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Arc flash suits are a critical component of personal protective equipment (PPE) for electrical workers. In this third part of our series on selecting appropriate PPE, we'll delve into the details of arc flash suits, discussing their importance, how to choose the right suit for your needs, and proper maintenance practices.

The Role of Arc Flash Suits in Electrical Safety

As discussed in Part 2, a two-category arc-rated clothing system is typically recommended, with daily wear providing protection up to a certain level (e.g., 8 cal/cm^2) and an arc flash suit offering additional protection for higher-risk situations. While NFPA 70E 130.5(G) allows workers to stay out of an arc flash suit up to 12 cal/cm^2, your facility's policies may require a suit for anything beyond the ATPV (arc thermal protective value) of your daily wear.

Determining the Required ATPV for Your Arc Flash Suit

To select the appropriate arc flash suit, you must first determine the highest incident energy level present in your facility's equipment, as indicated by the arc flash stickers. Some facilities limit worker interaction with electrical hazards to a maximum of 8 cal/cm^2, eliminating the need for a suit. However, if your facility allows work on equipment with higher incident energy levels, you'll need to choose a suit with an ATPV that matches or exceeds the highest value.

At Rozel, we can help you conduct a comprehensive arc flash risk assessment to identify the appropriate ATPV for your arc flash suits based on your facility's unique needs and hazards.

Considerations for High-Risk Equipment

In some cases, equipment like main breakers fed directly from a transformer secondary can have extremely high arc flash values, exceeding 100 cal/cm^2. While arc flash suits are available for these hazard levels, it's essential to consider whether work should be performed on such equipment at all. An arc flash incident at these levels can destroy equipment, leading to unplanned downtime and significant production losses. Always assess the potential consequences before working on high-risk equipment.

Rozel's experts can guide you through the decision-making process and help you develop safety protocols for working on high-risk equipment, ensuring that your workers are adequately protected and your facility maintains optimal productivity.

Selecting the Right Arc Flash Suit for Your Environment

In addition to the ATPV, consider your work environment when choosing an arc flash suit. For warm weather, a thin, lightweight suit like those offered by EnesPro (now part of National Safety Apparel) can provide high levels of protection while maintaining comfort. These suits often feature built-in fans for improved air flow. In colder environments, a thicker garment from manufacturers like Oberon or CPA may be more suitable. Be sure to evaluate the durability and quality of the suit based on the type and frequency of work performed.

Rozel's team can assist you in selecting the most appropriate arc flash suits for your work environment, taking into account factors like temperature, humidity, and the nature of the work being performed.

Advances in Hood and Visor Technology

Arc flash hoods and visors have seen significant improvements in recent years. When selecting a hood, consider the clarity and visibility of the visor, as well as features like built-in lights and air flow fans. Some hoods use snap-in visors, while others rely on rubber bands for attachment. Ensure that the visor stays securely in place during normal work activities.

Rozel stays up-to-date with the latest advancements in hood and visor technology, ensuring that our clients have access to the most effective and comfortable PPE options available.

Proper Maintenance and Storage of Arc Flash Suits

To extend the life of your arc flash suit and ensure its effectiveness, proper maintenance and storage are essential. Store suits away from other items, using a dedicated wall hanger or locker to prevent damage. Keep suits away from harmful chemicals and inspect them regularly for signs of wear, tear, or stains. Replace suits when physical damage becomes apparent, as this can compromise their protective capabilities. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for laundering to maintain the suit's integrity.

Rozel can provide guidance on the proper maintenance and storage of your arc flash suits, helping you maximize their lifespan and ensure optimal performance.

By understanding the importance of arc flash suits, selecting the appropriate ATPV for your needs, and properly maintaining your PPE, you can significantly enhance electrical safety in your workplace. For more information on arc flash risk assessments and electrical safety training, contact the experts at Rozel.