Fiber producers rework FR barriers in light of new OSHA regulations | Jones Family of Companies | Yarn & Fiber

Fiber producers rework FR barriers in light of new OSHA regulations | News & Updates

Fiber producers rework FR barriers in light of new OSHA regulations

Fiber producers rework FR barriers in light of new OSHA regulations

FAIR WARNING The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hazard Communication Standard requires pictograms on labels to alert users to the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed. Each pictogram consists of a warning symbol on a white background framed within a red border.

Cotton treated with boric acid—once a popular FR barrier solution for mattresses—has been phased out of most sleep products during the past year as a result of new guidelines adopted by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

Beginning June 1, 2015, OSHA implemented new hazardous chemical labeling requirements that call for materials containing boric acid to be labeled with a warning pictogram prior to being shipped from a supplier to a workplace. OSHA adopted the requirements to bring its protocols into alignment with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classifi cation and Labeling of Chemicals, which lists boric acid as a hazardous material. Shipments of products containing a specifi ed level of boric acid are required to carry a “health hazard” label with the image of an exploding heart and warning language in an eff ort to protect workers. 

As a result of this change, companies such as Jones Fiber Products, whose line had included a number of boric acid-treated FR fabric barriers, have dropped these products in favor of other constructions that don’t require this type of labeling.

“Boric acid has been in use by the industry for many decades and has long been proven to be safe,” says Kenny Oliver, president of the Humboldt, Tennessee-based supplier. “It underwent rigorous testing in the early 1970s when CFR 1632 was passed and again in the mid- 2000s when CFR 1633 went into eff ect. There were a lot of questions about product safety at both points in time and, through research and analysis, those questions were all answered.”

Despite boric acid’s proven safety, Jones Fiber opted to develop products that don’t use the chemical. The new line features a proprietary combination of untreated cotton and other fi bers. Cotton is an eff ective insulator and thermal barrier, Oliver says, and when blended properly with certain other fi bers, provides “excellent char strength” that aids in preventing oxygen from reaching the combustible components inside the mattress cavity. 

“We started developing this product several years ago,” he says. “We knew we better have a plan on the shelf because, despite the strong science, there were still some detractors on the boric acid issue.” Jones has transitioned nearly all of its customers to its new barrier products, with the exception of a few small producers that prefer to continue using boric acid-treated cotton. “In that case, our shipments carry the OSHA-mandated label,” Oliver says. 

To help business partners stay on top of the issue of chemical safety, Jones Fiber is “constantly educating our customers and their customers,” Oliver says. “We want them to know what’s out there, what’s going on, what’s proper and what’s not.”

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