Choose the Right FR Garment
The potential for arc flash might not be on your mind day to day, but if you've ever seen one or heard about the effects, it's obvious that measures must be taken to minimize injury and circumvent a potentially fatal situation.
Energized equipment is omnipresent in the workplace and in public spaces. An electrician's and technician's job is to keep the lights on and machines producing, regardless of the conditions. With that expectation come inherent dangers lurking around every corner. Some are obvious and some aren’t as apparent, but they are no less dangerous.
One of the unexpected hazards is arc flash. The potential for arc flash might not be on your mind day to day, but if you’ve ever seen one or heard about the effects, it's obvious that measures must be taken to minimize injury and circumvent a potentially fatal situation. The full force of an arc flash usually has no other course of travel than directly at an operator or technician — and the results can be devastating. The 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace was born out of this understanding and is quickly becoming mandatory on job sites around the nation.
70E dictates the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), requires Fire Rated clothing, and precludes the use of cotton and other unsafe clothing while working in these conditions.
Normal cotton garments will catch fire from an external or internal heat source (arc flash), and the after-burn will result in a more severe injury. Poly-armor/garments will result in even worse injury because the material will melt and drip onto skin and into wounds.
The solution is Flame Resistant (FR) wear that has been tested and approved against the 1959 Test Method and ASTM F1506 standard. Two of the biggest problems with many FR garments on the market are lack of permanence (due to a topical treatment) and lack of comfort. Some garment manufacturers have created garments that not only have the FR properties built into the fabric, but also have moisture wicking, skin temperature cooling, and antimicrobial/odor fighting properties, which all add up to superior user comfort. This comfort means a more focused and productive wearer, leading to situational awareness and fewer on-the-job injuries. Comfort also leads to continual wear because it feels just like a favorite cotton T while keeping the wearer safe and compliant.
The 70E Standard may or may not be mandatory on your work site. But now that you understand the risks and the solution, there’s no reason that you cannot combine safety and comfort to help get you home at the end of every shift.