When teaching electrical safety classes I always seem to get the same question, “Can I launder my own electrical safety gear”? In my lesson plan I discuss this subject in great detail and advises the students to follow the instructions that the manufacturer has listed on the attached label. I go on to explain that you shouldn’t use bleach, fabric softeners or the like. I do warn that oily and greasy gear can affect its ability to protect you as designed, and it’s imperative that the gear be clean and free of rips, tears or holes. This usually satisfies the question and we move on.
I understand that a laundry or full service PPE vendor may not be the right choice for every organization. If properly trained, laundering your electrical safety gear inhouse can be accomplished safely.
A few self-laundering pitfalls that I have seen:
- It may not be a good idea to leave it up to the employees to decide when wash their own gear. What some people consider clean may not align with safety or hygiene standards.
- Make sure each electrical worker is provided with enough gear. This way they can take a set out of service and have a set or two to wear in the meantime.
- Supervisors and peers can never be afraid to coach safety. Friends don’t let friends wear dirty or worn-out arc flash gear.
Try forming a team or committee that includes the affected workers. Come up with a laundering plan. Consult with the manufacturer or supplier to determine the best practice. Most arc flash PPE vendors have washing and drying information available on their websites. Add some guidance to your written safety program that defines the process. Then explain the new standards in your next shop brief or training session.
Remember clean gear is safe gear.
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