Nomex FR Apparel Newsletter - Volume 5

Lessons from Lab Fire Accident Provide Solutions for Better Lab Safety

Historically, academic laboratories have proven to be challenging environments for safety programs. They can have high personnel turnover; a broad set of work conditions, risks and hazards; and be located across multiple geographic sites.

After the 2008 fire death of a lab technician, University of California (UC) embarked on a comprehensive program to overhaul lab safety. They teamed up with California-based consulting company Environmental & Occupational Risk Management, Inc. (EORM) to develop the Laboratory Hazard Assessment Tool (LHAT), a sustainable process for hazard assessment.

Lessons from Lab Fire Accident Provide Solutions for Better Lab Safety

The outcome of this process was sweeping change, including improved compliance to lab safety regulations and the creation of a new safety-centric culture focused on lab safety procedures and use of the most appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the identified hazards.

Details about the extensive process that UC undertook to improve lab safety are described in a case study titled: "The University of California System Improves Lab Safety with DuPont™ Nomex®."

Thermo-Man® Underscores the Importance of Using the Right PPE

Collaboration between DuPont, suppliers and end users resulted in a new technology and product offering that helps protect against the unique, multi-threats of both flame and chemical frequently found in a lab environment. Enter the Workrite® FR/CP lab coat.

This game-changing solution features DuPont™ Nomex® IIIA fabric for flame resistance (FR) and Westex® ShieldCXP™ for chemical-splash protection (CP). Although developed for lab workers, this latest innovation in PPE can offer benefits for applications in other fields.

To demonstrate the improved protection offered by Workrite® FR/CP lab coats made with Nomex® IIIA vs. typical 80/20 polyester/cotton blend lab coats, DuPont conducted burn tests using DuPont™ Thermo-Man®, the world's most advanced life-size thermal burn injury evaluation system.

To better simulate the lab environment, we adapted the standard protocol for Thermo-Man® testing by positioning one propane torch in front of Thermo-Man® at waist level to resemble a lab fire that could occur during the use of a Bunsen burner and flammable chemicals. In addition, the test was conducted for 2 seconds, which is less rigorous than the standard NFPA 2112 protocol.

As you can see in the video shown above, the new Workrite® FR/CP lab coat made with Nomex® IIIA:

  • Does not ignite, melt, drip or burn
  • Provides time to escape the emergency
  • Maintains a barrier between the fire, flammable street clothes and body (assumes that the lab technician is not wearing FR garments under the lab coat)
  • Insulates the wearer from heat, reducing the chance or severity of a body burn


In sharp contrast, the 80/20 polyester/cotton blend lab coat is highly susceptible to flames and quickly ignites and continues to rapidly burn.

Take the Next Step to Learn More

It's easy to learn more about the importance of the right PPE for lab safety and what applies to your work environment.

AIHce EXP2018 Philadelphia,PA | May 21-23If you are going to the American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition (AIHce EXP) in Philadelphia in May 2018, you can attend education session D11: How a Laboratory Fire Death Led to a New Safety Initiative.

During this education session, Caroline Holtzman, DuPont™ Nomex® FR Technical Leader; Craig Merlic, Ph.D., University of California, Davis; and Jeffrey Fackler, North America Business Development Director for the Thermal Solutions segment of DuPont will help attendees learn how to:

  • Design or complete a standardized hazard assessment
  • Define threats and product needs
  • Identify applicable standards and certifications
  • Evaluate existing commercial technologies and suppliers/manufacturers
  • Collaborate with suppliers/manufacturers to design unique or multi-purpose solutions
  • Design an implementation and procurement process


For more information about AIHce EXP, visit

Want to know more?

Stay in the know with Nomex®
Have questions?