From: Russell Vernon <russell.vernon**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Use of fire resistant lab coat
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:43:03 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: BE28425130279043A5B92A2BC7116E23203BEB51**At_Symbol_Here**

Milliken_Bulwark provided a webinar on comfort of flame resistant wear in 2012 which I found very informative.
I looked on Bulwark's website but didn't see the exact presentation. These are informative: -Russ
I send you the 2012 pdf of the presentation if you're interested

Russell Vernon, Ph.D.
Environmental Health & Safety
University of California, Riverside
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-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Ken Fivizzani
Sent: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 12:28 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Use of fire resistant lab coat

My comments reflect my industrial background. The discussion on this question has been very good. Contributors have pointed out the distinction between fire resistant lab coats that have been treated with a fire resistant chemical (there has been some controversy about how well such chemicals work, but that's another question) and Nomex which is a material that itself is fire resistant.

One important issue that has been mentioned by others is the process of how (if they are) the lab coats are cleaned. The service provider that does this must know how to clean lab coats. It has been mentioned that cleaning treated lab coats will remove some of the flame resistant chemical, thus decreasing the effectiveness of the coat's flame resistance. If flame resistant lab coats, treated or Nomex, are washed or dried with other materials, fibers from those other materials can become embedded in the lab coat, reducing its flame resistance. If your strategy might be to include lab coats with other items you send out for laundering, or if you are thinking of allowing students to wash their lab coats on their own (not a good idea on fundamental principals of lab safety), the problem of combustible fibers embedded in the lab coats can be significant.

Regarding Nomex coats, these are often required at refineries, at least in areas where exposure to flammable materials is possible. My colleagues working in Nalco's Energy Services Group routinely had to wear them when visiting refineries. Their continuing concern about Nomex is that such coats are heavy and uncomfortable to wear. These lab coats are "hot in the summer and cold in the winter." The fact that it was company policy to wear them whenever required at a company site or a customer site meant that compliance was required. But my colleagues often mentioned the discomfort as the first part of any discussion about Nomex as a fire protection piece of equipment. I would recommend against requiring anyone to wear a Nomex coat unless the hazards of the job or the location require it.

Repeating the comments made by others in this discussion, design your lab coat policy to match your hazards. If your students do not work with flammable materials, then the lab coat does not need to be flame resistant.
For students working with flammable materials or in labs where others might be working with flammable materials, you might establish a different policy.
With respect to graduate students, postdocs, and permanent lab staff who all may use flammable materials some of the time, it is reasonable to require them to own more than one type of lab coat. We use different gloves for different hazards; we can do the same for lab coats.

One final comment of a somewhat nitpicking nature. If I understand the circumstances correctly, the reason Cal/OSHA focused on lab coats as necessary PPE for protection when working with flammable, especially pyrophoric, materials was that Ms. Sangji was wearing a polyester top that presumably would catch fire readily, increasing the extent and severity of her injuries. Lab coats made from less combustible or non-combustible materials would provide a barrier of prevention to the worker. My concern is that sometime in the future, some of our purchasing agents are going to substitute 100% polyester lab coats in their purchasing agreements with suppliers, because they will be cheaper than the lab coats currently in use.
Wearing a polyester lab coat over a polyester top does not significant diminish the hazard for someone working with pyrophoric materials.

Ken Fivizzani

-----Original Message-----
From: Ralph B. Stuart
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2014 11:23 AM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Use of fire resistant lab coat

A question I'm wondering about as we as a professional community consider the aftermath of the UCLA lab fire and its legal follow up is whether there is a reason beyond finances to not use fire resistant lab coats in the lab setting. I recognize that both the initial and maintenance costs associated with fire resistant coats are significantly higher than alternatives, but I wonder if there are other disadvantages associated with their use.

Thanks for any information about this.

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH CCHO
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Department of Environmental Health and Safety Cornell University Ithaca, NY 14850


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