When reading or hearing about flame-resistant clothing, you may frequently hear the terms “primary protection” and “secondary protection.” What exactly do these terms mean? Does secondary protection offer less safety than primary protection?
The real difference between these two designations lies in the clothing’s intended usage and the level of protection it offers as a result of this intended usage. The following is a brief breakdown of the two levels of protection.
1. PRIMARY PROTECTION
Primary protection refers to flame-resistant clothing that is designed to be worn during activities where the wearer will constantly be exposed to flames, radiant heat and potential molten substance splash. One easy example to point to is a firefighter’s gear. When out answering a call, the firefighter will be exposed to extreme conditions and will need the additional measures offered by primary protection gear.
2. SECONDARY PROTECTION
Secondary protection is designed for situations where the wearer may encounter exposure to intermittent hazards. This may still include radiant heat, molten substance splash and flames, but the odds are that these will not be constant hazards. Rather, they may appear briefly before disappearing again. In other words, the wearer of secondary protection is not likely to be in as much constant danger as the wearer of primary protection.