel to make sure that they are meeting their ANSI 107 requirements. One thing that we like to recommend is consider hi-vis layering pieces.

Vests can be very cumbersome to try and get over outerwear and that could discourage workers from wearing them, so consider something like hi-vis hoodies or some outerwear that meet ANSI. There are some modern looks here like the color blocking that tends to get workers more excited about wearing them. These are really good to consider. Make sure that your workers are being seen in this time of year when daylight is not frequent as in, maybe, in the summertime.

For those workers that don’t need to meet ANSI, you may want to consider enhanced visibility. This can be achieved through color blocking, like the shirt on the left there, and high contrast. Utilizing colors that are highly contrasting your background, so very common are orange, and yellow and red. These are going to help that worker be seen in low light and poor visibility conditions.

The best way to enhance visibility of workers is reflective trim. This is great for low light conditions. It’s one of the best things to enhance a worker’s visibility. The best bet is actually a reflective trim that offers high contrast, so combining those two principles. The shirt you see in the middle there has, not only the high contrast of the yellow against the navy, but it also has that retro-reflective material. That’s going to be great for low light conditions. So just some additional considerations when picking out your layering pieces and also your outerwear.

We’re going to move on and wrap up with head protection. Just like your outerwear, your head protection does need to comply with the appropriate standard. If your hazard is arc flash or flash fire, you need to make sure that your accessories are rated for those hazards. Winter head protection is one of the things does recommend because, again, it’s so effective at reducing heat loss from your body.

You want to make sure that you’re looking for those breathable and moisture-wicking solutions just like your base layer. That’s going to increase worker comfort and, ultimately, keep them work by keeping that moisture away from their skin.

So something to look out for—it can be very difficult to tell whether someone’s hat or balaclava is FR or not, so make sure that if your employer does not provide solutions that you are looking for a safe alternative.

The other area where people tend to grab their regular garments instead of an FR is gloves. So there are FR glove liners available that can add warmth under rubber voltage gloves, and there are several innovations happening right now in the arc-rated glove space thanks to new standards that do allow gloves to be arc-rated. So this is definitely an area to pay attention to. Coming up, there are going to be, I’m sure, some great new products on the horizon.

Now there are so many different options available in FR head protection. Pretty much anything that you have, that you like to wear for your winter sports or working outdoors at home, you can find a solution that’s very similar but in FR. A lot of people, when they think of an FR head protection item, they think, oh, just the standard balaclava, there are tons of options available, lots of different colors, different materials and weight.

Convertible styles like the ninja, is what we like to call it, is great for the winter because it does allow you to adjust your level of coverage. Workers really like this because they can pull the face part up over their nose and mouth for additional protection. These are great solutions as well. Beanies and caps are available. They look just like your everyday winter hat, but they have FR protection. Hard hat liners are another solution that can be secured into the hard hat. They offer warmth and are pretty easy to use. Workers like them because they can leave them in the hard hat, very good ease of use.

Neck gaiters and multi-styles, these are some great new products that have been coming onto the market in the past couple of years. These are really great. They’re highly functional. Workers can wear them multiple ways. They’re available in a variety of different materials. These are really the things that we’ve seen workers because they are so versatile. There’s no need to stop at a basic balaclava. There are plenty of options to remain comfortable and warm while still remaining compliant.

One last thing to note on head protection, NFPA 2112 actually just, the 2018 update, does now account for head protection to be certified. So that’s one thing that’s been coming up in our space recently, a lot of questions, a lot of interest on that, so be aware are also available in the marketplace as well.

So just to wrap up, we talked about preventing cold stress. Some of the key points that we’ve talked about today are education and preparation, so hopefully, this presentation today was really educational and informative for you. Staying dry and properly dressed are also key to preventing cold stress. Some of the principles that we talked about today that are recommended by OSHA are lightweight loose layers, taking into account moisture wicking and breathable technologies to keep warm and then making sure that you’re choosing compliant insulation, weather barriers, head protection and gloves.

Comfort is the gateway to compliance because providing workers with garments that they actually want to wear are really going to improve not only their satisfaction but their productivity, and they really are the safer choice to providing protection from cold stress and hazards that the workers are facing.

If you’d like some additional information on cold stress, we do have a list of resources here available for you. I think we’re going to open it up for questions. So thank you, Jaime. Thank you, Safeopedia for hosting this webinar for us today, and hopefully, we get some great questions answered.

Jamie: Great, thank you, Melissa. Thank you, Will. Yes, definitely a few questions coming in, so we’ll get to those. Great presentation, very educational. We very much appreciate that.

So why don’t we start with question number one. Ryan asks, “How do I know if my rainwear is appropriate for my particular hazard?”

Will: Okay, I can take this one. I think that it’s important to familiarize yourself with the appropriate standards. For electric arc, ASTM F1891 is the most important; for flash fire, it’s ASTM F2733; for hi-vis, ANSI 107.

The reason we mentioned looking out for standards with rainwear is there was a period of time where some manufacturers of rainwear were quoting ASTM F2302, which has a much lower bar to climb in order for them to label the garment that way. At this point, that standard has been withdrawn, so it’s not as big an issue now, but it’s still something that you want to be cognizant of. There are specific standards for rainwear that are different from arc flash or flash fire standards for normal wearing apparel.

Jamie: Great. Thank you, Will. Alright, there’s a question here from Jason. How can I tell if my FR-rated item is certified for flash fires? I assume that if it is FR, it includes flash fires. Please clarify. Thank you.

Will: Melissa, I’ll let you do that one.

Melissa: Oh, sure, yeah. So the standard for clothing that protects against flash fire is NFPA 2112, so you’re going to want to want to make sure that, that is listed on your garment labels, that it does comply with NFPA 2112. That specific standard requires a third-party certificate, so you should also see a label in your garment. The most common third-party certification body is UL, so you should see a label that says UL-Certified.” SEI is another that could also be in there.

The other thing to do is you can always ask for the flash fire test report from the manufacturer or you can check the UL website. They have a great directory on there where you can—if you’re questioning, you can check and see is that company and is that garment certified, so there are a couple of different ways you can go about it.

Jamie: Great. Thanks, Melissa. Let’s see here. We do have a question from Ariana. Can’t I just wear a heavy sweatshirt or coat with durable water-repellent instead of the mid-layer and outer layer together?

Will: I’ll take this one. This is a good question. That could certainly be an affordable choice in mild climates, but one layer with DWR like a heavy sweatshirt doesn’t work nearly as well as a mid-layer and outer shell combination, especially in what we’d consider northern cold climates, and also the duration.

You want to be able to change your protection during the day as conditions change. Most of the time, it’s very cold in the morning, at midday, it warms up, so you want to be able to shed layers and then add them back during the evening. The mid-layer/outer layer combination really does a much better job of holding in the warm air and allowing it to breathe and get out while still holding in the warm air versus a typical heavy coat or a sweatshirt with DWR.

Then the last point is, DWR is durable water repellent. The “D” in that is debatable. A lot of times water-repellent finishes aren’t very durable, so they would never actually perform like the mid-layer and high-performance outer shell that we’re discussing.

Jamie: Great. Thanks, you guys. Is there already a checklist that guides me when I order a cold environment PPE?

Will: We mentioned that OSHA does have guidelines that are condensed and are helpful for employers to set up and actually to justify that these systems are necessary and are functional. We used a lot of their guidance in constructing the document. We have links in the back that can refer you some condensed research backup for these systems.

In terms of what individual distributors might have to guide you, we can’t answer that, but we would refer you to OSHA and NIOSH. They’ve done a lot of work here.

Jamie: That’s great. You had a few links so, just for the audience, we’ll send out those links to the OSHA and the CDC as well in the follow-up email with the recording. Thanks for providing those, you guys.

Let’s see here. Are there any types of socks for use in cold weather? Many get chilblains and dry feet.

Melissa: Ah, yes. So I would recommend wool. Wool is good for the cold weather, and it’s also a natural fiber so it’s naturally flame-resistant, so it’s definitely a good option for the cold. That’s an easy one.

Will: The only thing I would add to that—two things. Silk, very standard silk liner sock is important. Then the second thing, wool is great, just make sure it’s not too thick so that it compresses in the boot. You need to have the right sock for your boot. Too much air—too thin and it doesn’t work well. Too thick and it actually doesn’t work well. You have to use some judgment there.

Jamie: Great, thanks, you guys. Alright, Aimee has a question here. Would this apply to employees that work in -32-degree freezer buildings?

Will: The answer to that is yes. It would be very appropriate to them, but you would have to refer back to the early part of the presentation where we talked about safe work practices and engineering controls. Certainly, taking breaks, frequent breaks is important. The systems that we recommend delay the onset of hypothermia, they don’t stop it. Nothing really stops it other than getting out of the conditions, and allowing your body to warm up and allowing your garments to dry out completely. Those are very important. So it’s definitely appropriate and there are just other things that have to come under that kind of stress.

Jamie: Great. Thank you, Will. Here’s an interesting question. How about inner-hard-hat liners that keep your head warm, yet still maintain safety factor integrity of the hard hat? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Melissa: That is a great point. That is recommended. When you’re picking out your FR head protection, it is important to try it on with your hard hat, make sure you’re not wearing anything that is very bulky, that is going to affect the way that your hardhat is sitting on your head, so that is extremely important. You do want to look for hard hat liners that do meet that appropriate qualification, so your FR, your arc flash, your flash fire. But yeah, again, it’s really important to try it on with your hard hat.

A lot of the head protection is specifically designed with that in mind, so it doesn’t detract from the protective value of a hard hat. A lot of the manufacturers like NSA, we do, do the tests, we do try them on, do trials to make sure that they are remaining safe.

Jamie: Thank you, Melissa. Suresh is asking, “You mentioned test reports. If I use your layering recommendation of the 4 layers, do I have to have the test data for all of those layers together?”

Melissa: That’s a great question. You should already be meeting your requirements through your daily wear. Typically, when we talk about the systems today, adding layers on additionally, people have already met their requirements. It could be through a combination of their regular daily wear and the base layer. If you’re layering those pieces to get to a certain level, then yes, you would need the arc test report for that.

But if you already met your requirements and you’re just adding your appropriate FR sweatshirt and your FR jacket over top, you don’t need a full test data for that. The only time you would need layer test data is if you’re actually looking to combine those garments to meet your hazard level that you need to meet. In this case, as long as you’re already good with your regular daily wear, there’s no need to have a test.

Jamie: Awesome. Thanks, Melissa. Are there any special considerations for the base layers when it comes to washing and laundering?

Will: Yes. I think that’s a very good question. It applies to FR base layers as well as you might buy for retail outdoor athletic use. Moisture-wicking, the technologies depend on the garment being clean.

I know that a lot of people like to put fabric softeners or other things in the wash when they wash their clothes. We definitely caution against fabric softeners for all FR. In the case of base layer technologies or any garment that has moisture-wicking properties, you shouldn’t use fabric softeners on those because of safety reasons but also that stops the moisture wicking process. So it may make a garment feel softer, but it definitely impacts its ability to do its main job and its second job.

Other than that, keeping it clean is the most important thing. So definitely wash it with a good quality detergent, and that should be all that you need to do.

Jamie: Great. Thank you, Will. Alright, let’s see here. Sara has a question. She says, “What about face protection? Are there special face shields for cold weather? Mine always fogs up in the cold.” Great question.

Melissa: Yeah, that’s a great question. The face shield technologies have really improved. We’re talking about arc shields, I’m assuming. The technology has improved specially, I mean, gosh, over the last 3 years, I would say, and there are a lot of highly-improved anti-fog coatings that do come standard on a lot of the newer face shields. These are going to be a lot better at reducing that fog. I would urge you to check out our website or call customer service for more information on that. But yes, I agree, if you’re looking at an older face shield, probably a lot of concern, but the newer technologies really help out in terms of fogging.

Jamie: Great, thanks Melissa. Alright. We just have one more question right here. If you do have a question, get it in. Now is definitely the time and the last chance. Jason asks, “You keep mentioning sports stores. Where can I purchase this type of base layer? Do you recommend not purchasing from the sport stores?”

Will: Where you buy FR base layers is not necessarily the big concern. There are retail local stores that supply FR clothing successfully all the time. The reason I mentioned the retail outlets is that the non-FR base layers are so readily available and are promoted at almost any store that your “Cabela’s-type" person will visit, so they will constant barrage of non-FR messaging saying, “Stay warm by wearing me.”

I do think that FR base layers are sold pretty widely on the internet and through managed program accounts through large and small distributors across the country, so I think they’re fairly easy to get. If you’re using someone now, I would make the request to them that you’re interested in this and get some more information. There are several choices and several performance levels, but all of the FR base layers are much better than you not having a base layer or having a non-compliant polyester or polypropylene base layer, which is what the guys are probably doing if it’s cold enough and the company that they work for doesn’t really have a clear message on that.

Jamie: Great. Thank you, Will. Alright, let’s see. A couple of comments, “Thank you, you have answered most of my questions.”

So I guess with that, we’ll conclude the Q&A portion. That really is the end of the webinar. Any final words, departing words, Will and Melissa?

Melissa: Yes. I just want to, again, thank everyone, thank Jamie, Safeopedia and the audience for joining us today. If you do have any questions, you can see our information up on the screen there, so please feel free to reach out if any of the concepts that we talked about today, if you want more information or actual products that go along with that, we’d be happy to help you. Yeah, thanks for joining us today.

Will: Thank you.

Jamie: Yeah, thank you both. We really want to thank Melissa and Will for putting together a great, educational presentation. Thanks to National Safety Apparel for making this happen. A special thanks, definitely, to the audience. Without you guys, none of this would be possible.

Let’s give a special shout-out to Heidi. She’s behind the scenes, but she works really hard, busts her butt to help put these kind of presentations on at National Safety Apparel. So thank you, Heidi.

With that, everyone, thanks again. Take care and stay safe.