Question on PPE
We recently became aware of a worksite which was auditing a contractor’s PPE for compliance to NFPA 70E and OSHA 1910 standards. A contractor was using the pictured arc flash safety hood. At first glance, it appeared a mistake had been made by the manufacturer inserting a 25 cal/cm² faceshield into a 40 cal/cm² arc-rated hood.
After talking with the contractor, the site electrical safety officer, who had discovered the improper label, found on her investigation that the contractor had inadvertently purchased the hoods without faceshields and then received 25 cal/cm² shields instead of the required 40 cal/cm² shields. Since no one knew to check, the 25 cal/cm² shields were installed in the 40 cal/cm² hoods. As a result of the find, several other arc flash hoods were found to be improperly assembled and underrated.
ArcWear Test Lab, the leading arc rating company in the US, was asked about this manufacturer and found a few manufacturers who had in the past sold hoods without faceshields as compliant with ASTM F1506 but NOT tested to ASTM F2178 as would be required by the hood assembly (both of the manufacturers stated they did not do this now). This is not a recommended practice. All faceshield and hood assemblies are required to be tested to ASTM F2178 as the product is sold. Hoods that only have labels for F1506 have not been tested as an assembly and are relying on the test data of the fabric alone.
One person contacted about this article felt that faceshields should not be removable. We don’t agree; faceshields that can be replaced are important to prevent having to purchase a whole new hood when a faceshield is scarred or old. We recommend replacing shields every 2-5 years.
But manufacturers could consider making different level shields with a different attachment method or something to make them either not fit properly or a means of alerting the end user when replacing with the wrong part. The label was clear, and a competent person should have caught the mistake.
Never replace a shield with an underrated shield or any shield which is not specifically tested with the proper assembly. Purchase replacement shields from the OEM so you receive the right shield when making a replacement.
- Always check PPE labels.
- Purchase from reputable dealers, even online.
- If it is too cheap to be true, it is probably not true.
- Check your contractor’s PPE just like you check your employees’ PPE.
- Train your qualified persons on how to check their PPE.
If you ever question your PPE, take pictures and e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org