The Essentials of Arc Flash PPE Maintenance

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Arc flash Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and their Arc Thermal Protective Value (ATPV) is essential in many workplaces to keep workers safe from arc blast related injuries such as eye damage and burns.  However, putting on the right PPE for the job alone does not guarantee safety.  The PPE itself must be properly maintained in order for it to function correctly and keep the wearer safe.  Fortunately, arc flash PPE maintenance can be very easy if you keep these simple tips in mind.

Caring for your FR workwear starts with keeping track of how old it is.  It is recommended that you have five sets of arc flash clothing, washing and wearing each set only once per work week.  When you follow this guideline, 100 percent cotton  garments last 12 to 16 months, 88/12 cotton/nylon blends last 18 to 30 months and 93 percent Nomex blends last 2 1/2 to 4 years.

Laundering is also an important part of FR clothing maintenance.  Dirt, oil and other contaminants can wear down a garment’s flame-resistance, so be sure to wash your fire-resistant workwear as soon as you can after it gets dirty and dirty PPE should never be re-worn without washing.  If you have the option of laundering at home, you should.  Industrial laundering is less gentle and may shorten the life of the garment.  FR clothing should be washed in mild detergent (no bleaches) and in warm (not hot) water.

Though it may seem obvious, damages to FR clothing can make them less effective.  It is important to check your PPE regularly and repair (according to the manufacturers instructions and FR testing regulations, of course) or replace, if needed.

Similar guidelines should be used in maintaining your fire-resistant and arc flash gloves, as well.  Just as with your FR clothing, arc flash gloves should be kept clean and mild detergents should be used.  Gloves should also be checked for debris embedded in the thick rubber.  Foreign objects can compromise the effectiveness of the gloves and, if found, are good reason for having your gloves electrically tested for safety.  Even if no debris is found, it is recommended that you have your gloves electrically tested twice each year to make sure they can protect against high voltage and air tested before each use.  To air test, simply hold the sleeve closed and roll to trap air inside.  If no air escapes, the glove is free from holes.  Store arc flash gloves properly between uses in cool, dark places that are not near chemicals or heat sources.  Make sure that they are clean and dry before storing and that no other objects can cause them to lose their shape.

If you keep these tips in mind, your PPE can last longer and protect you best.  If looking to replace your PPE, find trusted brands like Carhartt, Bulwark, DragonWear and many more at Working Person’s Store.

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