How selecting Personal Protective Equipment can save your employees lives

How you select Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for your employees may save their lives.

Employers are responsible for protecting their workers from the catastrophic results of an arc flash event. How you chose the correct PPE is based on the type(s) of electrical exposure your workers may come into contact with.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) could include hard hats, gloves, hot sticks, or a full bodied arc flash suit with face shield. Many employers use NFPA 70E 2004: table 130.7 (C)(9)(A) as their guide to selecting the correct equipment. Or one could conduct an arc flash analysis. We find that this type of analysis far exceeds trying to use just the tables. In fact, using only the tables often results in improper protection for your worker. The tables (http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/PDF/CodesStandards/TIAErrataFI/TIA70E-04-1.pdf)  are based on certain jobs and divided into eight equipment- and voltage-specific sections. The tables are extremely limited in that they only cover eight specific types of equipment. Although the equipment l they list may cover most situations, it may not cover yours. If your equipment, voltage, or task is not listed then 70E requires an arc flash analysis.

Another concern about relying on the tables for your PPE requirements is that they only cover situations up to Category 4. Some equipment is higher than Category 4 and this is what is known as the dangerous level. This level means the arc flash will be so catastrophic and that one cannot work on the panel live.

As you study the table you will see that it is based on a predetermined current and clearing time. Obviously the problem with this scenario is that your facility may have a higher current or a lower current and both can result in an increased thermal hazard. This would mean you could have the incorrect PPE protection which would make the difference between life and death for your worker(s). The best way to protect your employees from injury or death, and your company from devastating law suits is simple: Have an Arc Flash Analysis conducted at your facility. Not only will you save lives, but you will have fulfilled OSHA mandates for training your employees and you will be assured that they are properly protected when the unexpected does happen. Macron Safety is your Safety Solutions Partner and we pride ourselves on education, prevention and safe work environments.