Arc Flash Suit - Last Line of Defense

Arc Flash Suit

The Arc Flash Suit should be the 'last line of defense' when implementing a documented electrical safety program for the maintenance, repair and testing of energized low voltage, medium voltage or high voltage electrical equipment. When all other forms of arc flash safety have failed, then electrical safety PPE should be there to pick up the slack.

In general, what can be done to reduce the risk of electrical hazards? Adherence to electrical safety standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Electrical Code (NEC/NFPA 70E) is a great start. Another important option is ensuring that your last line of defense is secured. One way to do that is by using the appropriate PPE.

In the entire scope of arc flash personal protective equipment (PPE), clothing should be only one component of an overall electrical safety program.

 

Arc Flash Suit Selector

Arc flash clothing requirements dictate the choice of the right PPE. The higher the risk assessment that is performed, the higher the arc rating that your PPE needs meet.

The National Fire Protection Association NFPA 70E specifies four PPE categories. These categories correspond with the NFPA 70E electrical safety clothing requirements.

When it comes to clothing specifications under the Canadian Standard for Electrical Safety (CSA Z462) arc rated PPE of 75 cal, 100 cal and 140 cal are all combined into a separate category 5.

 

What is an Arc Flash Suit? 
It protects electrical workers from serious injury or death that is caused by electrical and other common at-work hazards. It consist of a variety of electrical safety clothing items, including: coveralls, leggings, aprons, footwear, smocks, gloves, pants, hoods, jackets, and vests. Arc flash suits greatly reduce a worker's exposure to harmful and dangerous arc fash and arc blast accidents.

Regular work clothes made from common fabrics (such as cotton) can easily catch on fire. In the U.S., electrical workers are required by the National Electrical Code (NEC) to wear flame-resistant (FR) PPE, which meet ASTM International safety standards (ASTM-F1506) whenever electrical workers are in an environment where exposure to an arc flash is high.

 

Arc Flash Suit Materials
PPE has to withstand an electrical arc flash and in order to do that durable and tough materials must be used. Electrical arc flash occurs at different heat intensities, so FR clothing materials are used based on certain heat intensity levels. The materials must also be able to provide resistance against blasts, crushing, abrasions, chemicals, crushing, radiation, and liquids.

MATERIAL: Rubber, latex, and nitrile safety clothing
TYPE OF PROTECTION: Resistance against a variety of industrial liquids

MATERIAL: Butyl 
TYPE OF PROTECTION: Provides resistance to steam, water and oxygenated solvents

MATERIAL: Nitril
TYPE OF PROTECTION: Provides resistance against fuels and petroleum hydrocarbons

MATERIAL: Aramid
TYPE OF PROTECTION: This light-weight, yet tough, organic material is used in most protective garments.

MATERIAL: Neoprene
TYPE OF PROTECTION: This synthetic rubber provides resistance from environmental degradation and used mostly with chemicals and oils

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