Extreme heat can be dangerous for workers who are required to wear flame resistant (FR) garments. FR clothing serves a critical safety function, and that unique construction leaves little room for optimized comfort and breathability. UniFirst understands that our customers value both safety compliance and comfort, and that’s why we outfit workers in garments that beat the heat without compromising utility and safety.
Heat exhaustion can progress rapidly from symptoms such as loss of concentration, nausea, fainting, and even death if not treated immediately. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), thousands of workers in the U.S. become sick each year from occupational heat exposure, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600 people die each year from heat-related illnesses.
One way to help combat heat exposure is by providing workers with compliant FR options that can keep them cool without compromising safety. UniFirst’s line of Bulwark® iQ Series® FR safety apparel is a compliant and comfortable FR workwear solution that can help keep your teams safe and productive on the job—even in peak heat months.
UniFirst recommends the following safety tips for FR wearers in warm weather:
Stay cool with breathable FR garments :Look for protective garments that are breathable. At-risk workers should seek out workwear that combines the highest level of protection with lightweight fabrics that are breathable and moisture conductive. Our uniform experts can customize a rental program that includes Bulwark® iQ Series® FR safety apparel, including shirts, pants, and coveralls. Bulwark IQ offers greater breathability to keep employees cool and safe on the job without compromising safety. The accompanying EVOLV™ fabric from TenCate® utilizes a blend of aramid, lyocell, and modacrylic fibers, providing an easy-care alternative to traditional FR fabrics in an ultra-lightweight, soft, breathable construction that is equal parts comfort and protection.To view our entire collection of lightweight FR garments, click here.
Cover up and roll down :FR garments must be worn properly to maintain maximum protection no matter how tempting it may be to roll up your sleeves in the heat. Keep your sleeves rolled down for maximum protection and compliance. Wearing long sleeves will also help protect your skin against sun exposure.
Provide proper care for your FR garments :Moisture wicking fabric used in construction of breathable FR garments will soak up the sweat. So proper laundering is important. Leave the professional laundering to UniFirst through our fully managed uniform rental service programs, including industrial laundering, so you can be assured that your FR garments will continue to perform at their best and maintain their protective qualities. UniFirst uses only the detergents and washing procedures that are recommended for FR garments. If you do self-launder, do not use bleach, peroxide, or fabric softener, and be careful not to over-dry.
Rest, rehydrate, repeat :Wearing FR or not, take plenty of breaks in cool areas during peak daytime temps, and make sure to stay hydrated. It’s important that workers take regular breaks and drink water often while performing their jobs in the extreme heat, especially when working outdoors and even before you feel thirsty.Depending on the heat, there will be instances where water still may not be enough to keep outside workers hydrated. Products like the Sqwincher Zero Qwik Stik and Sqwincher Beverage Enhancer, available through UniFirst First Aid + Safety, provide the necessary electrolytes to help keep workers safe, hydrated, and productive.
Educate your team :In order to optimize your team’s safety, it’s important to educate all workers on the risks of Heat Stress. UniFirst First Aid + Safety has programs that focus on general Heat Stress and Heat Stress in Construction Environments.These programs review how heat affects the body, the steps employees can take to prevent heat stress, and elementary first aid that can be given to a worker who has been affected by a heat-related illness. These lessons could greatly reduce the risks accompanied with outdoor work.
Be a team player :Be sure to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses in yourself and your co-workers. You play a key role in keeping yourself and your co-workers safe, and you should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses as their onset could occur, and worsen, rapidly.
Although working in warm weather poses many challenges, even more so if FR is required, following these tips and participating in a managed employee uniform program can help businesses protect their workers from extreme heat so they are able to stay safe and productive on the job. Get started by contacting a UniFirst representative today.