Written by Steve Hudgik
Your arc flash gear, also known as person protective equipment (PPE), is the final protection you have against injury from an arc flash. Your arc flash gear can range from a natural fiber shirt, long pants, safety gloves, hearing protection and heavy duty leather gloves, to a full arc flash suit. It may include an arc flash rated jacket and hood. You may need arc flash and flame resistant gear that is also rain resistant. The gear needs to match the situation.
Typically the greater the hazard the more heavy-duty the arc flash gear becomes. However, assuming more is better is not a good assumption. Arc flash gear can be cumbersome and difficult to work in. The goal is to have the right gear for the situation.
NFPA 70E 2012 article 130.5(B) states:
"Protective Clothing and Other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Application with an Arc Flash Hazard Analysis. Where it has been determined that work will be performed within the arc flash boundary, one of the following methods shall be used for the selection of protective clothing and other personal protective equipment (PPE)."
Two methods are listed:
The tables are the simplest method used to determine the risk category for various tasks and equipment. These two tables also specify whether rubber insulating gloves are required, and if insulated and insulating hand tools are required.
The article in NFPA 70E that covers the details about arc flash gear is article 130.7. Section (A) states:
"General. Employees working in areas where electrical hazards are present shall be provided with, and shall use, protective equipment that is designed and constructed for the specific part of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed."
This article then describes the requirements specifying what needs to be worn, and that the gear used must provide visibility, mobility, and the needed protection.
Once the hazard risk category has been determined, table 130.7(C)(16) in NFPA 70E can be used to determine the required PPE for the task. There are five hazard categories from 0 to 4. The table lists the PPE required for each of these hazard categories.
In addition to the gear listed in the table, circumstances may dictate additional criteria for your arc flash gear, such as the need for it to be rain resistant, or to provide warmth in cold weather.
All clothing worm must be arc flash rated. Article 130.7(12) specifies the clothing and apparel that may not be worn. This includes anything that does not meet the requirements of 130.7(C)(11) concerning melting or flammability. There is an exception that allows underlayers of clothing to not be arc-rated. However, 130.7(9)(c) states that underlayers that are next to the skin may not be made from acetate, nylon, polyester, polypropylene or spandex.
When selecting arc flash gear be familiar with NFPA 70E 2012. Be sure all of your arc flash gear meets the NFPA requirements, and that you are using the appropriate gear for the situation, as required by the code.
A key final step of protection are the arc flash labels required to be on all equipment that represents an arc flash hazard. Arc flash labels should either specify the required gear (PPE), or provide sufficient information such that the level of PPE required is clear. Article 130.5(C) specifies the requirements for labeling.
Arc flash labels are specific for the electrical equipment and must be custom printed. Your best option for making the arc flash labels you need is a DuraLabel printer. Call 1-888-326-9244 today and ask about getting a special DuraLabel arc flash labeling package. You'll save money, and you'll have the industry's leading label printer for arc flash labeling, as well as for handling a wide range of other labeling and sign making needs.