What to Look For in Arc Flash PPE
PPE is an essential line of defence against arc flash and, as an employer, you have a responsibility to provide appropriate personal protective equipment in any situation with a risk of arc flash, including to any employee working near to energised conductors. But what exactly is meant by ‘appropriate’ PPE?
In this sense, ‘appropriate’ refers to PPE that not only meets local guidelines and regulation, but which is also suitable for the environment and intended for the type of work that is being carried out.
Here are 5 things to look for in arc flash PPE to help you select the safest and most effective options:
1. UK/EU Certification
Perhaps the most important consideration is making sure that any arc flash PPE is fit for purpose. Ideally, arc flash PPE should meet the UK EN 61482-1-2 standard, or the equivalent EU IEC 61482-2 standard. This ensures that the workwear is made from suitable materials that can withstand thermal hazards.
2. ATPV Rating
Some types of arc flash PPE will state the ATPV, or arc thermal performance value, on the tag. Ideally, the ATPV rating should be slightly higher than the incident energy that was calculated during an engineering assessment, or which was posted on the equipment. This helps to significantly reduce the risk of burns.
Preferably, arc flash PPE should be manufactured under Article 11b, which looks at quality system monitoring. This means that the manufacturer’s site is regularly checked to ensure that they are using efficient and effective processes to produce high quality arc flash PPE that meets certification criteria.
The term ‘fits like a glove’ is one you won’t often hear in relation to arc flash PPE. In fact, arc flash PPE should never be too tight as this could increase the risk of skin exposure. Instead, it is much better to find workwear that is slightly loose, but not baggy, giving freedom of movement and protecting the skin.
Businesses are advised never to purchase used arc flash PPE, or any PPE from second hand stores. That’s because the condition of the workwear is a hugely important factor affecting garment performance. Arc flash PPE should be in top condition, and free from any holes, rips, or tears to give the best protection.
Arc flash can cause very serious injuries, so it’s important to take the time to carefully consider the types of arc flash PPE available, and select the most suitable jackets, trousers, visors, and gloves for the job.
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