In the offshore oil and gas industry, the processing of hydrocarbons presents an increased risk of fire during normal operations, consequently flame retardant (FR) clothing is worn during normal operations. During the inspection of an asbestos removal operation on a production platform it was noted that disposable non-FR coveralls were being worn whilst working in a hazardous area. There is a risk that trades such as asbestos removal and others wearing this type of coverall would not be protected in the event of an incident. The need for coveralls with FR properties did not appear to have been addressed. A project was initiated with the Health and Safety Laboratory to assess the effect of adding a disposable coverall over the top of a FR coverall with respect to flame spread. The reports main findings were:

  1. Disposable FR coveralls do not appear to adversely affect the protection offered by a non-disposable FR coverall when worn over the top.

  2. Any other combination of FR and non-FR coveralls does not appear to offer adequate protection, whether disposable or not.

  3. A disposable FR coverall on its own does not continue to burn, but it also does not offer any protection to the user. Use in this way would also contravene the manufacturer's instructions.

The study concluded that dual layers of coveralls (disposable worn over non-disposable) should not be worn in areas where flame retardant clothing is required unless BOTH coveralls are flame retardant; disposable FR coveralls should not be worn as the only means of protection and the manufacturer's instructions on how coveralls should be deployed should be followed at all times. Additionally, consideration needs to be given to decontamination/disposal of the FR coveralls in asbestos abatement situations.

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