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How Arc Flash Clothing Helps Prevent Injury During Electrical Incidents

For every business dealing with significant levels of electricity, being aware of the dangers associated is paramount and there are a variety of health and safety regulations associated. With arc flash being one of the most potentially dangerous elements of a workplace, using Arc Flash Answers to get an understanding of how to safely deal with electricity in the workplace could potentially be lifesaving. Electrical incidents can occur in a split second and quickly escalate, leaving no time to waste to protect employees from severe injuries, or even death.

Arc flash incidents occur when an electrical fault releases electrical energy, causing an intense burst of heat and light. They create high-pressure shock waves that can not only cause hazards through falling equipment and furniture, but they can also knock over workers in the vicinity. The energy released can reach extreme temperatures of up to 35,000°F, being a serious threat that can cause severe burns, blindness, and hearing loss.

Arc flash clothing is designed to protect people from the potential hazards of working with electricity and should be worn by everyone in the electrical industry, adding protection alongside the necessary electrical safety products.

How protective is arc flash clothing?

Arc flash clothing consists of multiple layers of fabric, each with a specific purpose, which makes it good for protecting against the intense heat and energy released. The clothing is designed to meet specific safety standards and regulations, with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) having requirements for arc flash protection which outline the minimum requirements for arc flash clothing, including the arc rating, minimum ATPV (Arc Thermal Performance Value), and more.

The outer layer of arc flash clothing tends to be made of a heavy-duty flame-resistant material such as Nomex or Kevlar which is designed to prevent the clothing from catching fire or melting. Beneath this an insulation layer is used which protects against the heat of an arc flash incident, reducing the risk of burns and other injuries to the body. The innermost layer is made of a moisture-wicking material such as cotton which is comfortable against the skin but also keeps the wearer cool and dry against sweat and moisture.

Employers are responsible for providing their workers with appropriate arc flash clothing. The arc flash clothing should always be worn alongside gloves, a face shield, and other personal protective equipment to ensure full protection. Since the arc flash clothing is designed to prevent ignition through the outer layer of flame-resistant fabric, this reduces the risk of injury to the worker from catching fire during an arc flash incident. The multiple layers of fabric used create a barrier between the skin and the heat and energy released during an arc flash incident which helps to reduce the severity of burns and other injuries, giving the worker time to escape the situation.

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