The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published the latest edition of the NFPA 70E Standard in 2018. It states, “Employees shall wear arc rated clothing wherever there is a possible exposure to an electric arc flash above the threshold incident energy level for a second degree burn (1.2 cal/cm2).” This requires employees working on or near energized parts and equipment to wear flame resistant (FR), arc rated clothing that meets the requirements of ASTM F1506 and is appropriate to the potential energy of the hazard. Employers are required to perform an arc flash hazard analysis, now called an arc flash risk assessment, to estimate the likelihood of occurrence of injury and the potential severity of injury and then determine if additional protective measures are required, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
If an arc flash risk assessment determines that PPE is required, PPE selection can be determined by calculating the potential incident energy of a piece of equipment or using PPE Category Classifications. Arc ratings of protective clothing must either exceed the calculated incident energy or meet the corresponding PPE Category minimum arc ratings listed in the Table 130.7(C)(15)(c) Personal Protective Equipment.”
Most major companies in the US have some employees that work on or near energized parts and equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers the NFPA 70E arc flash standard a “recognized industry practice” and has levied fines to companies that haven’t protected their employees when arc flash accidents have occurred.
Simplify Compliance to NFPA 70E
Many companies simplify compliance to NFPA 70E through everyday uniform programs using garments made with Westex-brand FR fabric that meet the requirements of NFPA 70E PPE Categories 1 and 2 as a single-layer. This can alleviate employer concerns about leaving the difficult decision of determining whether a specific routine electrical task is PPE Category 1 or 2 in the hands of the employee. Please refer to NFPA 70E Annex H.2 Simplified Two Category Flame Resistant (FR) Clothing Approach.
To supplement everyday uniforms, arc flash suits and hoods in double-layer Westex ® DH, Westex ® DH Air TM, Westex UltraSoft®, UltraSoft AC® and Indura® combinations are available for higher energy PPE Category 3 & 4 level tasks.