3 signs your Arc Flash PPE isn't suitable for the project
Arc Flash Clothing is a dedicated form of personal protective equipment that’s designed to minimise injury during an arc fault. The question is… are yours?
Here are 3 signs your Arc Flash PPE may not be offering the protection you need.
1. Your Arc Flash PPE fails to meet standards
One of the most important aspects to check is that your Arc Flash PPE has been manufactured in a way that allows it to do its job. Ideally, Arc Flash Clothing should meet the UK EN 61482-1-2 standard (alternatively, clothing manufactured to the EU IEC 61482-2 standard is also fine), which shows the clothing is designed to reduce thermal risk. Cheap Non Arc FR garments that fail to meet standards create a false economy. Not only does it put wearers at risk as they aren't protected, but also results in a need to replace equipment at a quicker rate.
2. Garments do not meet the demands of the environment.
One of the most important aspects to remember when it comes to Arc Flash PPE is that some garments are up to the task in certain environments, but not in others. Always check the Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV) against the risk identified for your workplace. The ATPV is usually noted on the garment’s certification label or the garment exterior. Ideally, to ensure your PPE can handle the level of risk in your environment, the ATPV rating should be higher than the calculated Incident Energy determined when your risk assessment was undertaken.
3. Materials are deteriorating
While Arc Flash PPE is designed and manufactured to a very high standard, the wearability will deteriorate over time (e.g rips, snags). It is important for the wearer to conduct a brief inspection of the garment each and every time they put it on, checking out the condition of the fabric. Small holes, loose threads, and minor fraying may not be urgent considerations with everyday clothing, with Arc Flash these tiny flaws can make a huge difference to how well the garment is able to protect the wearer during an Arc Fault.
4. Arc PPE doesn't fit
One size does not fit all. Arc Flash Clothing can tick all the right boxes, yet still fail to do its job correctly if it isn’t a good fit for the wearer. This means that PPE may be up to the task when worn by one person, but not when worn by another. In order for Arc Flash PPE to really be up to the task, it needs to be slightly loose on the wearer, with a small gap between the material and the skin which adds an extra layer of protection. If clothing feels tight against the skin, it is best to select a larger size to ensure your on-site safety. See here how to measure yourself for Arc Flash Clothing.
Whose responsibility is Arc Flash PPE?
It is the responsibility of HSE Management to provide suitable Protective Clothing for their employees. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the wearer to regularly inspect their equipment, and report concerns.
This means that there is a shared responsibility to ensure that Arc Flash garments are up to the task, and that both employers and employees should be monitoring PPE continually to minimise risk in the workplace.