Developing Product Expertise at PK Safety

Posted on Friday, December 15th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

Over the past 70 years, PK Safety has built a good reputation as being a trusted provider of high-quality occupational safety products, superior customer service, and factory-authorized services. How did we do it? Our success is based on being able to stay up-to-date in the safety industry that is constantly evolving and to satisfy our customers’ needs by providing complete solutions and ensuring exceptional customer experience. We understand that there is a vital need to create deeper and more meaningful relationships with customers and manufacturers.

People are the most important asset to our company. We continuously work on bringing together a highly-skilled team of technology-focused safety experts. We achieve this high level of professionalism by actively participating in training sessions provided by manufacturers that address occupational safety issues, and offer a variety of protective solutions.

Highlights of Rasco’s Training

One of the latest product presentations delivered by Rasco FR’s representative, DJ, gave an extensive overview of the latest and upcoming products. The new items are developed by talented engineers at Rasco, specifically designed for the protection of oil, petrochemical, and electric utility workers from arc flash and fire hazards.

Per DJ, Rasco FR’s team is paying close attention to what customers are asking for and is relentlessly working on adding new features to the existing products, as well as designing innovative occupational safety solutions. Rasco’s representative provided us with valuable insights on how their protective clothing line has been improved this year. For instance, their popular shirts now have a new safety feature – pocket flaps – to prevent objects from falling out of pockets while the wearer is working. The new jeans by Rasco have some spandex added to cotton that ensures a relaxed fit and more flattering sizing for various body types.

Here is a list of featured clothing items offered by Rasco:

  • 100% cotton two-tone, baseball-tee-style, 7.1 oz. FR Flameshield Henleys are available in a variety of colors. It’s a great product for a good price, which corresponds to Rasco’s core belief that safety comes first and that it should always be at a fair price.
  • Best-selling 10 oz FR carpenter pants are available in various colors
  • Hi-vis waterproof 11.5 oz FR cotton jacket is ANSI class 3 level 2
  • Popular plaid shirts now have new colors added: black, blue, green in addition to buffalo plaid
  • Woman’s clothing is offering perfectly-crafted sweatshirts for a better look, fit, and protection
  • Comfort bomber jackets are made of 88% cotton/12% high tenacity nylon fabric and are 7 oz FR Flameshield certified
  • 100% polyester hi-vis safety vests are a little bit more expensive but provide extra quality and comfort due to their 1-size-up adjustability on the sides and the Velcro front closure

Our team craves product knowledge. The more training we get, the better our customer service. Having a well-trained workforce is important for us here at PK Safety. In occupational safety industry, the demand for technical expertise is high, and we are happy to partner with companies like Rasco FR that allows us to be product experts that are not just familiar with new product features but also can explain all the benefits of different safety products to customers.

For more details, call us at 800-829-9580, or visit us online:


How to Protect Against Arc Flash Hazards

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

An arc flash is a dangerous release of energy produced by an electrical fault in the air from one phase to another phase, or from one phase to the ground. The elements released during an arc flash event are: intense light, sound, pressure, and extremely high temperatures. Arc flash hazards exist in many professional environments, but those who work in or around energized electrical equipment are at the highest risk: maintenance workers, electricians, and operators engaged in working with electrical generation, transmission, or distribution systems. When an employee is in close proximity to an arc flash event, serious injuries, burns, and even death can occur. PK Safety carries a full line of arc flash protection from top brands like Oberon and National Safety Apparel to keep workers safe.

NSA Arc 65 Multi-Layer ArcGuard Kit bundles 65 cal pieces together and creates an easy all-in-one solution: a coat, an arc hood, safety glasses, a hood bag, a gear bag, leather protectors, insulating gloves, and a glove bag.

arc rated kit

Remember that all arc-rated garments are flame-resistant (FR), but not all FR garments are arc-rated for arc flash protection. When layering arc-rated garments, it is necessary to figure out the combined arc-rating of your garments and make sure it is consistent with NFPA 70 requirements.

Arc Rated Rainwear

If you are looking for arc-rated rainwear, we offer Arc H20™ Class 3 Rainwear Kit that comes standard with the Arc H20™ 30 in jacket which has hi-vis reflective trim, and the Arc H20™ Bib Overall. The kit also comes with a fluorescent orange mesh bag to allow the rainwear garments to drip dry, keeping them odorless for the next use.

Even when in rainy conditions, don’t forget to use an Arc rated balaclava, hard cap, and facesheild:

Faceshield and Hard Cap

Oberon’s 21AGR12AF-C500 is the lightest arc flash faceshield on the market today. The polycarbonate formula allows you to experience distortion-free, full-color spectrum viewing without color tints.

The Oberon’s ARC13-BH-NB FR Sock Hood is made to be worn with the ArcShield ARC12 faceshield to provide the 13 cal/cm2 ATPV-rated protection over the entire head.

 ARC13-BH-NB FR Sock Hood from Oberon

PK Safety experts can guide you through the selection process once you know the risk/hazard level of your workspace. Check out our previous blog post on how to conduct a Hazard Analysis/Assessment: The Shocking Need for Electrical and ARC FLASH Safety.

If you have questions or would like help selecting the right protective equipment for your application, please give us a call at 1-800-829-9580, or go to





Discover Amazing New Cut-Resistant and FR Gloves: Northflex Cold Grip Plus 5 and FRGrip Plus 5

Posted on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

Hand cuts and wounds are preventable, yet they still account for roughly 30 percent of all workplace injuries in the US. How do you choose the right cut resistant glove for your application? First, evaluate what types of gloves you are using now and if they do the job. Do you have any new projects that will require new PPE? Then, identify solutions – do you need to switch to a new brand or just need to upgrade the cut-level protection currently being used. Then, talk to a trusted supplier or distributor (like @PKSafetydotcom) to make sure you have your workers’ hands protected with the highest quality and the proper cut protection rated PPE for your job.

The new generations of gloves by Honeywell — NorthFlex Cold Grip Plus 5™ and FRGrip™ Plus 5 — are ideally suited for the tasks where workers need the high level of cut protection as well as gloves that offer protection for the cold and the arc flash without having to give up comfort and dexterity.

1. NorthFlex Cold Grip Plus 5™

NorthFlex Cold Grip Plus 5

An excellent tool for avoiding accidents, NorthFlex Cold Grip Plus 5™ gloves provide double-duty protection with the high-level of cut and slash resistance, coupled with superior cold weather protection. These amazing gloves feature a high-vis orange outer shell made of a highly cut-resistant fiber blend that enhances worker safety and an inner layer made of brushed acrylic thermal. The ¾-dipped foam PVC coating helps resist abrasion and offers grip in both wet and dry environments and prevents liquids from penetrating the glove, helping to keep workers hands dry and clean. While flexible enough for hand movement, these gloves are less bulky than other models of thermal protection gloves and offer excellent dexterity for jobs that require tactile sensitivity. NorthFlex Gloves provide both superior insulation and extra comfort. They are the perfect solution for the following applications: construction, mining, masonry work, oil and gas, sheet metal and glass handling, trash collection, recycling, transportation, refrigeration industry, snow cleaning, forestry, etc.

Key features:

  • Outer shell is a 15 gauge seamless knit, lightweight and thin for excellent dexterity
  • Thermal interior is soft and provides extra cushion for palms of hand
  • Gloves retain flexibility at low temperatures, recommended for temperatures down to -15° F
  • EN511 Level 0 permeability to water (Level 0 = water permeation after 30 minutes)
  • ANSI cut level 4 and EN511 level 2 resistance to contact cold
  • EN388: Abrasion 3, Cut 5, Tear 4, Puncture 3

2. NorthFlex FRGrip™ Plus 5 Flame Retardant Gloves

NorthFlex FRGrip™ Plus 5 Flame Retardant Gloves

Hand injuries due to flame or arc flash can be devastating. Wearing the wrong kind of glove can add to injuries because a traditional fiber glove will melt onto the skin when exposed to heat. The FRGrip™ Plus 5 glove is composed of inherently flame-retardant and heat-resistant fibers that will not degrade under high heat and will provide reliable hand protection from flash fire hazards. Not just a fabric swatch, the entire FRGrip glove was tested to the glove standard for arc flash including the liner, the polymer-dipped coating, and overedge. Neoprene and nitrile, the bi-polymer dipped coating provides excellent heat, grease, and oil resistance. The orange color allows for a faster visual identification in hazardous environments. Applications include oil, gas and petrochemical industries, construction, mining, sheet metal and glass handling, trash collection and recycling.

Key Features:

  • 13 gauge, Kevlar® blend, seamless knit shell
  • Textured palm for better grip in wet or dry applications
  • Kevlar® fiber blend also offers excellent cut protection
  • HRC level 1 (ATPV = 5.6 Cal/Cm2 )
  • ANSI cut level 4/EN388 cut level 5
  • Static dissipative, with a surface resistivity of < 2.5 X 109
  • Longer 4-inch cuff to allow glove to be tucked under FR clothing
  • EN511 Level 0 permeability to water (Level 0 = water permeation after 30 minutes)
  • EN388: Abrasion 3, Cut 5, Tear 3, Puncture 2

Important to Know:

Work in gloves

1. NorthFlex FRGrip™ Plus 5 gloves are not dielectric and do not provide protection against electrical shock. NorthFlex Cold Grip Plus 5™ and  FRGrip™ Plus 5 gloves are cut-resistant but not cut-proof. It is not recommended to wear them while operating a moving or serrated blade without safety-guard.

2. NorthFlex FRGrip™ Plus 5 gloves provide protection up to a specified heat/energy level (5.6 Cal/Cm2) without melting. However, thermal heat can still be felt through the glove. A worker can receive burns if the heat is too high. Remember to always check if the PPE that is being used has an arc rating equal to or greater than the calculated incident energy.

Safety experts are here to help you with finding the proper hand protection solution for your application. Call us at 800-829-9580, or visit us online at


The Shocking Need for Electrical and Arc Flash Safety

Posted on Monday, October 24th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

Electricity has been generated in power stations since 1882. Due to increased efficiency, world energy consumption was cut down by 1.5% in 2009, for the first time since World War II. The continuous increase in efficiency will result in less electricity needed for a given demand of electrical power. But since the demand will continue to grow (mostly because of the electrification of heating and transportation and the growing economies in developing countries), the world energy consumption is projected to increase from 549 quadrillion Btu in 2010 to 815 quadrillion Btu in 2040,  according to International Energy Outlook 2016 (IEO2016), released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Over the last decade, occupational safety experts have become aware of the increased frequency and the severity of electrical arc flash hazards. Utility, solar, wind and power generation industries, hospitals, universities and colleges, food processing and packaging plants, breweries, bakeries, dairies, paper and pulp manufacturers are just a few of the environments where arc flash events may occur. The danger of exposure to arc flash hazards is on the rise due to an increase in overall energy use, higher system voltages, and available fault currents.

What is Arc Flash?

An arc flash is the light and the heat produced from an electric arc supplied with sufficient electrical energy to cause substantial damage, harm, fire, or injury. Arc flash hazards/blasts typically last less than 1 second. The blast is of an extremely high thermal energy level, up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, measured in Cal/Cm2. It also causes a pressure wave from expanding metallic material into the vapor.

Electric blasts can most commonly happen during these activities:

  1. Voltage testing by an electrician or maintenance worker;
  2. Removing bolted panel covers;
  3. Inserting or removing circuit breakers;
  4. Catastrophic failure of electrical equipment during normal operation from wire anomalies or internal failure;
  5. Troubleshooting live electrical circuits;
  6. Racking and unracking circuit breakers during normal operation.

OSHA Standards

Published by OSHA on April 11, 2014, revisions to OSHA 1910.269 address the frequency and magnitude of arc flash hazards in high-voltage utilities and industrial facilities that operate power generation, transmission and distribution equipment.

What are NFPA 70E and CSA Z462?

The US National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 70E Standard and the Canadian CSA Z462 Standard define the requirements for occupational electrical safety. Both standards define best practices for performing work near energized electrical equipment that includes work plans, hazard analysis, engineering control, workforce training, and proper use of PPE. Any person working with energized electrical equipment operating at 50 volts or more must comply with these safety standards.

Resources for Reference:

NFPA, NFPA 70E Online Standard for Electrical Safety

The NEC® (also referred to as NFPA®-70) is issued by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA®) and addresses proper installation and use of electrical systems and equipment in buildings and structures so as to help protect people and property from potential hazards.

The main types of systems and equipment addressed include:

  • Installations of electric conductors and equipment within or on public and private buildings or other structures (mobile homes, recreational vehicles, floating buildings), and other premises (yards, carnivals, parking lots, and industrial substations);
  • Installations of conductors and equipment that connect to the supply of electricity;
  • Installations of other outside conductors and equipment on the premises;
  • Installations of optical fiber cable;
  • Installations in buildings used by the electric utility (office buildings, warehouses, garages, machine shops, and recreational buildings that are not an integral part of a generating plant, substation, or control center).

How to Conduct a Hazard Analysis/Assessment

NFPA 70E-2012 includes Table 130.7(C)(15)(a) for AC (Alternating Current) tasks and 130.7(C)(b) for DC (Direct Current) tasks. These tables provide common work tasks and the corresponding required clothing.

The requirement for assessing the workplace to determine if hazards are present (including the electrical hazards of shock/arc flash) has been in effect for 40 years.

NFPA 70E-2009 made several revisions to the requirements. One significant revision was the inclusion of the requirement to consider the design of the overcurrent protective device and its opening time, as well as the condition of maintenance as part of the arc flash hazard analysis.

1926.960(g) Protection from flames and electric arcs.
(1) Hazard assessment. The employer shall assess the workplace to identify employees exposed to hazards from flames or from electric arcs.
(2) Estimate of available heat energy. For each employee exposed to hazards from electric arcs, the employer shall make a reasonable estimate of the incident heat energy to which the employee would be exposed.”

Why Do We Recommend Using Oberon Brand Electrical Safety Gear?

Oberon logo

Oberon has been in the safety business for almost 75 years. They are a manufacturer of high-quality safety spectacles, face shields, cover goggles, and welding helmets, focusing on Arc Flash protection for the last 30 years. To maintain consistent quality and delivery, Oberon manufactures its specialty products in the USA.

Three Types of Arc Flash Suits from Oberon

Overview of the three different series of Arc Flash suits and face shields that come with them:

  • CAT Series FR Treated Cotton is the most economical choice, perfect for infrequent use; however, it is less durable than Arc Series and is not as comfortable as LCI suits;
  • LCI Series Inherently FR is more economical than the Arc Series and is the best option for semi-frequent users of the Arc Flash PPE;
  • Arc Series with a True Color Grey face shield is extremely comfortable and durable, suitable for frequent users who need the suit every day.

What does HRC Mean?

Hazard/Risk Category (HRC) is the term used within the current NFPA 70E and CSA Z462 Electrical Safety Standards. It describes the potential thermal energy of an arc incident to which the worker could be exposed and the arc-rated PPE requirements. Arc Rating from 0 to 7 is expressed in calories with 7 being the highest electrical hazard risk requiring the highest protection level. Since the electrical hazards do not stop at 40 calories, Oberon created additional categories: ORCs. This table provides an overview of HRC and ORC categories classification.

Electrical Arc Safety Hazards

Types of Hazards/Risk Category Task Hazard Range PPE Protection Minimum
HRC 0 No hazard Garments constructed of non-melting, untreated natural fiber
HRC 1 Task up to 4 calories 4 calories
HRC 2 Task up to 8 calories 8 calories
ORC 2 10 calories
HRC 3 Task up to 25 calories 25 calories
HRC 4 Task up to 40 calories 40 calories
ORC 5 65 calories
ORC 6 100 calories
ORC 7 140 calories

Selecting the Right Protection

PK Safety and Oberon Company are trained and can assist with guiding you through the selection process once you know the risk/hazard level of your workspace.If you have questions or would like help selecting the right equipment for your application, please give PK Safety folks a call at 1-800-829-9580, or go to


FR Layering and Moisture Management Systems

Posted on Thursday, September 15th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

By Melissa Gerhardt, FR Workwear and Arc Flash PPE Product Manager, NSA

What is an FR Layering System?

In general FR layering is a combination of two or more arc rated materials combined together to achieve higher protection and/or performance. FR layering systems are specifically made up of 2 or more arc rated garments that are worn together to achieve higher protection and/or performance. All FR layering combinations need to have an actual arc test performed to verify the official arc rated of the layered materials. Trying to estimate a layered system arc rating by adding together the arc ratings of the individual layers is not a valid approach. There is no formula to calculate system arc ratings and you may be required by OSHA to provide an actual test report as proof of your PPE’s protective value. FR layering systems are a great way to ensure the level of protection your PPE is providing exceeds your calculated potential risk.


What is a Moisture Management System?

All FR layering systems are not created equal. While most layering systems provide an increases level of protection, not all FR layering systems provide increased performance. A moisture management system is an FR layering system that is comprised of high-performance garments.

These systems also utilize optimal moisture management by combining both base layers and outer layers that work together to wick away moisture and allow it to evaporate quickly.

Moisture Management takes moisture wicking one step further with a combination of hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-hating) fibers. A high-performance shirt with moisture management technology has a drying rate of 2-3 times faster than a standard cotton shirt. This allows you and your shirt to stay dry and comfortable. As moisture quickly evaporates is also creates a natural cooling effect by pulling heat away from the body along with the moisture. This allows the body’s natural cooling processes to function properly. Garments that work with your body, not against it, can aid in the prevention of heat stress.

Moisture Management takes moisture wicking one step further with a combination of hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-hating) fibers. A high-performance shirt with moisture management technology has a drying rate of 2-3 times faster than a standard cotton shirt. This allows you and your shirt to stay dry and comfortable. As moisture quickly evaporates is also creates a natural cooling effect by pulling heat away from the body along with the moisture. This allows the body’s natural cooling processes to function properly. Garments that work with your body, not against it, can aid in the prevention of heat stress.

What are the benefits of choosing a high-performance moisture management system from National Safety Apparel®?

All of our proprietary moisture management systems feature inherent FR protection. This provides you protection and performance for the life of the garment.

These systems also provide unmatched comfort. This is achieved by utilizing ultra-lightweight fabrics that start out soft and flexible from day one. These fabrics go into garments that breathe rather than weighing you down and trapping in heat. These systems also utilize optimal moisture management by combining both base layers and outer layers that work together to wick away moisture and allow it to evaporate quickly. This combination of lightweight, breathable, and moisture management work with your body to reduce the risk of heat stress, keeping you cool and dry.

The secret to achieving this high level of performance and comfort without sacrificing protection is our proprietary technology. Our CARBONCOMFORT™ and TECGEN Select™ garments are powered by OPF, a proprietary blend of fibers that combine high thermal protection, superior performance, and lasting comfort.

We are proud to be able to offer you even more high-performance FR options with the addition of DRIFIRE® to the National Safety Apparel house of brands. DRIFIRE has an excellent reputation as being one of the leaders in moisture management with its inherent drirelease® technology.

This highly innovative brand is widely recognized for its innovative inherent FR products and superior performance which is comparable to the world’s top athletic brands. This includes their exceptional base layers. Choosing the right base layer is important when creating your FR layering system. One benefit that both DRIFIRE and our FR Control 2.0™ base layers have is they are anti-microbial to reduce odors. FR Control 2.0™ base layers include the additional benefit of proactive body temperature regulation. This phase change technology works with your body to keep you cool when it’s warm and warm when it’s cool. This is another reason why our moisture management systems are a great addition to your heat stress reduction plan.

This post was originally published in NSA Blog, September 2016.

If you need an expert advice about the FR clothing, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800-829-9580, or visit us online at, and follow us @PKSafetydotcom.


Arc Flash 101

Posted on Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

Arc flash concerns were first published in 1982 in Ralph Lee’s paper “The Other Electrical Hazard: Electric Arc Blast Burns.” Arc flash hazards were not formally studied until 1993, which is why they are still the least understood electrical hazard existing in most industries. Wikipedia defines arc flash as “the light and heat produced from an electric arc supplied with sufficient electrical energy to cause substantial damage, harm, fire, or injury.”  Because arc flash temperature can reach 35,000° F, which is three times higher than the Earth’s core temperature, the severity of workers’ injuries can be devastating: permanent loss of hearing or eyesight, severe burns, and even death.

Causes of Arc Flash:

  • Unintentional contact between an energized conductor with another conductor or earthed surface,
  • human error including dropped tools that can produce a spark, accidental contact with electrical systems, and improper work procedures,
  • buildup of conductive dust, corrosion or contamination.

Primary Hazards:

  • Thermal radiation and intense heat,
  • pressure wave blast,
  • molten metal.

Best Practices:

1. Risk assessment

The first step in selecting the right protective measures at work place is performing a complete risk assessment. According to ANSI/ASSE Z690.1-2011, risk assessment includes three distinct components: risk identification (finding, recognizing and recording hazards); risk analysis (understanding consequences, probabilities and existing controls); risk evaluation (comparing levels of risk and considering additional controls). This process helps determine safe work practices, arc flash and shock boundaries, and proper PPE levels.

A qualified worker entering the arc flash boundary must be wearing the appropriate PPE. In order to identify the necessary level of protection, the heat energy to which workers are exposed must be calculated. NFPA 70E requires wearing Arc Flash clothing for any potential exposure above 1.2 cal/cm2.

When being exposed to electric arc hazards at work, OSHA requires wearing clothing that must not ignite, melt or continue to burn. Since the amount of energy that workers can be potentially exposed to varies greatly, the level of protection that the clothing provides must match the degree of hazard severity.

2. Full protection+comfort

Arc Flash clothing is meant for continuous wear. While employees have to stay fully protected, sufficient range of motion should not take a back seat. If workers have to wear protective clothing for a whole duration of their shift, they will be looking for the comfortable gear, and will develop personal brand and style preferences. Product reviews can help you make the right decision when looking for the appropriate PPE. We recommend extra comfortable materials such as Nomex® fiber and Protera® fabric. Keep an eye on clothing tags, because they can be flammable. Nomex embroidery or direct printing of logos are possible ways of eliminating this danger.

3. Clothing maintenance

It is important that work clothing must be cared for as instructed by the manufacturer. A general rule of thumb is to wash each set of clothing once a week. If possible, opt to wash at home with mild detergent and warm water, rather than using industrial laundering service that is likely to cause more wear-and-tear. To help clothes last longer, avoid bleach and chlorine-based detergents, as they may break down Arc Flash protective quality of the fabric. Tumble dry your clothes on low.

To sum it up, arc flash is the exposure to the tremendous thermal energy released by an arc fault. In order to select the right Arc Flash clothes for your project, first, perform risk assessment, then check safety ratings of the garments to ensure that they are in line with OSHA requirements, evaluate fabric choices for comfort, estimate costs, find a trusted supplier, and, finally, train your team on proper ways to wear their work clothes.

Arc Flash

If you have questions or would like help selecting the right Arc Flash clothing, please give us a call at 1-800-829-9580, or visit us online at



Flame Resistant Work Clothing Made in the USA

Posted on Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 by Justin McCarter

Flame resistant clothing is essential to workers in a number of trades. We’ve found Saf Tech work clothing to be both extremely high quality and an excellent value for electricians, power plant, and utility workers.

Saf Tech clothing was started and continues to operate in Houston, Texas (Texas forever!). They use state of the art manufacturing processes to stay ahead of the requirements imposed by ASTM, NFPA and OSHA. Saf Tech is committed to both US manufacturing and a 100% guarantee that their construction is impeccable. If you have a problem with a Saf Tech garment’s sewing or material, the company will replace it. Period.

As a distributer of Saf Tech work clothing, we have found their products to be superior in material and design to the majority of other options in the marketplace. Contractors working with high voltage electrical find their Saf Tech coveralls to be some of the best, most comfortable work clothing ever. And they really have that Steve Austin, 6-Million Dollar Man look going for them as well.

Saf Tech FR (Flame-Resistant) clothing is designed to protect against potentially fatal flash fire and arc flash events. FR clothing provides the worker a few seconds of necessary escape time by preventing immediate clothing ignition. The majority of severe and fatal burn injuries in these situations are due to clothing igniting and continuing to burn against the wearer and not from the exposure itself.

FR clothing is worn to increase the probability of survival. The aim in the design of both fabrics and apparel is to lower the risk of injury and possible death.

If you have questions about your specific application and which FR clothing would work best for you, please don’t hesitate to call 800-829-9580 for more information.


ARC Flash and OSHA Regulations in 2015

Posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 by Alastar Kerpel

An arc flash occurs when an electrical current leaves its intended path and travels from one conductor to another. This may result in fire, flying objects (traveling at more than 700 mph), blast pressure, sound blast (exceeding 160 dB) and heat (exceeding 30,000 F). If an arc flash makes contact with a person, injury and death may occur depending on proximity of the worker to the source, temperature, and time for the circuit breaker to be disengaged. OSHA last issued an arc flash related rule in 1972.

In April 2014 OSHA issued a new final ruling that harmonizes OSHA 29 CFR parts 1910 and 1926, increases safety, and addresses electrical workers. Workers will be required to wear clothing that covers and protects potentially exposed areas as completely as possible when arc flash hazards may be present. The new OSHA ruling is being implemented in three phases:

  • Estimate Available Heat Energy – Required to meet 29 CFR 1910.269(1)(8)(ii) and 29 CFR 1926.960(g)(2) by March 31st, 2015. What this means to you: employers must assess heat energy risk.
  • FR Clothing – Required to meet 29 CFR 1910.269(1)(8)(iv)(A) through (1)(8)(iv)(C) and 29 CFR 1926.960(g)(4)(i) through (g)(4)(iii) by April 1st, 2015. Clothing must be non-melting, not contribute to the extent of the injury and must not ignite and continue to burn when exposed to electric arcs. An exception used to exist that permitted non-FR jeans greater than 11 oz. This is no longer the case.
  • Arc-Rated Protection – Required to meet 29 CFR 1910.269(1)(8)(v) and 29 CFR 1926.960(g)(5) by August 31st, 2015. Though no citations will be issued to employers failing to provide personal protective equipment (ppe) rated higher than 8 cal/cm squared.

FR Versus Arc Flash Rated Clothing

All arc flash rated clothing is FR (Flame-Resistant) but not all FR clothing is arc flash rated. FR clothing is often but not always rated as HRC 2 (minimum performance of 8 cal/cm2) and referred to as daily wear. FR clothing is required when working on energized equipment greater than or equal to 600 V, clothing ignition is possible directly or indirectly in the work area or when the potential for exposure to more than two cal/cm squared exists.

Rules for Base Layers and Body Protection

Clothing ignition is still possible when wearing FR and arc flash rated workwear. FR and arc flash rated clothing may not have openings that expose flammable layers if the clothing would be “unable to resist breakopen”. This means sleeves must be fastened to wrists, be tucked in, collars buttoned, etc. When layering arc flash rated apparel, the overall level of heat or calorie protection isn’t the sum of the individual layers. The user may also require personal protective equipment for the head and face for total compliance.

Rules for Head Wear and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The table below identifies the minimum head and face protection required based on levels of exposure to arc flashes. Head and face protection may include faceshields, hoods, and balaclavas.

Incident Energy Exposure Minimum Head and Face Protection
2-8 cal/cm2 Single-Phase, open None (except hard hat)
2-4 cal/cm2 Three-Phase None (except hard hat)
9-12 cal/cm2 Single-Phase, open Arc-rated faceshield with a minimum rating of 8 cal/cm2
5-8 cal/cm2 Three-Phase Arc-rated faceshield with a minimum rating of 8 cal/cm2
13 cal/cm2 or higher Single-Phase, open Arc-flash rated hood or faceshield with balaclava
9 cal/cm2 or higher Three-Phase Arc-flash rated hood or faceshield with balaclava

It is likely that workers will require multiple garments (clothing, head wear, etc) to maintain safety while performing multiple tasks. Now it’s time to check for compliance.

How to Comply With OSHA

After your company identified potential sources of arc flashes in the workplace, you ensured your team was wearing FR clothing when appropriate. Now it’s time to review your company’s inventory and check clothing labels for compliance. Arc flash ratings may be substituted for Arc Thermal Protective Value (ATPV) on apparel tags. Clothing may also feature a Hazard Risk Category (HRC) representing the minimum levels of protection:

Hazard Risk Category Minimum Performance
HRC 1 4 cal/cm2
HRC 2 8 cal/cm2
HRC 3 25 cal/cm2
HRC 4 40 cal/cm2

You may also see NFPA 70E or ASTM on clothing labels indicating a flame resistant item being defined in arc rated industry standards. For example a clothing article that’s NFPA 70E and ASTM 1506 (clothing) rated will be able a sustain a flame without damaging more than six inches of the item, doesn’t have an afterflame that lasts more than two seconds and doesn’t lead to melting or dripping. This is tested with the ASTM D6413 Vertical Flame method.

Your company may need to purchase new or additional arc flash rated clothing.  If you have questions or would like assistance in picking out appropriate clothing, please don’t hesitate to give one of our safety experts a call at 800-829-9580.

Additional Resources:
Arc flash incident energy and protection boundary calculator
Choosing an arc flash analysis vendor
Removal of arc flash hazards