"This long-overdue update will save nearly 20 lives and prevent 118 serious injuries annually," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels.

FYI: PPE Acronyms You Should Know

With the introduction of updated standards such as NFPA 70E 2015, you need to know what they mean.

With the prevalence of texting and communicating via social media, acronyms are everywhere. It’s as if online communication is spoken in an entirely different language. IMHO, getting to know what these acronyms mean is important to navigating the online world and being in touch culturally across generations.

In work environments, acronyms are likewise prevalent, but misunderstanding these key terms can mean the difference between life and death. With the introduction of updated standards such as NFPA 70E 2015, you need to know your PPE acronyms.

Common PPE-Related Acronyms That Are GTK
When it comes to understanding PPE and its performance, there is no such thing as TMI. PPE or personal protective equipment refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury.

The bulk of the protective clothing solutions on the market today are categorized as FR, or flame resistant, fire resistant, flame retardant, or fire retardant, although the latter two terms are often used to describe a chemical substance that imparts flame resistance on a fabric. Flame resistance may be achieved by using fibers that have this property inherently in the polymer or by applying a chemical finish to a fabric. If a fabric is inherently flame resistant, its thermal protective properties will not wash out or wear way.

The reality is that not all FR protective gear provides the same level of protection, and performance varies greatly, from FR-treated materials to high-performing fabrics constructed of truly non-flammable fiber blends.

HRC: Hazard Risk Category
One of the updates in NFPA 70E 2015 centered around changes to the standard’s Hazard Risk Categories (HRC). HRC is the level of arc flash protection required to protect against a minimum level of incident energy measured in calories/cm². HRC levels are numbered by severity, with the highest level offering the greatest protection.

Previously, the categories ranged from 0 to 4; however, the "0" category was eliminated in NFPA 70E 2015. It had created some confusion in the industry because it did not require the use of arc-rated PPE or clothing. Even with the HRC 0 requirement removed, there are still some requirements when it comes to clothing—such as not wearing any meltable-fabric clothing when working on or operating energized electrical equipment.

But don't get too familiar with the HRC acronym. Another major change in NFPA 70E 2015 is replacing the HRC terminology, now listing this information as an arc flash PPE category and simply providing the arc rating.

ATPV: Arc Thermal Protective Value
ATPV is a value of the energy necessary to pass through any given fabric to cause with 50 percent probability a second- or third-degree burn, based upon the Stoll curve. This value is measured in calories/cm².

EBT: Energy Breakthrough Threshold
EBT is a measure of the energy a fabric can withstand without breaking open of at least 0.5 in2 with 50 percent probability and preventing a second-degree burn.

TPP: Thermal Protective Performance
TPP is a measurement of a protective fabric's thermal insulating performance against convective and radiant heat. A fabric’s TPP score is simply two times the number of seconds it takes for a second-degree burn to occur when exposed to a 2.0 cal/cm2 flame, as determined by the Stoll curve. The higher the TPP rating, the higher the level of protection.

RPP: Radiant Protective Performance
RPP is similar to TPP, although it measures the insulating performance of a fabric against radiant heat only.

THL: Total Heat Loss
THL is the amount of conductive (dry) and evaporative (wet) heat loss that occurs through the three layers of a firefighter’s turnout ensemble—outer shell, moisture barrier, and thermal liner. THL is a great indicator of comfort.

LOI: Limiting Oxygen Index
The LOI measures the amount of oxygen required in the environment for a fabric to support combustion. Any material with an LOI rating less than 20.95 (the oxygen volume of air) will burn in air. For example, the LOI rating of cotton is 19. Modacrylic fabrics have a LOI rating of 26, while para-aramid fabrics have an LOI rating of 30. Carbonized fibers, which expand when exposed to intense heat and flame and reduce the oxygen content within the fabric, have an LOI rating of 55, nearly three times that of air.

CCHR: Conductive Compressive Heat Resistance
The CCHR rating of shoulder and knee areas, when compressed, must equal the established base garment rating. This was intended to ensure that the shoulder and knee areas would provide the same level of thermal protection when compressed as was afforded by the remainder of the garment. The test is run in both wet and dry conditions.

Your New BFFs
The mission of each of the following regulating bodies is the same: to keep workers safe. They strive to achieve this goal by researching, developing, and implementing thousands of standards regulating every facet of workplace safety.

OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration
With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created OSHA to ensure safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. OSHA standards are rules that describe the methods that employers must use to protect their employees from hazards. There are OSHA standards for construction work, maritime operations, agriculture, and general industry, which is the set that applies to most work sites.

NFPA: National Fire Protection Association
Founded in 1896, NFPA is an international nonprofit focused on fire, electrical, building, and life safety. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possible effects of fire and other hazards and provides research, training, and education. NFPA membership totals more than 70,000 individuals from around the world and more than 80 national trade and professional organizations.

ASTM: American Society for Testing and Materials
ASTM International provides 12,000 voluntary consensus standards that are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access and trade, and build consumer confidence. Working in an open and transparent process and using ASTM’s advanced electronic infrastructure, ASTM members—more than 30,000 of the world’s top technical experts and business professionals representing 150 countries—deliver the test methods, specifications, guides, and practices that support industries and governments worldwide.

ANSI: American National Standards Institute
ANSI enhances both the global competitiveness of U.S. businesses and the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems and safeguarding their integrity. Since 1918, ANSI has overseen the creation, dissemination, and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in nearly every sector, from acoustical devices to construction equipment, from dairy and livestock production to energy distribution, and many more. ANSI is also actively engaged in accrediting programs that assess conformance to standards, including globally recognized cross-sector programs such as the ISO 9000 (quality) and ISO 14000 (environmental) management systems.

AATCC: American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists
AATCC has served textile professionals since 1921. It is internationally recognized for its standard methods of testing fibers and fabrics to measure and evaluate such performance characteristics as colorfastness, appearance, soil release, dimensional change, and water resistance. AATCC provides test method development, quality control materials, and professional networking for thousands of members in 60 countries throughout the world.

ISO: International Organization of Standardization
Started in 1947, ISO has published more than 19,500 international standards covering almost every industry, from technology to food safety to agriculture and health care. These standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable, and of good quality. ISO standards are developed by the people that need them through a consensus process. Experts from 165 countries and 3,368 technical bodies develop the standards that are required by their sectors, which results in the standards' reflecting a wealth of international experience and knowledge.

IEEE: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
IEEE is dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity through conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities. It is designed to serve professionals involved in all aspects of the electrical, electronic, and computing fields and related areas of science and technology. IEEE's roots go back to 1884 when electricity began to become a major influence in society.

BTW, Safety Associations Provide Additional Support and Resources
To further build awareness of workplace safety standards and solutions, associations have formed to provide training, professional development, advocacy, and venues for their members to share best practices, such as national trade shows, regional conferences, webinars, etc. Like the regulating bodies detailed above, their aim is to change behaviors.

ASSE: American Society of Safety Engineers
Founded in 1911, ASSE promotes the expertise, leadership, and commitment of its more than 35,000 members worldwide while providing them with professional development and standards development. ASSE is also a visible advocate for safety, health, and environmental professionals through proactive government affairs at the federal and state levels and in member-led relationships with key federal safety and health agencies.

NSC: National Safety Council
NSC partners with businesses, government agencies, elected officials, and the public to prevent unintentional injuries and deaths by providing knowledge and resources that enable them to reduce risks, engage employees, measure progress, and continuously improve their safety management systems. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the NSC relies on research to determine optimal solutions to safety issues.

VPPPA: Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association
VPPPA provides occupational safety, health, and environmental leaders with networking and educational offerings, up-to-the-minute legislative information, industry advancements, preferred vendors and consultants dedicated to VPP, mentoring opportunities, professional development, and volunteer opportunities. For more than three decades, VPPPA has supported a network of participants from a wide variety of industries and 2,500 companies and work sites that are involved in or in the process of applying to OSHA's or the Department of Energy's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).

YOLO! Workplace safety is nothing to LOL about.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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