Why is it Important to Wear Arc-Rated PPE?
Wearing certified fire and arc-resistant garments help protect you from the life-threatening effects of an arc flash event. In the US, about 5-10 arc explosions occur daily, and over 2000 workers are treated for arc flash burns yearly. Your chance of survival significantly decreases when more than 40-50% of your body has been burned from an arc flash exposure due to infections.
The event of an arc flash occurs when a flashover of light and heat produces an electrical current that leaves its intended path traveling through the air from one conductor to another. This event can occur due to several circumstances like dust, condensation, material failure, dropping your tools, or faulty installation. The results of an arc flash exposure can lead to severe injury or death depending on three factors - the temperature, the time for the circuit to break, and how close you are to the hazard. The effect of exposure often results in burns and can melt your clothing onto your skin if you’re not wearing certified fire-resistant clothing. Flying objects like molten metal can also create a building fire, a sound blast, and intense heat. The amount of heat that radiates from an arc flash can reach up to about 35,000°F in seconds, then immediately cools off. That is nearly 4x hotter than the surface of the sun. Because of how quickly an arc flash occurs, there’s no way to escape it once it happens.
Here’s an example of an Exxtreme™ Jacket exposed to a real-life arc flash event. The burn reaction caused the burned areas of the jacket to turn a yellow-green color instead of creating holes or break-opens reducing your exposure to an arc flash.
Steps to Prevent Arc Flashes
Depending on whether you’re working on or near energized equipment, some will have a more significant flash protection boundary, and some will have a lower boundary. The flash protection boundary or outer boundary is the farthest boundary from the energy source. The best preventive measure to reduce arc flash exposure is by de-energizing the equipment you’re working on. Additional steps to reduce exposure are using your work safety practices, barricades, insulation, or ground fault circuit interrupters. If you must work with energized equipment, it’s essential to wear certified PPE, create a workplace safety program, and use insulated tools. Plan out your work. Don’t take shortcuts.
Does Your PPE Meet Industry Safety Standards?
A primary component to help reduce your exposure to an arc flash is wearing arc-rated PPE. The DragonWear collection is constructed with inherent fire and arc-resistant fabrics, meaning it protects you from intense heat and high energy resulting from an arc flash for the life of the garment. When exposed to an arc flash or flash fire event, the FR fabric creates a barrier between you and the hazard, greatly reducing the risk of suffering a burn injury. Understanding the level of protection required for your industry is essential. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard for garments protecting against arc flashes is known as NFPA 70E. This standard is specifically designed for electrical safety in the workplace to protect workers from major electrical events.