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Home » News » Arc Flash Clothing: What Does it Mean for the Wearer?

Arc Flash Clothing: What Does it Mean for the Wearer?

What is an arc flash?

An arc flash is a dangerous electrical explosion that occurs when an electric current jumps between two points in the air, creating a spark or arc. This can happen when there is a fault in an electrical system or equipment, such as a short circuit or damaged insulation. The high temperatures and pressures created by the arc flash can cause serious injuries, including burns, hearing loss, and even death.

Where can arc flashes occur?

Arc flashes are common in industries such as power generation, utilities, railway maintenance, petrochemicals, and working with high voltage power supplies. If employees are operating in potentially hazardous conditions where an electrical arc is a risk, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure workers, contractors and any site visitors are wearing appropriate clothing.

Preventing arc flashes requires proper electrical safety training and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as flame-resistant clothing, safety glasses, and face shields. Employers are also responsible for conducting risk assessments and implementing safety procedures to minimise the risk of arc flashes.

What happens during an arc flash?

An arc flash can be very dangerous to those who are in the vicinity. The electrical arcing, sometimes called a flashover, can generate intense heat. Temperatures can reach up to an incredible 19,000ºC, which can result in deep-seated, slow-healing burns to skin within a fraction of a second.

Additionally, the immense ultraviolet radiation can severely damage eyes, whilst the explosive pressure wave can rupture eardrums and even throw workers across the room. It goes without saying that the thermal energy of an arc flash can also result in brutal death.

How does arc flash clothing work?

Wearing arc flash protective clothing will reduce your risk of being injured by an electrical arc. Whilst not that common, electrical accidents can still take place, especially if those working near the equipment have not received adequate training or are using inadequate tools. These incidents frequently happen when people work on live electrical items thought to be dead. Arc flash clothing lessens the possibility of damage to your body if an unfortunate electrical accident occurs.

When should you wear arc flash clothing?

Arc flash clothing should be worn whenever there is a risk of an arc flash occurring in the workplace or during work-related activities. This includes any situation where there is a possibility of exposure to electrical equipment or systems, such as during maintenance, repair, or testing activities.

Specifically, arc flash clothing should be worn when working with or near electrical systems or equipment that are rated at or above 240 volts, or whenever there is a potential for electrical energy to be released. This includes situations where there is a risk of electrical shock or burns, as well as those where an arc flash or explosion could occur.

Is all arc flash clothing the same?

Not all arc flash clothing is suitable for every incident, so it’s important to analyse the hazard before choosing the appropriate garments. Materials are tested for their arc rating, which is the maximum incident energy resistance that they can cope with. This is usually measured in calories per centimetre squared (cal/cm2), i.e. how many calories of heat can be withstood per square centimetre.

How can I protect my workers from injuries related to an arc flash?

The best way to protect your workers from arc flashes is to get in touch with the workplace clothing and PPE experts here at SafetyCare to discuss your exact needs. We’ll talk you through our wide range of flame-resistant and arc flash clothing, which includes shirts, jackets, trousers, gloves and helmets, and ensure that your workers are protected from head to toe.

Maximise workplace safety

To find out more about arc flash clothing or to place an order, give our team of safety specialists a call on 01 8499 100 or email sales@safetycare.ie.

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