(913) 667-9896 info@70eConsultants.com

In Part 1 we discussed hard hats. Part 2 will discuss "Daily Wear"

Simplifying electrical work wear by having a "daily wear" is an easy way to ensure compliance, but attention to details is of the utmost importance for safety.

"Daily wear" is the clothing that electrical workers wear every day, this is their work uniform. This clothing is different from a standard uniform because it is designed to protect electrical workers during an arc flash.

The advantage of daily wear is if you are performing standard work such as testing, troubleshooting or voltage measuring, then the only additional PPE you might need to don is for shock protection and possibly face arc flash protection. If you are to perform work on more dangerous arc flash hazards then additional PPE might be necessary. We typically recommend a two-category arc-rated clothing system such as that described below, daily wear on the left, additional arc flash protection on the right, i.e. a suit. However in this post, we will only be covering daily wear

Technically NFPA 70E 130.5(G) Selection of Arc-Rated Clothing and Other PPE When the Incident Energy Method is Used allows you to stay out of an arc flash suit all the way up to a 12 cal/cm^2 arc flash hazard. Finding shirts rated to this value can be difficult though. For this reason, a very common daily wear value is rated to at least 8 cal/cm^2 ATPV (arc thermal protective value). This means that your shirt and pants both have an ATPV value of at least 8 cal/cm^2. If you have completed an arc flash evaluation at your facility and most all of your hazards are below 4 cal/cm^2 then a case for lighter arc flash PPE daily wear can be made. We have seen facilities like this but they are rare.

Now that we know the desired rating of daily wear, the next step is selecting it. The table mentioned above, NFPA 70E 130.5(G)) calls out "Arc-rated long-sleeve shirt and pants or arc-rated coverall or arc flash suit (SR)"

There are many providers of arc-rated long-sleeve shirts and pants, this is where it's important to be careful. A shirt or pant claiming to be FR (Flame Resistant) is not enough. A shirt or pant claiming to be tested to meet NFPA 2112 (Standard on Flame-Resistant Clothing for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures from Fire) is not enough. A shirt or pant claiming to meet the requirements of NFPA 70E is no such thing, per the NFPA "The NFPA does not approve equipment. The label should indicate that the garment complies with the applicable American Society of Testing and Materials standard."

You must see an ATPV value on the garment although this is not all encompassing. Claiming that the garment meets the requirements of ASTM F1959 (Standard Test Method for Determining the Arc Rating of Materials for Clothing) means that the fabric has been tested. Claiming that the garment meets the requirements of ASTM F1506 (Standard Performance Specification for Flame Resistant and Electric Arc Rated Protective Clothing Worn by Workers Exposed to Flames and Electric Arcs) means that the garment itself has been tested. Claiming ASTM F1506 may only include a single test when the trusted manufacturers perform many tests and list conservative results. You should ask for test results proving the ATPV value if you are not ordering from a source that you are familiar with.

When we contacted a senior technical resource for one of the most trusted brands in the USA and received the following response: "Bottom line; to avoid “questionable” products, I would simply avoid any products that are below fair market value in pricing. I would avoid any products where the country of origin may make contacting them difficult. I always encourage folks to choose “Proven supply chain partners” and not for the reason many think - it’s for when things go wrong, and someone is hurt. Could you imagine if there were legal ramifications and depositions involved and not being able to get support from the company you purchased your PPE from. No reasonable person would buy the cheapest fall harness, that is not certified to the standards, made with inferior materials to save a few bucks when falling 50 ft. Yet they look to do it all the time with their FR/AR clothing. My recommendation always is buy good stuff, wear it right, take care of it and it will take care of you when you need it. Any of [the trusted companies] would be able to provide documentation and more importantly stand behind their garments if there is an incident."

Some of the trusted names for finished clothing include: Bulwark, Wrangler, Ariat, Workrite, CPA (Chicago Protective Apparel), Dragon Wear, Carhartt, Lakeland, Lapco, DriFire, Tyndale, Rasco. You can buy all of the these manufacturer's products online either through their own webstore or from a distributor, many have an Amazon store.

Underlayers

Clothing worn under your daily wear is also important. NFPA 70E 130.7(C)(9)(c) states that: "Meltable fibers such as acetate, nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and spandex shall not be permitted in fabric underlayers. Exception: An incidental amount of elastic used on nonmelting fabric underwear or socks shall be permitted."

Typically, 100% cotton under layers is acceptable, consider this for shirts, underwear, etc. Think about this especially when working in cold environments, under armor and similar type garments are likely not ok to wear, check the tag to verify.

Foot Protection

NFPA 70E 130.7(C)(8) states: "Where insulated footwear is used as protection against step and touch potential, dielectric footwear shall be required. Insulated soles shall not be used as primary electrical protection.
Informational Note: Electrical hazard (EH) footwear can provide a secondary source of electric shock protection under dry conditions."

NFPA 70E 130.7(C)(10)(e) states:" Leather footwear or dielectric footwear or both provide some arc flash protection to the feet and shall be used in all exposures greater than 4 cal/cm^2 (16.75 J/cm^2). Footwear other than leather or dielectric shall be permitted to be used provided it has been tested to demonstrate no ignition, melting, or dripping at the estimated incident energy exposure or the minimum arc rating for the respective arc flash PPE category."

We suggest boots which are 100% leather, EH rated and depending on your work environment you may need a safety toe (steel or composite)or slip resistant. The height of your footwear should go up under your pants, some work places may require a minimum height when concerned about ankle cuts, check with your facility's requirements in this regard.

Other things to Think About

Some facilities require additional items such as smocks and hair nets while in production areas, hi-vis vests when around vehicle or fork-lift traffic. Usually smocks, hair nets and hi-vis vests are made of meltable fabrics. You can find each of these in arc rated materials but they are rare because they are expensive and their non-arc-rated counterpart are very inexpensive. If you have to wear these non-arc-rated items, its important to remove them when performing electrical work. Coordinate with your local EHS (Environmental Health and Safety) person to ensure your work practices meet GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices) and keep you safe. Remember that your outer layer must be arc rated and underlayers must nonmelting. If you're wearing a jacket as the outer layer while performing electrical work then it must be arc rated to greater than the equipment's calculated arc flash hazard.

Metal jewelry should not be worn when performing electrical work. If wedding rings are allowed in production then consider wearing a silicone band. NFPA 70E 130.8(D) states: "Conductive articles of jewelry and clothing (such as watchbands, bracelets, rings, key chains, necklaces, metalized aprons, cloth with conductive thread, metal headgear, or metal frame glasses) shall not be worn within the restricted approach boundary or where they present an electrical contact hazard with exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts."

Dont forget

Safety glasses are required when working on equipment with an arc flash rating greater than 1.2 cal/cm^2 and hearing protection is required when inside the arc flash boundary. Ear canal inserts are acceptable unless additional hearing protection is required for your work environment. Safety glasses should not be metal frame (there is a risk they could fall into equipment and act as a conductor creating an arc flash). Belts should also be non-melting. We suggest all leather.