The use of flame-resistant clothing is an essential safety measure for working in environments presenting a risk of electric arc or flash fire. Arc-rated textile materials can reduce the risks of burns during momentary electric arcs by playing the part of a thermal shield between the arc and the user. Therefore, to maximize protection, it is crucial to understand the best practices to launch and support this type of workplace safety program focusing on protective clothing against electrical hazards, including why you should specify the type of material required before choosing the clothing supplier.
1. Identify the risks
You must know which types of exposure the users will face to ensure they are properly protected against the risks of arc flash and electric shocks.
2. Assess the risks
Two methods can be used to assess electrical hazards in the workplace. The first method analyzes incident energy, and the second considers the category of hazard or danger. Then, the selection of arc-rated protective clothing is determined according to this risk assessment. Standards were developed for specific risks that workers are facing each and every day.
The ASTM F1506 standard is the reference for arc-rated protective clothing, as the ASTM F1959 indicates the electric arc rating for clothing items and kits. The result appears in calories/cm2, using the ATPV (Arc Thermal Performance Value) or the electric arc resistance thermal value.
3. Specify the textile material
This step is important for the success of any workplace electrical safety program. The type of fireproof fabric is a critical factor in determining the level of protective clothing needed. It includes many important actions, as follows
Find fabrics that meet your performance needs
- Examine independent test reports
- Ensure the fabric addresses all risks
Evaluate viable options and don’t forget to consult the workers
- Don’t be satisfied with minimal performance. Look for market-proven performance
- When comparing two products offering the same properties, always choose the most comfortable. Also, involve workers during the selection process for clothing. In addition to validating the choice, they will help facilitate its acceptance by their colleagues.
4. Educate and implement the program
A workplace electrical safety program cannot be complete without a training focused on the optimal use of the equipment. Teach your team about the importance of wearing protective clothing. Make sure the resources understand the needs, but also how to wear and maintain fireproof clothing. Training can be done individually or as a group, and target all workers potentially exposed to danger.
5. Review the effectiveness of the program
As for any other program or process adopted by the company, we must monitor the effectiveness of the flame-resistance program through equipment inspection and the verification of operational modes on a regular basis. Compare the current health and safety performance to the one obtained at the beginning of the program in order to determine its success or failure. Do not hesitate to rectify the situation if needed, and above all, seek the aid or support of the experts of SPI Health and Safety for your flame-resistance program.