Arc Flash PPE Selection

Arc flash PPE is the last line of defence for electrical workers. It is much better to implement solutions that negate the use of this lower order control from the hierarchy of controls.

However, arc flash PPE will be needed well into the foreseeable future for most organisations to ensure to safety of their employees and to comply with WHS requirements.

Daniel wearing Cat I everyday clothing

The PPE must be suitable for the incident energy levels at each site but it is also important for electrical workers to wear everyday CAT I or Cat II clothing just in case of an unanticipated incident. I always liken it to wearing a seatbelt in a car – I have never needed one but will be very glad to be wearing one if I ever need it and I wouldn’t think of driving the car without one.

Many organisations have specified Cat II clothing for everyday use but tests in Australia have shown little difference in the protection offered by either. Some protection will be better than none if some unforeseen accident occurs. Cat II is obviously superior to Cat 1 usability must come into play.

The PPE needs to fit the worker and be comfortable. I recently had one client using size 10 arc rated insulated gloves for all workers. Some workers had trouble getting the gloves on and the gloves were then way too tight once donned. Others found them way too loose and clumsy to use.

Organisations that are just embarking down the arc rated PPE path should involved workers in “wear trials” to get their buy in and ambassadorship. Various fabrics should be trialled to ensure workers don’t overheat in summer or freeze in winter, once the final product is decided on.

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