Arc Flash Safety in 2018 (Part 4 - Selecting Arc-Rated Clothing)

May 24, 2018

We’re nearing the end of May, National Electrical Safety Month, and we’re nearly finished breaking down the changes to NFPA 70E, as highlighted by Chris Coache, their senior electrical engineer. The video we have for you this week relates to a table that has been moved for your convenience in selecting your level of arc-rated clothing when using the Incident Energy Analysis Method.


When it comes to your own personal safety on the job, I cannot seem to stress this enough, if you don’t know, ask someone who does. There is no reason to work unprotected while in the field, especially if we are dealing with energized equipment. And luckily for us, that same “someone who does” know the answer to our questions about PPE and safety has a consistent source of reliable information. The standards written by the NFPA.


Before we go much further and talk about how it is your responsibility to take the initiative in knowing what is required to keep you safe, lets refer back to the standard. In 70E, we read about the Incident Energy Analysis Method [130.5(G)] which describes how the exposure level is related to the working distance between the potential arc source and your face, chest, or arms. Naturally, this level increases as your distance decreases.


What I love about these standards is the language, specifically the use of words such as “shall” and “will”, because these standards are not optional. The language is specific for a reason, and that is to protect those to work under these standards. For instance, one important “shall” related to the incident energy analysis comes from the need to review the analysis for accuracy after no more than 5 years.


Your responsibility on the job begins simply with how you think about approaching each task. Do you review the entire scope before beginning? View each task as its own element that requires analysis? I have seen contractors do next to nothing before working on equipment, and I have seen some that go above and beyond with their PPE and safety measures. Sadly, I have heard stories of both types of individuals being severely injured during an arc flash incident. But if you had to choose which type of person you were to work with, I believe that we would all choose the qualified person who took the time to perform the steps necessary to ensure everyone involved remained safe for the duration of the work performed.


Be that person.




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