How can short sleeved shirts be HRC rated?

red background with burning question

Q.  I just received a list of arc rated clothing available in an industry catalog.

Three of the items are short sleeved arc rated shirts. NFPA 70E categories HRC 1 and HRC 2 require LONG SLEEVED arc rated shirts. How can short sleeved shirts be HRC rated? I understand the material may be arc rated to HRC 2, but if the clothing doesn’t cover the body properly it cannot protect the body in the event of an arc flash.

A.  The NFPA 70E standard does call for HRC 2 to have long sleeves but shirts are only one option.

If the fabric is HRC 2, then anything made from that fabric could be HRC 2  IF used in the proper manner.  All the manufacturers struggle with this.  The market often requires HRC labels on all clothing.  Could you wear one of these shirts in energized work? Yes, but not by itself. Some companies require an additional cut resistant, arc rated sleeve to be worn over the shirt sleeve when doing energized work meeting the requirement for long sleeves.

Other companies require rubber gloves and sleeves and allow the short sleeved shirt to be worn under the system.  The requirement in the standard is to protect the whole body.  The idea of the rubber gloves and sleeves being used with short sleeved shirts was addressed in the Preamble of the NEW OSHA 1910.269.  This should help clear up these types of questions.  The point is to protect the people and to have clothing that doesn’t make their life hard for a once in a lifetime event. The HRCs have become commonly used for the rating level but this makes it difficult when marketing some products. NOTE: Many companies will begin calling the HRC’s, ARC’s (Arc Rated Category) in the near future since the term HRC has been removed in the new NFPA 70E 2015.  The term AR PPE Level is used in Annex H.3 for when calculations are done but the old idea of HRC with cal/cm2 levels is still prevalent in the industry and will likely stay.  ARC (Arc Rated Category) could give way to just putting the cal/cm2 level in the next few years as this is really more useful.

Hugh Hoagland

Hugh Hoagland

Hugh Hoagland is the foremost tester of clothing and PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Read more about Hugh.

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