The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has long set the standards for fire prevention and protection for workers engaged in hazardous industrial occupations where the possibility of a fire is ever present. There are two standards that safety professionals refer to when selecting proper flame resistant PPE for their organizations. Surprisingly though one number can make a big difference and there is often confusion among professionals on which standard is the most appropriate to provide the right level of protection.
To understand the importance of selecting the right NFPA standard to follow one needs to recognize the differences between the two standards.
NFPA 2112: “Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire” – this standard provides minimum performance specification that garments must achieve in order to be considered flame resistant and does not account for workplace conditions that safety professionals need to consider when determining PPE needed within a particular industrial setting. The exposure time to qualify as PPE under this standard is 3 seconds at a maximum of 50 percent body burn or less to be compliant.
NFPA 2113: “Standard on Selection, Care, Use and Maintenance of Flame Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel against Flash Fire” --this standard is by far more in depth and covers the four critical areas of criteria needing attention when determining the personal protective equipment employees should wear.
In 2010 OSHA issued a memo on providing proper flame-resistant clothing compliant with flash fires lasting up to five seconds; an additional two seconds more than what NFPA 2112 is tested and approved for. NFPA 2113 covers four critical areas to help guide professionals in selecting proper PPE, and emphasizes the importance of hazard assessment. Both OSHA and NFPA agree that worker exposure times will be dependent on fire duration and heat intensity based on site specific conditions. That’s exactly why OSHA has cited NFPA 2113 as the national consensus standard that provides clear guidelines to assist with all four criteria set by the standard to select PPE that offers maximum protection against assessed hazards over a range of exposure times.