What’s the difference between Flame Resistant and Arc rated clothing?

What’s the difference between Flame Resistant and Arc rated clothing?

Arc rated clothing vs Flame Resistant garments

It’s a question we’re asked on a regular basis – what is the difference between Flame Resistant garments and Arc Flash rated clothing, and does it matter?

The short answer is yes; it matters a great deal and there is a fundamental difference between the two categories that it’s important to be aware of.

Put simply, Arc rated clothing is Flame Resistant, but Flame Resistant clothing does not always offer Arc Flash protection. That’s why it’s incredibly important to understand the capabilities of each garment you purchase and the different ways it protects you and your team. 

Flame Resistant standards in the UK

In the UK, flame resistance is measured by two key standards – EN ISO 11612:2008 and EN ISO 14116:2008.

It is important to note that neither of these standards deals with sustained exposure to heat and flame, they form part of your team’s protection against bursts of energy and are measured in relation to their ability to deal with limited flame spread. Clothing that conforms to these EN standards is deemed to be Flame Resistant.

The requirements for Arc rated clothing

Arc rated clothing is altogether more complex. It is governed by IEC 61482, which is applicable to protective clothing used in environments where there is a risk of Arc Flash.

Arc rated garments are designed to provide protection from Arc Flash incidents and are tested to either the Open Arc Test Method or the Box Test Method to ensure their compliance with IEC 61482.

One of the key elements of an Arc Flash fire incident is exposure to intense heat. That’s why, as a matter of course, all Arc rated clothing must be Flame Resistant as standard.

Understanding care labels on Arc Flash rated clothing

There can be a lot of misinformation around the capabilities of specific garments. Much of this comes down to genuine confusion. However, where your team’s safety is concerned, you can’t afford confusion. Knowing your terminology is key, and so is clear labelling of the protective clothing you purchase.

At ProGARM, we take our commitment to clear and concise labelling extremely seriously. We know the hazards end users face on a daily basis and that they need to be effectively equipped to deal with them. Our labelling system not only includes all the required information about the garments you’re purchasing, but also displays it in a clear style that allows no room for misinterpretation. The SafetyICON marking system utilised across our range of clothing means you can tell at a glance whether a garment offers Arc Flash protection or not.

We’re also proud of the level of information we supply on our care labels. A typical label will include details of the EN Standards to which the garment conforms, allowing wearers to see exactly how protected they are when undertaking specific tasks. We’re also committed to traceability within our supply chain, so every garment contains a batch number that can determine the origins of fabrics and so forth.

We know that misinformation costs lives. It’s important to recognise the distinction between Flame Resistant and Arc rated clothing. If you’re still unsure, just ask! We’ll be happy to advise.