Arc Flash University: NFPA 70E PPE Challenges and Solutions Webcast: Your questions answered
Hugh Hoagland, Senior Consultant for ArcWear, was the presenter at the June 18 Plant Engineering Webcast, “Arc Flash University: NFPA 70E PPE Challenges and Solutions.” An archive version of the Webcast is now available on the Plant Engineering Website. There was not enough time during the Webcast to answer all viewer questions, so Hoagland has answered additional questions here.
Q: When are rubber lined gloves required?
A: The NEW 2015 NFPA 70E eliminated the look up table of when to use Rubber Insulating Gloves. The new standard requires you to evaluate the job to determine this. The standard statement is found in 130.7(C)(7)(a) the worker "shall wear rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors where there is a danger of hand injury from electric shock due to contact with energized electrical conductors or circuit parts. Employees shall wear rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors and rubber insulating sleeves where there is a danger of hand and arm injury from electric shock due to contact with energized electrical conductors or circuit parts. Rubber insulating gloves shall be rated for the voltage for which the gloves will be exposed.
Exception: Where it is necessary to use rubber insulating gloves without leather protectors, the requirements of ASTM F496, Standard Specification for In-Service Care of Insulating Gloves and Sleeves shall be met."
This isn’t easy to follow but the basics are any time a tool or test device held by the worker will cross the restricted approach boundary or when the worker’s body will cross the restricted approach boundary. We recommend looking at tasks in NFPA 70E 2012 for better guidance. The intent of NFPA 70E 2015 wasn’t to change when rubber insulating gloves were used but to clear up the tables with only arc flash in them.
Q: What about thermographers? IR scans.
A: The NEW 2015 NFPA 70E changed the requirement for thermography to require arc flash protection as long as the following is true:
- The thermographer is NOT opening doors or removing covers or in the arc flash boundary during this process and
- The thermographer is not crossing the restricted boundary and
- No interaction is occurring with the equipment which could cause an arc flash while the thermographer is in the arc flash boundary.
We recommend thermographers still wear AR (arc rated) garments on the outside chance of arc flash, this could save their lives.
Q: Is tucking sleeves and pants into gloves and boots a good practice for protection from arc currents that occur in a manhole?
A: This could help in some cases. The best thing I have seen companies do in manholes is provide AR t-shirts. Matching the PPE to the hazard is the key.
Q: We have our uniform supplier embroider a date on the nametags to track when arc flash clothing was produced, is this a sound methodology to determine when to replace uniforms?
A: Typically this should work. Most AR clothing does not require replacement other than when the garment is destroyed but a good rule of thumb is to change ever 5-10 years depending on the fabric. Laundries typically will change clothing every 2-5 years on when the garment has too many holes. I have never known of a laundry to have failing garments in the field that weren’t clearly destroyed.
Q: I presently work in a refinery that does not restrict wearing of man-made fiber clothing under 2112 compliant FR coveralls. Is this a concern?
A: Yes. I would only wear AR garments or natural fibers under NFPA 2112 garments. Melting materials are very dangerous in arc flash or flash fire even as underwear. This is required by NFPA 2113 the NFPA 2112 User Standard.
Q: Who (site/contractor/or contractor employee) is required to know when it is necessary to de-energize when outside contractors are used?
A: The owner of the equipment takes on the liability of the equipment. Hiring a contractor is no defense for solid safety. Ignorance is no defense for solid safety. A qualified contractor is the key but most companies do not know how to pick a qualified contractor. If you have a large company and do not have qualified electrical workers to assess your contractors, hire a quality safety company to evaluate, audit and approve some contractors you can choose from. This is a good way to maintain safety in a plant when you don’t have internal expertise.
Q: Is it the company’s responsibility or the employees for the cost of the clothing?
A: The employer is required to provide PPE but clothing falls into a fuzzy area. Some require the employees to purchase shirts and pants and provide face shields and flash suits. Most companies provide all the AR and flash fire rated clothing as PPE.
Q: Any known incidents of bras igniting under heavier arc rated clothing?
A: I have seen two under shirts but never seen it under a flash suit.
Q: What level of protection is needed for incident energy below 1.2 cal/cm2?
A: No protection is required. We recommend still wearing AR daily wear.
Q: Are earrings considered a conductive article?
A: Earrings are not listed in the standard but 130.6 (D) says, "Conductive articles of jewelry and clothing" shall not be worn. Some companies make an exception for studs, but any article of jewelry which falls from the body could cause an arc flash, so most companies do not allow earrings.