Some engineers may think that as long as they’re wearing the correct level of arc-rated PPE, they are protected from being injured in the event of an Arc Flash occurring, but that is not always true. How a worker wears their PPE and what it’s worn with can affect the integrity of it dramatically.
How to wear Arc Flash Clothing and PPE
Regardless of how hot it gets whilst working or how ill-fitting arc-rated garment are, they should never be tampered with so that they leave any part of your body exposed. So rolling up your sleeves or undoing a few buttons is a big no-no. This is particularly true for your hands and arms as these body parts are likely to be closest to the energized components during an Arc Flash incident, and so will experience the highest temperatures, resulting in serious harm. Ensuring that all items of PPE fit correctly will prevent this from happening.
If wearing an arc-rated shirt for example, always ensure that it is properly tucked into your trousers, as an untucked shirt can exposure bare skin to heat, flames, and / or pressure from an Arc Flash. It is important to ensure that shirttails are long enough so that they can be tucked in and stay in whilst working.
What to wear with Arc Flash Clothing and PPE
Wearing the wrong type of clothing during an Arc Flash can actually make the situation worse and cause more harm than if you were wearing nothing at all. Non-arc rated synthetics, for instance, such as polyester and nylon, have the potential to melt to your skin when exposed to the extreme heat of an Arc Flash incident.
You should never wear anything that is metallic, i.e. rings, buckles, jewellery etc. Not only are these things great conductors for electricity, but they are also conductors of heat. During an arc flash, it has been known for metal belt buckles to burn holes into worker’s stomachs.