Why wear Arc Flash Base Layers

Why wear Arc Flash Base Layers

It's Anthony Long from STRATA® Protection, the FR and Arc Clothing arm of Skanwear®. I'm here to talk to you about the benefits of underwear or Arc Flash Base Layers. Not the underwear that you may be thinking of, but this is industrial underwear for everyday working conditions to protect you in terms of a number of things, both protecting you from heat, protecting you over-heating, and keeping your body climate the right temperature. 

How Base Layers can manage your body temperature at work

[video version] 

The benefit of the right underwear in terms of this article that I'm wearing now, is merino wool and FR Lenzing fibres [click here to see product. The outside is Merino Wool, the inside is Lenzing FR. Lenzing FR has fantastic wicking properties, so it very, very quickly wicks sweat away from the body, away from the skin, but also is very, very super soft. So when it's next to the skin, it feels very soft, it doesn't feel itchy at all. People associate wool with something that's kind of itchy. This fabric here is as far removed from itchy as you can possibly get, very soft and comfortable. It's wicking sweat from my body.

The outside is Merino Wool, here's a quick statistic;

Merino Wool absorbs 35% of its weight in moisture

which is a phenomenal amount, which is why wool is such a complex but great fibre that man has actually never managed to fully replicate in the history of time.

So the obvious thing we've got here, is we've got a climate system going on with underwear that I'm now wearing. So, if I was to do a lot of exercise, your body automatically starts to perspire, the perspiration is then wicked away from your body by the Lenzing fibre, it's absorbed on the outside like a sponge by the merino wool, and this in turn then keeps your body dry.

As soon as sweat or perspiration leaves your body, it gets to the surface of the skin, it stays there and it starts to cool, because it's a liquid, liquid cools very, very quickly, very easily. It starts to cool, your body then feels cool, you automatically then start to try and generate more heat.

Imagine your body as a central heating system; it's cold, the thermostat tells it to put the heating on, the body heats up, it produces more sweat and you end up with a very, very vicious circle where your body is heating up, cooling down, heating up, cooling down, and the clothing isn't aiding that at all.

With this kind of clothing, your body is breathing naturally, the sweat is being perspired out of your body, it's getting transferred from your body to the outside of these garments. If I've been doing a lot of physical work I'll be able to wipe this top here, my hands will be damp, but inside will still be dry; which is what you want when you're working.

Regardless the condition you're working, regardless the heat you're working in, this will always work. So people talk about thermal underwear; thermal underwear is generally specifically designed for keeping you warm; this one will not only keep you warm, it will also keep you cool. So it has a dual purpose function, but the main thing is, it keeps you dry.

How Base Layers can protect you from an Arc Flash

The second side of this underwear protection is for Arc Flash and Flame Retardant Protection. So this is Flame retardant, it's got an Open Arc Rating; for an open arc rating in cal, I think it's 6.3 cal/cm2. It's Class 1 Arc Rated, it's fully FR as well. Now the benefit of this here, is that when it's used underneath another FR, or particularly Arc Flash garment, now we're going to focus on that for this moment in time, it's going to provide an extra insulation layer.

So you may have heard the fact that distance is your friend in terms of Arc Flash Protection, and you may have also heard about the fact of having air gaps. This not only provides you with an air gap, it also provides you with a thermal insulation barrier, of which wool is also a very, very good thermal insulation barrier between the outer garment and your skin.

So when the outer garment is exposed to Arc Flash, the outer garment will heat up, the heat transmits to the inside, the outside may even break open depending on the intensity of the Arc Flash, the inside then, is then designed to protect the skin further in terms of providing a very, very good insulating barrier to stop that heat passing through, transmitting to the body, and obviously causing the likelihood of secondary burn.

So whatever Arc Flash Clothing you're wearing, whenever you wear an undergarment, such as this one I'm wearing now, underneath that, it's providing you with a really, really impressive thermal barrier to stop the heat passing through that garment, and obviously onto the skin of you, the wearer.

So its two functions are; the climate management of a person when they're working, but also the fantastic insulation it gives you in terms of protecting you from Arc Flash, but also it applies to heat and flame.

I hope that's helped you today, these types of garments are available in both onesie tops like I have on here today, they're also available as long-johns, commonly known as leggings, they're also available as boxer shorts, there's other areas available in that place too. We also have a specific ladies wear range which will be talked about in the next series on this underwear section.

Click here to see our full collection of Arc Flash Base Layers.  

Next article 3 signs your Arc Flash PPE isn't suitable for the project

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