Our Dangers of Improper Wear series examines many of the common mistakes people make when wearing arc-rated and flame resistant (AR / FR) clothing, with real-world arc flash video footage that shows just how substantial each mistake can be. In each episode, you’ll find powerful examples of why wearing the right PPE, and wearing it properly, makes all the difference – with expert commentary from Scott Margolin, Vice President of Technical.
The common theme in our Dangers of Improper Wear series is ensuring that the garments you put on each day are worn properly and provide adequate protection against the hazards you face at work. Whether you’re faced with potential flash fire or arc flash hazards, wearing protective gear properly could save your life.
Beyond wearing untucked AR/FR shirts, meltable bras and base layers, and using flammable insect repellents, sometimes improper wear can simply be failing to wear the right garment to do the job. Specifically, failing to match the arc rating of the garment that you’re wearing to the incident energy of the hazard that you could face. Take a look at the video below which features live footage from two live arc tests, proving that by wearing insufficiently rated protective gear, you’re at risk of being burned and severely injured.
What Happens When Garment Ratings Don’t Meet the Potential Incident Energy of the Hazard?
The first manikin in the video is wearing a CAT 1, 4.1 calorie shirt when exposed to an 8.3 calorie arc. Exposure to an arc hazard rating greater than the garment protection level, has caused the garment to both break open and ignite the flammable base layer worn underneath, which results in devastating damage to the manikin. This translates to significant injury to YOU, as the wearer if not checked.
The second video shows a manikin outfitted in a CAT 2, 9.1 calorie shirt and is exposed to an arc flash of 20.2 calories. An arc of this intensity is not only over the arc rating of the garment but over the break open point as well. Because of this, the garment is unable to provide protection to the potential wearer.
Here’s What You Should Remember
Arc-rated clothing is flame resistant and won’t ignite or continue to burn and that’s what saves your life, however, if the arc incident energy is greater than the arc rating of the garment itself, you can overwhelm the insulation and still get burned through the garment.
Please ensure that the arc rating of your outer layer or your layered garment system meets or exceeds the hazard you may face.