Should We Wear Arc-Rated or HRC Gloves?

red background with burning question

Q. Do arc rated gloves use HRC/ARC Level codes, or is that reserved for garments?

Should we wear HRC/ARC on glove? I lost track of how official the glove standard is. Is it all done and official or not official yet?

A. The new glove standard, ASTM F2675 – 13, is official, but there is no official statement on gloves receiving or not receiving HRC/ARC levels (The term HRC is removed in 2015 NFPA 70E replaced with PPE level which we call the ARC or Arc Rated Category).

Gloves are mentioned in the ARC Tables, but it is not required that they or anything be labeled HRC/ARC (the ASTM standard is only a test method and has no labeling requirements).  Since the tables include HRC/ARC 3 and 4, those are certainly appropriate to label.  The ARC Levels have minimum cal/cm² associated with them so the gloves could be labeled.  Remember ARC gloves may not have any shock protection unless they are a protector over a rubber insulating glove or unless the rubber insulating glove is ARC labeled. Another issue is how much protection should the hands have.  The calculations are normally completed at 18 inch working distance or more.  If the hands are closer, one should likely use greater protection on the hands, but this has not been determined by NFPA 70E.  Some hand protection is better than nothing, and most of the arc rated gloves on the market are better than a generic glove.

We recently saw a worker who was in ICU 5 days after an event from the arc flash ignition of a cotton/leather work glove operating a 480V device that failed. One thing to consider about the hands: they are the fastest thing to move when the brain decides something is wrong, so if the issue is caused by worker known error, the hands might be moving during the arc.  You can’t out run them, but this might explain why we have so few glove ignitions of rubber insulating gloves.

We have announced the official standard ASTM F2675 glove arc rating standard a few times.  It will likely be in version 2018 of NFPA 70E.  All the leather protectors we have tested work well in arc but will not pass the vertical flame test.  ASTM F18 has begun a new non-leather protector standard which will include truly arc rated gloves.  It will be interesting to see what that committee comes up with.

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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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