No matter where you work or what task you do, base layers play an important role when it comes to comfort and safety.
The right materials can provide additional warmth and keep you dry in cold environments, and specific fabrics can protect you against certain hazards, such as arc flashes.
Liners and base layers have come a long way over the last 100 years.
Since every work environment has its potential dangers, it is highly recommended to conduct a proper hazard assessment to make the right decision in choosing your base layer. Do you work in warm conditions? Extremely cold temperatures? Could you be exposed to arc flashes?
If you Work in Hot and Humid Environments
In hot and humid environments, hot weather layers are designed to maintain comfort, even in the warmest conditions. The latest high-tech FR fabric acts to draw away sweat and moisture from your skin while allowing it to evaporate from under your shirt. These base layers will keep you dry and help maintain an optimum body temperature all day.
This is just one of the ways base layers made with innovative AR/FR fabric blends can enhance the overall wear experience. AR/FR base layers, as with all daily wear garments, no longer need to bear the hallmarks of stiff, uncomfortable work clothing. 1
If you Work in Cold Environments
When it comes to choosing the right base layer for a cold environment, you need to take into account the material. Good cold-weather base layers are usually made from merino, silk or synthetic materials.
Merino wool is a natural fabric that is not itchy, and great for almost every kind of weather conditions. This material can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water, meaning it’ll take time before you start to feel wet, and when it does get wet, it will still keep you warm. It does a great job of wicking away moisture and is naturally antimicrobial and odor-resistant.
Nylon, polyester, Spandex, or rayon all are popular choices of material for base layers. On the plus side: they feel comfortable and soft against the skin, they’re great at wicking away moisture, and they dry quickly. On the downside: they aren’t as great in terms of odor resistance as merino, and can be potentially dangerous when exposed to high temperatures in arc flash or flash fire incidents.
If you Need Arc Flash Protection
You’ll often find base layers that are made from fabrics such as nylon, polyester, or Spandex. Unfortunately, even under AR/FR garments, these textiles could potentially harm the wearer since they can melt on the worker’s skin when exposed to extreme temperatures. Polyester base layers should not be worn in any environment where there is a risk of electrical fire or arc flashes since the material can act as a fuel to any fire, and could burn its wearer.
A key function of the latest AR/FR fabrics is that they will not only self-extinguish when a thermal source, like a flame, is removed, they will also provide some insulation from the heat source to help reduce second- and third-degree body burns. Advances in AR/FR fabric technology go a long way to creating AR/FR base layer garments that enhance comfort and performance—and workers of all ages in daily wear programs benefit greatly from these improvements.2
1 Scott Francis, Sep 01, 2019. “Three Benefits of Using AR/FR Base Layers for Arc Flash Protection.” Occupational Health & Safety, ohsonline.com/Articles/2019/09/01/Three-Benefits-of-Using-ARFR-Base-Layers-for-Arc-Flash-Protection.aspx.
2 Scott Francis, Sep 01, 2019. “Three Benefits of Using AR/FR Base Layers for Arc Flash Protection.” Occupational Health & Safety, ohsonline.com/Articles/2019/09/01/Three-Benefits-of-Using-ARFR-Base-Layers-for-Arc-Flash-Protection.aspx.