Understanding How Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Can Protect Workers From Arc Flash Hazards

The importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in protecting workers from arc flash hazards cannot be understated. It is crucial that workers are fitted with proper PPE to drastically reduce the chances for injury while working on electrical equipment. Injuries sustained from arc flashes can be severe and may lead to long-term disabilities. Here we will discuss some of the ways PPE can be used to prevent workplace injuries in regards to arc flash hazards.

 

Breaking Down the Four Categories of Arc Flash PPE

In the most recently released standards for PPE regarding arc flash hazards, NFPA 70E, the requirements were changed to reflect 4 PPE categories to be used when dealing with different incident energy analysis. These categories are as follows:

 

PPE Category 1: Arc Rating Minimum 4 cal/cm^2

This is the lowest level when arc-rated PPE is required to perform a work function. This category requires a single layer of arc-rated PPE material.

 

Body: Long sleeve shirt or coat and pants. Workers can also use coveralls.

Face and Head: Wrap-around face shield with guarding or a comparable arc flash suit hood.

Supplemental PPE: Arc-rated jackets, rainwear, and lined hard hats.

 

PPE Category 2: Arc Rating Minimum 8 cal/cm^2

Although this is the second category for protective measures when dealing with arc flash, most businesses utilize Category 2 materials in place of Category 1 for added protection and versatility.

 

Body: Arc-rated long sleeve shirt or jacket, pants, and/or coveralls.

Face and Head: Arc-rated face shield or flash suit hood and sock hoods.

Supplemental PPE: Arc-rated jackets, rainwear, and lined hard hats.

 

For environments requiring Category 2 PPE, it is also mandatory to use protective eyewear, gloves, hearing protection, and leather shoes.

 

PPE Category 3: Arc Rating Minimum 25 cal/cm^2

Both PPE categories 3 and 4 require multiple layers of PPE. Arc flash hoods and rubber insulated gloves with leather protectors are mandatory.

 

Body: arc-rated flash suit jacket, pants, and/or coveralls.

Face and Head: Arc-rated flash hood.

Hands: Rubber insulated gloves with leather protectors or specific arc-rated gloves.

Supplemental PPE: Arc-rated jackets and rainwear.

 

For environments requiring Category 3 PPE, it is also mandatory to use hard hats, protective eyewear, gloves, hearing protection, and leather shoes.

 

PPE Category 4: Arc Rating Minimum 40 cal/cm^2

Body: Arc-rated flash suit jacket, pants, and/or coveralls.

Face and Head: Arc-rated flash suit hood.

Hands: Rubber insulated gloves with leather protectors or arc-rated gloves.

Supplemental PPE: Arc-rated jackets and rainwear.

 

For environments requiring Category 4 PPE, it is also mandatory to use hard hats, protective eyewear, gloves, hearing protection, and leather shoes.

NFPA 70E, 130.7 Personal and Other Protective Equipment Guidelines

The guidelines set forth by the NFPA 70E, 130.7 state that when the associated risk of injury is not sufficiently reduced by installation safety requirements, workers exposed to electrical hazards must be provided with and use protective equipment designed to protect specific parts of the body.

 

That is why it is vital to make certain that employees are provided with the necessary PPE to protect themselves from the hazards of working with arc flash.

 

Creating an Atmosphere of Safety for the Benefit of All

By implementing safety standards in accordance with current regulations and providing consistent training updates to workers, you can minimize workplace injuries caused by arc flash hazards. It is imperative that workers follow all applicable guidelines set in place in the industry to ensure not only their safety but the safety of their coworkers as well.

 

Although such efforts to increase safety in your workplace may be considered unnecessary by some of your employees, it is the responsibility of management to make sure that all efforts are made to follow safety protocols while working with arc-flash hazards.

 

Pioneer Power Group is highly experienced in performing arc flash analysis and short circuit studies of electrical systems to determine compliance with existing safety standards. With our knowledge and experience, your company can assess the safety of your existing electrical systems to maximize the safety for all of those that are involved with your projects. To learn more about Pioneer Power Group and what we have to offer, contact us today.