Speak to any industry professional and they will tell you that it is best practice to replace Arc Flash PPE at least every five years or sometimes even sooner than that. More specific items, such as face shields and balaclavas, should be replaced in line with the manufacturer’s recommendation – these can be found on the items themselves.
Where an item of PPE becomes damaged or begins to show significant signs of wear, it should be removed from service immediately and either repaired or replaced. Regularly inspecting the PPE for signs of damage, such as rips, tears and snags, helps to ensure workers stay safe and eliminates any potential entry points in the event of an Arc Flash.
How long does Arc Flash clothing last?
How much wear and tear a garment receives, has a direct an impact on how long it will last. Where an item of clothing is worn for several hours a day on a daily basis, you can expect that it will likely need to be replaced well before the recommended five years. If a garment is worn not as often, then it should last the full five years, providing it is well looked after and maintained.
If an item of Arc Flash clothing becomes stained or soiled, it will need to be washed on a high temperature in order to restore it to its former glory. Prior to washing a garment, it is advisable to always check the label first as it will give instructions on the best way of cleaning it. It is important to be aware when washing Arc Flash clothing that has been specially treated (as opposed to being made from inherently protective materials) that its washed in protection can deteriorate over time. This may result in an item of clothing that looks to be in perfect condition but provides the wearer with very little to no Arc Flash protection at all.
Can you repair arc rated clothing?
You should never attempt to repair arc rated clothing yourself. This is because the fabrics and components (e.g. press studs and buttons) used to make them are 100% inherent and flame resistant in the event of an arc flash incident. Using the type of sewing kit that you have at home to make repairs yourself would render the garment unsafe and unsuitable.
Clean and well maintained Arc Flash clothing ensures that the item remains as effective as possible in protecting the wearer from injury in the event of an Arc Flash incident. Also, where Arc flash clothing is shared between workers (we do not advise this), there is the potential for diseases or viruses to be transmitted, so in these instances, hygiene and maintenance is of utmost importance.