Arc Flash Jackets
Legally, your employer is required to give you arc flash jackets and coats that range between 11 cal/cm² to 100 cal/cm² to protect your upper torso area. However, at times, your employer might not realize that your arc flash jacket is damaged or compromised, at which point, you aren't fully protected from arc flash incidents and other electrical hazards.
Arc flash jackets, and other arc flash clothing, that has come into contact or has been contaminated with flammable substances such as oil, solvents and grease shouldn't be used because the effectiveness of the PPE material is greatly reduced. By law, damaged arc flash jackets and other flame-resistant arc flash clothing are to be replaced before any further work can be done on the job. Refer to ASTM International's safety standard, ASTM F1449-01, for more information.
Damaged Flame-Resistant Clothing
Arc flash jackets will last longer if proper care goes into storing them after use. If any arc flash jacket is torn or damaged, they should be repaired professionally because special techniques are required to properly repair the damaged arc flash clothing. Trying to repair the jacket yourself can reduce the effectiveness of the arc flash jacket's protection.
Proper Heat Exposures
In order for arc flash jackets to effective, they must be rated appropriately to protect against heat exposure. Different heat intensities exist, so NFPA 70E, the electrical safety standard for workplaces in the United States, has set up a heat energy rating system for flame-resistant fabrics. Calculating the proper heat exposure can be done using a mathematical formula or using specific computer software. Employers are required to make the best estimate based on the arc flash exposure that might occur while working on the job. For sample mathematical calculations for arc flash boundaries, check Appendix D in NFPA 70E for more information.
Ensure that the arc flash jackets you’re given is not too tight or too floppy. You want to wear clothing that doesn’t catch on rough surfaces or on corners. Also, you don’t want to wear an arc flash jacket that isn’t too tight because it can be distracting and uncomfortable. Remember, stay safe.