Welding – Flame retardant clothing Legislative Interpretations

Topic: Welding – Flame retardant clothing Issued by: V.P., WorkSafe Services
Statute: General Regulation 91-191 Date Issued: September 8, 1997
Section: 276 Date Revised: August 18, 2023


How does WorkSafeNB define flame-retardant clothing and material offering equivalent protection?


Flame retardant work clothing

The intent of section 276 is to ensure workers wear protective equipment appropriate for the task they are performing. The concern when welding, cutting, burning, or soldering is the generation of sparks which could result in burns.

Flame-retardant clothing can resist ignition and will self-extinguish if ignited, which will reduce burn injuries to the worker. Such clothing is available on the market and should be preferentially selected and worn. As an alternative, opting for material of 100% natural fibre, such as wool, should be preferred to cotton as it is less ignitable. Consideration should be given to heavy, tight weave fabrics as it will not burn as easily as a light and loose weave fabric of the same material. Workers should avoid clothing made of synthetic fibres, which can burst into flames or melt on the skin when exposed to sparks.

Materials offering equivalent protection

Leather is frequently used in the welding trade. In the past, asbestos aprons were also used because of the excellent flame-retardant qualities. However, asbestos is no longer recommended because of the health issues associated with it.

WorkSafeNB has not formally defined an acceptable equivalent to leather, but other materials are not precluded from use if they are flame-retardant, do not tend to hold sparks and do not pose other health and safety concerns. The information provided by the supplier or manufacturer should confirm whether the alternative product provides equal or better protection.


Does section 276(b) only apply to body coverings exposed to the hazard?


Yes, it does. The intention of section 276(b) is to protect the employee engaged in welding, cutting, burning or soldering from radiation, ignition, electric shock and trapping of sparks by the flame-retardant clothing. An employee may have flame-retardant outerwear (coveralls, coats) and the clothing underneath does not need to be flame-retardant. Similarly, flame-retardant clothing does not require the employee’s undergarment to be flame-retardant.

Referenced legislation

276 An employer shall ensure that an employee engaged in a welding, cutting, burning or soldering operation wears, and an employee engaged in such an operation shall wear, appropriate protective equipment except that:

(a) the protective gloves required by paragraph 42(a) shall be leather gauntlet type gloves with arm protection, and
(b) the adequate body covering required by paragraph 42(c) shall be flame retardant work clothing and an apron of leather or of other material offering equivalent protection.

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