Proper protection starts with a flame resistant clothing supplier that has the industry knowledge and experience to provide you the correct quality products. However, what to look for in a FR clothing supplier is based on a number of additional factors, including: price, quality, performance and overall value.
FRC is the last line of defense, and its primary function is to protect workers in the event of accidental exposure. What most companies don’t consider is that FRC does more than protect your employees; it can protect the company as a whole as well. The cost of one serious burn injury can be significant – often exceeding the cost of an entire FR program.
After identifying the hazards your workers face and conducting your hazard assessment, you can review the applicable standards for your hazard to determine the appropriate clothing and level of protection needed. To be effective, a protective clothing program must not only ensure proper selection based on the hazard, but also address cost and care of the garment as well as employee comfort.
What you need to know is that you can rely on your FRC manufacturer, supplier and program manager to do their job while you do yours. In this upcoming series, we will outline five key points you should address when selecting an FRC supplier:
1. Experience and Expertise
Consider the supplier’s current customers and reference list to gauge their experience, expertise and credibility. What is their retention rate? How big is the supplier – do they have the capacity and capabilities in place to handle new accounts, both small and large? The right supplier will be able to help you understand the best products for your specific hazard to meet your protective needs and budgetary requirements.
2. Products and Programs Offered
If your workers need protection, it’s important to know that your budget will be respected and enforced. Understand that products and programs initially perceived as being the “cheapest” or most cost-effective solutions in the short-term can end up being more costly in the long run. What is a supplier’s product mix and do they have the technology to customize programs to meet different companies’ needs? Be sure to consider products that will last and suppliers that are not only flexible, but whose services also save your company time, money and headaches.
3. Inventory and Manufacturer Relationship
Not all FR is created equal. Do you know where your FR clothing comes from, how it’s manufactured, or how the supplier assures quality? Suppliers should be able to compete in the marketplace by offering a variety of garments that provide different levels of protection, comfort and durability. Additionally, in today’s economy, it’s more important than ever to support companies that are doing their part to keep jobs in America. Diverse companies, such as minority-owned or women-owned businesses, also positively impact on our economy. However, buying Made in USA products or sourcing a diverse supplier doesn’t necessarily equal more cost.
4. Purchasing Process
Know what terms and conditions you’re agreeing to, as well as length and exclusivity of the contract you are signing. Consider how often your company – and employees – could experience price increases on their FR clothing. A supplier’s quality control and assurance process will ultimately affect your bottom line and impact how frequently your company, and employees, are spending money on new or replacement garments. Select a provider that can get your employees the apparel they need, when they need it, and at a price your company is willing to pay.
5. Program Administration and Management
Choose a company that has support available and will give you the individualized attention needed to ensure your program runs smoothly. When you have a question or issue, will you deal with an employee you recognize who is also familiar with the details of your program? Know where the supplier’s team is located, including their customer service and account management teams. The supplier you choose should be providing support that allows you to concentrate on larger issues and your professional priorities.
Implementing an FR clothing program can be complex and your employees will trust these products with their lives. With so much that needs to be taken into consideration, we are here to help simplify what to look for and answer some basic questions. Protection afforded by FRC is too great to manage without a good understanding of all of these factors.
Stayed tuned for the first post in this series, How to Evaluate the Expertise and Experience of an FRC Clothing Supplier.