Limiting Liability with a Daily Wear Program

Arc Flash Daily Wear Programs 2 of 5

This is the second post in a series of five posts comparing and contrasting task-based and daily wear approaches to arc-rated (AR) clothing programs. Check out our first post here. Next up (coming soon – be sure to check back!) will be posts taking a closer look at issues like challenges with layering, monitoring and productivity, and key takeaways.

When deciding between a task-based and daily wear arc-rated (AR) clothing system, liability is a significant concern.

Many of these liability issues are illustrated by Brandon Shroeder, who narrowly survived an arc flash while working as an electrician in 2011. Brandon was severely injured while completing a task he’d performed countless times without incident. Only this time, the arc flash suit normally in Brandon’s truck was with a coworker at another jobsite, and he completed the work without the requisite PPE:

Brandon’s story demonstrates many of the liability issues inherent in task-based systems. Task-based systems burden each individual worker with the decision of when to don AR clothing, when it is safe to remove it, and who else in the vicinity may need to be excluded from the flash protection boundary, or required to don AR to enter it. Consider this:

  • Training each employee to this degree is time consuming and expensive. Documentation is required, and the potential for inconsistent and inaccurate application of the rules is enormous. Some workers who are asked to take this responsibility work much more slowly, while others cut corners; one approach is inefficient and the other is unsafe.
  • In too many cases, task-based AR clothing is left at home, at the office, in the locker, or in the truck, and is not retrieved due to inefficiency or urgency, resulting in non-compliant work practice — and occasionally catastrophic injuries or fatality.
  • Nearly 1/3 of arc flash events occur while the worker was certain the equipment was de-energized.  Of course, if there was an arc, it was not de-energized. In a task-based program, once a circuit is no longer hot, a worker can (and often will) remove the AR layer and continue to work in the base, flammable layer.  When the arc occurs, this flammable layer can ignite, dramatically worsening burn injury.  An employer in such situations will still have the medical and associated costs, and OSHA/other liability for failure to monitor appropriate use.

As a result of these liability issues, and the other issues we’ll examine later in our series, many companies opt for a daily wear approach, and still others in task-based systems are making the switch to daily wear. As Brandon points out in the video, “for the same cost of that $400 [arc flash] suit, an employee can be given a $400 allowance where he can pick what clothing he wants to wear.” Doing so will ensure he is protected from the time they get out of their trucks to the time they get home.

Head over to our next post, exploring challenges with layering in task-based systems.

Looking to write a spec for your daily wear program? Need help navigating the industry and identifying the right program type and garments for your workers? Contact us at or reach out to our National Account Executive serving your area.

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