What Standard Governs Arc Flash Protective Rainwear?

ASTM F1891, Standard Specification for Arc and Flame Resistant Rainwear, establishes minimum performance specifications, test methods, and other suggested information – including a sizing guide and purchasing specification – for rainwear used to protect workers from momentary exposures to arc flashes or flame.

Garment Requirements

The standard includes several physical requirements for arc protective rainwear:

  • Leak Resistance: The standard specifies appropriate test methods and performance criteria to ensure garments are made from appropriate materials and have sufficient seam construction to meet requirements for leak resistance.
  • Markings and Reflective: Garments should have markings and reflective materials that are permanent in nature, non-conductive, and that do not inhibit the rainwear’s performance.
  • Tear Strength Resistance: Compliant rainwear fabric is tested using method D1117 for trapezoidal tear resistance, using an average of the five highest peak loads. Rainwear material must achieve a minimum of 6lb in the warp direction and 6lb in the fill direction to meet ASTM F1891.
  • Closures and Finishings: Fasteners/closures – along with fabrics, stitchings, tapes, and coatings – shall be nonconductive. Any pieces that are conductive shall be covered with a layer of rainwear material on the inside between the closure and the wearer, so as not to increase heat transfer and burn injury. Additionally, these items shall not negatively impact garments’ flame resistance or thermal performance.
  • Labeling: Rainwear shall be permanently marked with size, style, manufacturer, compliance with ASTM F1891, arc rating (ATPV or EBT ) and care instructions

Thermal Performance Criteria

ASTM F1891 requires specimens to be tested and establishes minimum criteria for thermal performance:

  • Flame resistance: Test Method D6413 shall be used to determine flame resistance, with a char length R307N-FYE-LRGno more than 15 cm. Garments shall not melt and drip, or continue to burn more than 2 seconds after the ignition source is removed. Rainwear must meet this requirement both “out of the box,” as well as after five cleanings consistent with manufacturer care instructions (or, in the absence of manufacturer guidance, three cleanings consistent with AATCC Method 135).
  • Electric arc resistance: Using Test Method ASTM F1959, rainwear shall be tested to determine and report the arc thermal performance value (ATPV), heat attenuation factor (HAF), and breakopen threshold energy (EBT). Testing should take place after three washings consistent with manufacturer direction or AATCC Method 135 and one drying. Test Method D3776 is to be used to determine weight of the material sample used for testing, after cleaning.
  • Arc rating: Arc rating must be at least 5.0 cal /cm2
  • Response Characteristics: The standard requires afterflame time, breakopen, charring, dripping, electric arc ignition, embrittlement, melting, and shrinkage to be reported for two typical exposures at least equal to the arc rating and two typical exposures two or more times the arc rating.

Note: Description of garment and thermal performance properties paraphrased from ASTM F1891. 

ASTM F1891 does not apply to electrical contact, electric shock, or flash fire hazards (flash fire protective rainwear is governed by ASTM F2733). The standard was last updated in 2012; a copy of the current version of ASTM F1891 can be purchased through ASTM.

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