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A series of laboratory tests have shown that personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to offer fire resistance is improved by layering clothing.

According to the study, commissioned by Norwegian supplier Wenaas, layering protective clothing can offer workers the optimum protection from fire.

The manager of business development for the firm in the UK, Lee Taylor, said:

“The independent tests […] illustrate the vital difference to safety that correct layering can make […] it is literally a matter of saving lives.”

The latest innovations in flame-retardant materials ensure that protective clothing is breathable, comfortable and durable, in addition to offering protection. Developed in consultation with many workers and experts in the industry, the increasing demands of modern working are being met.

However, the recently completed study suggests that external garments are not where protection starts and finishes. Indeed, the performance of a worker's underwear could significantly affect how the body reacts to hot conditions.

For example, synthetic tops do not wick away moisture or body heat. Natural fibres, such as Merino wool, do however; this lessens the potential for skin damage, such as charring and boiling.

In the tests, wearing fire retardant overalls together with specially designed underwear reduced second and third-degree burning by up to 30%. Third-degree burns with 50% coverage represent a serious loss to life and extend recovery rates.

Taylor went on to say that there needs to be a greater education of workers and operators to ensure an improved 'emphasis' is placed on the importance of underwear.

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