An Iowa State OSHA declaratory order has been petitioned to Iowa Occupational Safety and Health concerning linemen wearing short-sleeved flame-resistant, arc rated shirts along with rubber insulating gloves with protectors and rubber insulating sleeves (Classes 0-4) that cover the whole arm. Their intent was to reduce heat stress for the workers, with summer temperatures sometimes climbing to 100°F or higher and the heat index making the heat even worse.
The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives sent in the petition.
A meeting was held in July 2015 to discuss this order, with representatives from IAEC, IBEW, Mid American Energy, and Alliant Energy weighing in.
IOSHA’s decision was that IAEC would not be in compliance with 29 CFR 1910.269(l)(8)(v) and 29 1910.960(g)(5).
The state OSHA believed that since rubber sleeves are not arc rated that they would not be adequate to protect the arms from arc flash. This is unlikely, and IF a rubber sleeve does burn a worker, in our experience and testing, it will be because it has ignited (VERY rare, if ever, in practice). The sleeves and rubber gloves were removed from the arc rated glove standard because some utilities protested that it would be a waste of money to rate them because these utilities believed they provided excellent protection. ArcWear and e-Hazard felt this would be good information in a design test because many will do well, but all gloves and sleeves are not created equal. Different colors of gloves perform quite differently in ignition, and different brands in the same perceived colors perform differently. Our official company stance and belief is that the use of a long sleeved shirt underneath a rubber sleeve is not really necessary for arc flash protection. If a rubber insulating sleeve ignites, a thin layer of arc rated material will make little or no difference to the protection level. We would be better off rating gloves and sleeves so companies know what level they can perform.
We hope Federal OSHA will side with this reasonable approach, and perhaps ASTM will reconsider and find a means to rate gloves and sleeves using ASTM F2675 or another applicable standard.