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The ArcWear™ e-Hazard.com Electric Arc and Safety Newsletterprovides a quick update on Arc Rated and Flame Resistant Clothing issues and news from OSHA and standards committees. The newsletter is FREE, reaches over 14,000 people and will bring you up to date on the issues that surround flame resistant clothing for flash fire hazards and the electric arc. For previous newsletters or to sign up, visit http://www.arcwear.com or http://www.e-Hazard.com
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Fines by OSHA on Electrical Hazards
Most citations include electrical hazards.
Click here to see the citations and our commentary.
Burn Up the Myth:
1.2 cal/cm² PPE requirements
Q: Fred (not his real name) wrote with this question: “We’ve done an Arc Flash Study, and we have disconnects labeled as < = 1.2 cal/cm², Category 0 PPE required. Can we operate them outfitted with a hard hat, safety glasses, hearing protection, short sleeved cotton shirt and no gloves?”
A: 1.2 cal/cm² is the threshold for 2nd degree burn. As such, 70E, Table 130.7(C) 16 defines the clothing requirements for this level of protection to include, in addition the items you have listed, a long sleeved 100% non-melting natural fiber shirt and heavy duty leather gloves. If you were testing for the absence of voltage, you would need to include voltage rated gloves due to the shock hazard.
The rationale behind this is that, while the 1.2 cal/cm² of exposure is calculated at 18″ to the torso, the workers hands and bare forearms would be much closer and, therefore, exposed to a higher incident energy. Thus, the likelihood of a 2nd degree burn is significantly higher.
If we use a test case of 42 Ka of fault current and a clearing time of .015 seconds @ 480v, this would yield 1.1 cal/cm2 of energy at 18″. Using the same parameters at 9″, where the workers exposed hands and bare forearms would likely be, would result in 3.0 cal/cm² of energy. Exposed skin will certainly burn at 3.0 cal/cm², but I cannot speculate if a burn at this exposure would require a skin graft or external medical treatments.
I would recommend following the PPE requirements of this exposure level per the NFPA 70E table definition as listed.
NFPA 70E-2012 Changes Garment Design and End User Requirements
Arc Rated vs. Flame Resistant (FR)The NFPA 70E committee, being an work practice standard, has sought to end confusion over the misuse of the term “FR”. FR is a very generic term which only has meaning in the framework of the hazard. Flash Fire clothing should meet a flash fire standard (such as NFPA 2112), electric arc hazard clothing should meet an arc standard (such as ASTM F1506), and firefighter clothing should meet a firefighter standard (such as NFPA 1975 or 1971). NFPA recently provided a clear statement against misusing NFPA 701 in garments. NFPA 701 is not allowed in garments and such use is a misuse of the standard opening the company to liability when labeling garments as flame resistant per that standard since it is only for “wall coverings”, “curtains”, “furniture” and other building uses NOT clothing. ASTM F1506, F1891, ASTM F2733 and NFPA 2112, NFPA 1975, NFPA 1971 are applicable for clothing in arc, flash fire, wildland firefighting, and structural firefighting respectively. Bottomline: Don’t buy FR, buy by the proper standard.
No increase in arc-rating for adding cotton, wool or silk under arc rated clothing. While still allowed for use, the NFPA 70E committee clearly prohibits using cotton undergarments for increasing arc rating — though this is allowed by NESC and by ASTM F1506. This more conservative approach has been justified by NFPA 70E due to the variability of undergarments (since no one has tested every undergarment) and by the variability of arc exposures (since calculating an 8 cal/cm² for a label does not mean you will never have >8 cal/cm² in a real life event). Preventing non-FR t-shirt ignitions will save a few lives per year. This can be accomplished by using an arc rated undershirt or ensuring that the outer suit is always at the arc rating required for the work. For layering data, see your garment manufacturer or check out ArcWear.com’s arc rated layer data. Bottomline: Consder arc-rated t-shirts.
Non-melting zippers, findings and logos.NFPA 70E 130.7(C)(11) states that AR clothing must meet certain performance characteristics beyond those in ASTM F1506. “Clothing consisting of fabrics, zipper tapes, and findings made from flammable synthetic materials that melt at temperatures below 315°C (600°F), such as acetate, acrylic, nylon, polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene, and spandex, either alone or in blends, shall not be used. Informational Note: These materials melt as a result of arc flash exposure conditions, form intimate contact with the skin, and aggravate the burn injury.” This is a poorly worded section since it may not make garments safer but could make them more costly. There are flame resistant zipper tapes, but when normal zipper tapes are covered properly, they can comply with ASTM F1506. While I might prefer flame resistant zipper tapes, there is a danger in using them without thinking. Exposed zipper tapes can breakopen earlier than the fabric, making the garment unsafe at exposures below the garment rating. If these garments are worn UNDER a high level of protection or if sufficient arc rated materials are worn underneath, they might be unsafe but the end user should evaluate. Non-FR zipper tapes could work well if the garment is properly designed but they do make open the garment to a little more risk in some events. ASTM F1506 should be the guide, but we have seen some zipper cover designs which are in the market which are dangerous. Arc tested zippers (NOTE: Zipper tapes are not arc rated but can be evaluated in a garment form) can solve issues of ignition if a zipper is not properly protected in the garment design.
Reading the informational note, it could be understood that the committee did not intend to eliminate the use of common zipper tapes unless they could form intimate contact with the skin. This is yet to be cleared up. This is what ASTM F1506 would be interpreted to require today. The key is that zipper design and installation should not make garments less protective than their arc rating and the zipper must be operable for removal after an arc event.
Logos are not included in findings because NFPA 70E refers the user to ASTM F1506 which allows non-FR logos as long as their design does not increase the extent of an injury. See NFPA 70E 130.7(C)(13)(d) which points to ASTM F1506 for trim and logos. Bottomline: Watch out for exposed zippers in arc rated clothing.
New Arc Ratings based on ASTM F1959-06 with two layer “pre-ablation burn” measurements.Some clothing systems have been down-rated due to a phenomenon often called the “double hump”. Some clothing systems, specifically heavy layers over lighter layers, will sometimes allow burns on skin BEFORE the outer shell begins to “ablate” or open up to allow cooling immediately after the arc. The committee made a change to the test methods in 2005-2006 addressing this, but NFPA 70E pointed to the 1999 version of the standard F1959 which did not address this, so some system ratings were artificially higher than those tested since 2005. This applies to hoods and flash suits also, even though these systems are not inherently unsafe because of this phenomenon. The real issue is when arc flash suits are worn with no clothing underneath as substantial research by ArcWear.com for ASTM F18 and Westex shows that the pre-ablation burns do not occur when any additional garment is worn underneath the fabrics (hoods should be excluded since they do not touch the body at the fabric and are tested to > the arc rating of the fabric). A coverall tested over a shirt would potentially display this effect and could allow second degree burns in some odd cases. New systems should have a ASTM F1506-08 or new label. Bottomline: Do not throw away an old arc flash suit due to the new pre-ablation burns change.
Proper rounding of arc ratings now done at the ASTM F1959 level.Starting in 2012, ArcWear at Kinectrics now round ASTM F1959 arc test ratings to the proper level for ASTM F1506. F1959 does not require rounding since it is a test method, but to avoid confusion in the market, all test reports will be rounded as required in the labels per ASTM F1506. Many labels have ratings to the 0.1 place which is not technically correct beyond 9 cal/cm². Ratings from 10 cal/cm² and greater will be to the nearest cal/cm². This is helpful for end users as 11.9’s are 39.9’s are now 12 and 40 cal/cm² respectively. This is what the ASTM F1506 standard has required for several years but was not being implemented at the garment labeling level.
ASTM F1959, ASTM F2178, ASTM F887 fall protection arc testing and mannequin testing are scheduled at the Kinectrics Lab in Toronto on the dates above.
Ship materials or clothing to:
13113 Eastpoint Park Blvd.
PH: 502-333-0510 arctesting@ArcWear.com
We must receive materials or clothing one week before the test date for sample preparation, or make arrangements to ship to the lab in Canada. New and non US/Canadian Customers must make payment before test date. Testing is offered on a first come/first served basis with priority for consulting customers.
$100 per material for prep/washing and cutting panels; ($200 for items arriving less than 7 days before test date to cover preparation overtime)
$200 for shipping a signed hard-copy report internationally
No guarantee is made of when testing will occur; we do all in our power to test within one month of receipt.
All ArcWear.com testing is performed at Kinectrics High Current lab in Toronto, Canada. Kinectrics is an ISO 17025 accredited lab by the Standards Council of Canada.
Commitments for not selling melting materials as “FR”. Call on OSHA to BAN NFPA 701 from clothing labels.
Many on the market still sell supposed “flame resistant polyester”. This is a misnomer. There is no standard currently published or allowed by law which allows polyester vests, etc., to claim flame resistance. ArcWear recently received an e-mail from NFPA agreeing that any company selling garments claiming to meet NFPA 701 are misusing that standard. NFPA 701’s scope is CLEAR.
NFPA 701 states that it applies “to fabrics or other materials used in curtains, draperies, or other window treatments….” Then the standard commences with a list including: table skirts, table linens, display booth separators, textile wall hangings, window curtains, stage or theater curtains, vertical folding shades, roll-type window shades, hospital privacy curtains, window draperies, fabric vertical shades or blinds, horizontal folding shades, swags, fabric horizontal shades or blinds, plastic films, with or without reinforcement or backing, when used for decorative or other purposes inside a building or as temporary or permanent enclosures for buildings under construction, awnings, tents, tarps, and similar architectural fabric structures and banners.
Other companies cite ASTM D6413 which is ONLY A TEST METHOD with no pass/fail criteria. Test methods are for research. Specifications are normally required for liability protection. Claims made from a test method would be held to a higher standard of the applicability of that test method.
Many companies do only offer true arc rated reflective vests and a new company has joined the ranks:
Now OccuNomix has joined the ranks!
Click here to read the news release from OccuNomix entitled “OccuNomix Incorporates New Flame Resistance Standards Into High Visibility Workgear“.
Join the club and do what is right. (Let us know and we’ll publicize it for free.) Purchase your arc rated vests from a company who does not sell deceptive vests.
Don’t purchase from a company who sells NFPA 701, FTMS 191A, 5901 or 5903 clothing. These standards either do not apply to clothing or have been out of print for many years.
Purchase F1506, NFPA 2112, ASTM F1891, ASTM F2733 or NFPA Fire standards. ANSI 107-2010 prohibits making “FR” claims about vests which do not meet these proper standards. Some manufacturers think they get around the claim by putting ANSI 107 in one label and NFPA 701 in another label. They tell me they want to do what the market wants. The market wants the least expensive and most comfortable things that will protect their people, not deception.
NFPA 70E Document Information Page Update
Free NFPA Webinar as posted on the NFPA 70E document information page:
“Smart Grid and NFPA Electrical Safey Codes and Standards” Webinar, Sponsored by the Fire Protection Research Foundation: March 21st and June 26th
The US National Committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission (USNC/IEC) appointed Mikhail Golovkov and Hugh Hoagland of ArcWear.com as Experts on the IEC TC 78 WG 13 and IEC 61482-1-1, the International Arc Flash Testing Standard.
from ISSA / International Social Security Association / Section for Electricity, Gas and Water.
Electrical Safety News
Electrocution in Cornfield due to Irrigation System
02-24-2012 13:15:39 PM
Citations won’t be filed after two young farm workers were electrocuted while removing tassels from corn in rural northwestern Illinois last summer, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced January 25th. The investigation found lightening may have struck the field’s irrigation system. About 72 people working for St. Louis-based Monsanto Corp. were de-tasseling corn when the accident occurred.…»
Teen Electrocuted on High Voltage Tower
02-24-2012 13:11:51 PM
So much energy was pulsing through the transmission lines of the electric tower that Blake Hubbard climbed that the teen may not have touched anything before he was shocked and fell. A report submitted Monday by Duke Energy officials to the state utility commission indicated Blake, 14, could have been shocked because he might have touched a transmission line or because he had climbed too close to the high-voltage equipment, a Duke Energy spokeswoman said Wednesday. …»
Workman Nearly Killed in England Due to Electrical Explosion from Generator
02-24-2012 13:11:22 PM
No enforcement action will be forthcoming due to an electrical explosion from a generator that threw a workman to the ground, blinded him in one eye, and required a metal plate in his broken wrist. Click here to follow this article from 1/31.…»
Energized Wire Hurts 2 Electricians in FL
02-24-2012 12:52:27 PM
Two electricians were hurt in an explosion while preparing a job proposal, not realizing that a live wire had energized the power box. Click here to read more on this electrical accident from 1/31.…»
Critical Injuries in TX Power Plant Explosion
02-24-2012 12:51:39 PM
Two construction workers were injured at an East Texas Power Plant in Nacogdoches on 1/31 when 440 volts arced, causing an explosion. They had severe electrical burns and were listed in critical condition. OSHA 1910.269 and 1926 along with NESC cover this type of work in a utility setting. Click here to read more about this electrical […]…»
Con Edison Video Documentary on FR Clothing: The Importance of Wearing It
02-24-2012 12:50:04 PM
ConEdison tested FR clothing in real-life utility situations inside manholes, transformer vaults, and bucket trucks. The testing gives individuals the opportunity to view the results of various clothing options. Click here to view the 5 minute video of testing results.…»
Battle between electrical safety inspections and regulatory burden
02-24-2012 12:38:20 PM
An Iowa rule requiring farmers to have safety inspections after performing electrical work amounts to an unnecessary regulatory burden and should be rescinded, Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday in filing a formal objection that is expected to result in a legal battle. …»
Don’t Pee on Electrical Equipment! Incident in Substation Results in Injuries and Power Outage in UK
02-24-2012 12:36:37 PM
In the US we frequently see a cartoon of a little boy urinating on something in the back window of a truck. Thought is might sound a bit strange. This kind of behavior can lead to death in a utility substation. A metal thief was seriously injured during an electrical substation explosion. An accomplice indicated […]…»
An Arc Flash by Any Other Name… Switchboard “Blowback” Injury in NZ.
02-24-2012 12:33:25 PM
A disused sawmill in NZ was the site for injuries received during a switchboard “blowback”. Awareness of all employees is critical. Training to stand to the side of equipment (when possible), proper installation for safe operation and maintenance and remote operation when practical. Some level of arc flash training for operators, and some level of arc […]…»
Mobile Crane & Overhead Power Line Incident in BC
02-24-2012 12:27:00 PM
Several workers sustained injuries while assisting a mobile crane hook-up equipment near overhead power lines. Both were knocked to the ground following a bright flash of light. One is in very serious condition, while the other suffered burns. Click here to read the report from BC on 2/17/12.…»
ASTM F1701 Standard Revision
The F1701 – Standard Specification for Unused Rope with Special Electrical Properties has been revised to F1701-12.