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March 15, 2021
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Flammable Clothing – What are you Wearing?

Workers in many industries face potential exposure to fire, arc flash, and explosions. Some may work around flammable liquids, gases, vapors, combustible dust, or live energized conductors. Whenever working in environments with these types of hazards, remember to choose the right clothing.

Flammable Clothing Materials

The following clothing materials whether, by themselves or blended, are considered flammable:

  • Acetate.
  • Nylon.
  • Polyester.
  • Rayon.
  • Polypropylene.

Materials such as nylon and polyester burn slowly and melt causing molten residue. Acetate burns rapidly and is difficult to remove when melted on to another surface (i.e. skin). Avoid wearing clothing with these types of materials, where potential for fires, explosions, and arc flash exists.


Synthetic clothing on fire.

Cotton Clothing

One hundred percent cotton garments offer better protection than synthetic clothing or cotton and synthetic blends. However, cotton fabric can ignite and will continue to burn if exposed to an ignition source. This can result in serious burns.

Flame-Resistant (FR) Clothing

Flame-resistant refers to ability of a material to self-extinguish upon removal from an ignition source. The primary purpose of FR clothing is to resist ignition. If flammable clothing is ignited by an arc flash, flash fire, molten metal, etc., the clothing fire will last longer than the initial hazard and typically will burn the victim over a much larger surface area.

FR clothing limits burn injury to the surface area directly impacted by the hazards. FR clothing also insulates the wearer from the thermal hazard further reducing the possibility of second and third-degree burns.

Reference: Saner, Mark. Flammable Materials You Should Never Wear on the Job. Retrieved from

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Port Clinton, OH:, and content creator for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;

This Safety Tip of The Week was originally printed Dec. 4, 2017.



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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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