What is arc flash PPE?
Arc rated personal protective equipment is designed to protect wearers from burn injuries that may be caused by an arc flash. Arc flash PPE and arc-rated clothing is tested by being exposed to an arc flash and is assigned an arc-rated, or its ATPV (article thermal performance value) based on this test. Arc flash PPE is then sorted into four CAT Levels per NFPA 70E (2018), 1-through-4 with two and four being the most common. Arc flash PPE can include anything from a shirt to jackets, coveralls, and hoods.
Arc flash PPE is meant to protect against burns caused by arc flashes. Arc rated gear won’t ignite, melt or drip and won’t contribute to additional injuries caused by the arc blast. All arc rated PPE is flame resistant, but not all FR clothing is arc-rated, which is why arc flash PPE is required to be worn when there is a risk of an arc flash and not just flame resistant clothing.
What is an arc flash suit?
An arc flash suit is the last line of defense for full body protection in an arc flash incident. Full arc flash suits and kits usually include a full coat and bib overalls, an arc flash hood or faceshield as well as voltage rated gloves. Arc flash suits can vary in arc thermal performance value (ATPV), which measures the incident energy that results in a 50% probability of a 2nd degree burn. Arc rated clothing, including suits, are given ratings based on the incident energy it can protect against, which is measured in calories/cm2 or cal/cm2.
Once arc flash suits are tested to meet standards such as NFPA 70E and CSA Z462, they are given an arc rating and sorted into PPE CAT levels from 1-to-4 based on incident energy analysis. CAT level 2 and 4 are the most common.
What is NFPA 70E?
NFPA 70E is a standard created by the National Fire Protection Association that covers electrical safety requirements in the work place as safeguards to job functions that expose workers to electrical risks. Those risks include arc flash hazards, electrical shock and high-voltage hazards. NFPA 70E covers procedures to accurately assess shock protection, arc flash incident energy ratings, lockout-tagout procedures and personal protective equipment standards.
NFPA 70E requirements for safe work practices to protect personnel by reducing exposure to major electrical hazards. Originally developed at OSHA's request, NFPA 70E helps companies and employees avoid workplace injuries and fatalities due to shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast, and assists in complying with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K.
Thumbs-Up Safety manufactures arc flash PPE that is NFPA 70E compliant that receives arc ratings by tests specific to the type of garment: ASTM F1506 (clothing), ASTM F1891 (rainwear), ASTM F2187 (hoods) and ASTM F2672 (arc flash blankets).
How to wash arc flash clothing
Arc flash clothing such as arc flash coats and bibs or coveralls should be machine washed in warm water. The temperature washed in will vary by type of garment. You should only use mild detergent when washing arc flash clothing. Always check the label of your arc flash clothing for proper laundering instructions.
◼ When washing arc flash clothing, you should NEVER use:
◼ Chlorine bleach or detergent containing bleach
◼ Hydrogen peroxide
◼ Fabric softeners or starch
◼ Do not line-dry in sunlight