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What Does 1910.269 Say About Socks and Underwear?

OSHA’s 2014 1910.269 ruling marks a distinct departure from its predecessor. In fact, up until the new rule was promulgated, 1910.269 simply required that clothing “do no harm” in the event of an arc flash. In stark contrast, the 2014 ruling specifically requires employers to provide arc/flame resistant (FR) clothing for employees.

Employers must now make sure “each employee who is exposed to hazards from flames or electric arcs does not wear clothing that could melt onto his or her skin or that could ignite and continue to burn when exposed to flames or the heat energy estimated” (Paragraph (l)(8)(iii) of 29 CFR 1910.269).

While the updates made to OSHA 1910.269 are generally regarded as much-needed improvements to worker safety and are expected to save dozens of lives each year, the ruling also sparked some new questions.

For example, although OSHA declined to define FR clothing, it states in the new ruling that certain fabrics may not be worn—acetate, nylon, polyester, rayon, and polypropylene, either alone or in blends—“unless the employer demonstrates that the fabric has been treated to withstand the conditions that may be encountered by the employee or that the employee wears the clothing in such a manner as to eliminate the hazard.”

With these guidelines in mind, what types of socks and underwear may be worn, as many of these undergarments typically contain elastic?

Edison Electric Institute (EEI) brought this question, among others, to OSHA on behalf of its members as part of a recent lawsuit surrounding the new requirements. OSHA recently provided insight for employers as part an enforcement settlement between OSHA and EEI announced on February 13, 2015.

Here is OSHA’s response, as incorporated into the settlement agreement:

OSHA expects that clothing systems worn in accordance with the requirements of 29

CFR 1910.269(l)(8)(v) and 29 CFR 1926.960(g)(5) will ensure that elastic in underwear

and socks is not exposed to heat energy that would cause it to melt onto the employee’s

skin or ignite and continue to burn. OSHA notes, however, that underwear and socks

generally may not contain, alone or in blends, the prohibited fabrics listed in the notes to

29 CFR 1910.269(l)(8)(iii) and 29 CFR 1926.960(g)(3).

Still stumped on how to provide undergarments within these parameters?

Look for Tyndale’s exclusive FRMC® Antimicrobial Socks (F920T)! Made from inherently flame resistant fibers, these socks do not contain any of the prohibited fabric types and will not melt or ignite in the event of an arc flash or flash fire. Plus, they feature a half cushion for comfort, Made in USA quality, and antimicrobial fibers that inhibit odor-causing bacterial growth!

Tyndale also offers a variety of natural fiber socks and arc-rated/FR undergarments. Contact us today at 800-356-3433 or MarketingInfo@TyndaleUSA.com.

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