Arc flash protective clothing is critically important in keeping electrical workers safe from dangerous arc flash accidents. An unavoidable safety issue for electrical workers, an arc flash is an electrical current that is passed through air when insulation or isolation between electrified conductors is no longer sufficient to withstand the applied voltage.
Compliance standards for arc flash protective garments
Arc flash protective clothing should only be sourced from experienced manufacturers who have invested in independent testing of their garment systems. NFPA 70E is the most widely adopted standard, which provides the guidelines on HRC ratings that protective clothing should meet. The protective clothing should then be tested to two standards:
- Hoods and face shields: ASTM F2178-08 Standard Test Method for Determining the Arc Rating and Standard Specification for Eye or Face Protective Products
- Garments: ASTM F2621-06 Standard Practice for Determining Response Characteristics and Design Integrity of Arc Rated Finished Products in an Electric Arc Exposure
Anthony Elliott, Managing Director of Elliotts explains that there is more to an arc flash hood or garment than the fabric or fabric systems used. Some manufacturers will use data provided by fabric manufacturers to make claims about the protective performance of their garments.
According to Mr Elliott, all their garments are researched and tested to ensure that the right seams, sewing thread, closures, overlaps of closures and other important areas, embroidery and logos and reflective trim pass the required standards.
Arc flash protective clothing can be the difference between life and death and requires independent testing by a qualified testing organisation.
Elliotts has sent over 120 hoods and garments to the High Current Laboratory of Kinectrics in Canada where the hoods have been tested to ASTM F2178 and garments to ASTM F2621-06. This testing by an independent third party provides the wearer with the confidence that the hood or garment will provide the protection required in an arc flash event. Elliotts’ ArcSafe range includes jackets, trousers, coats, leggings and hoods.
Elliotts ArcSafe systems include:
- W89 Series made from Walls FR 88/12 Cotton/Nylon with an HRC4 rating and ATPV of 89
- W45 Series made from Walls FR 88/12 Cotton/Nylon with an HRC4 rating and ATPV of 45
- T40 Series made from TecaSafe Plus fabrics with an HRC4 rating and ATPV of 40
- Ensure the clothing system has the level of arc rating to meet arc flash hazard assessment levels
- Ensure that arc flash safety apparel is independently tested
- Ensure all components of the suit including the hood, jacket/trouser or coat/legging have the same ATPV rating
- Ensure all closures are securely fastened
- Ensure that the pant legs (if not connected to boots) completely go down to the boot
- Ensure that the sleeves of the protective workwear go down to the hand, leaving no part of the arm exposed
- Ensure that no skin is exposed