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Arc Flash PPE

What is Arc Flash PPE?

Arc Flash personal protective equipment (PPE) consists of specially designed and appropriately tested products suitable for use by workers that need protection from the thermal effects of an arc flash hazard.

Employer Requirements

Employers are required to ensure workers within the arc flash boundary wear appropriate full body protection when it is determined that arc flash PPE is necessary based on an arc flash risk assessment. Refer to all applicable Acts, Codes and Regulations including Standards like CSA Z462 and NFPA 70E for full arc flash PPE requirements

How to Select Arc Flash PPE

Appropriate arc flash PPE is selected based on the potential thermal incident energy exposure, as determined by an employer’s arc flash risk assessment. For a work task on a specific type of equipment this can be done using the incident energy value in calories per square centimeter (cal/cm2) or an Arc Flash PPE Category number, but not both. Arc-ratings for all arc flash PPE are provided in cal/cm2 as performance ratings for selection purposes. The arc flash PPE arc-rating must match or exceed the thermal incident energy value required by the employer’s arc flash risk assessment. It is noted that despite the employer’s best efforts their arc flash PPE may not provide adequate protection from arc flash hazards

What Is An Arc-rating?

Arc Flash PPE is tested to determine its protective ability, this is called an arc rating. This testing is done on the fabric or a finished product using various different testing methods according to applicable Standards. The ASTM Standards are explained in this article, found in the library section of this website..

ATPV, EBT or ELIM?

There are various different types of arc ratings. In North America, the most popular product options have an ATPV or EBT rating. An arc rating is reported as either ATPV or EBT, whichever is the lower value. The ELIM is a new way to evaluate the arc thermal resistance properties to select PPE with a lower risk of a worker skin burn injury. All of these values are provided in calories per square centimeter (cal/cm2).

ATPV, Arc Thermal Performance Value, the incident energy level at which there is a 50% probability of sufficient heat transfer to cause the onset of a second-degree skin burn injury.

EBT, Breakopen Threshold Energy, the incident energy level at which there is a 50% probability of the formation of holes or tears in the layer closest to the skin.

ELIM, Incident Energy Limit, the highest incident energy data point without breakopen and without reaching the onset of a second-degree skin burn injury

The Arc Flash PPE Myth!
Thermal Incident Energy doesn’t directly correlate to Arc Blast. Detailed equipment labels that imply 40 cal/cm2 is a limit and say “No Safe PPE Exists” are wrong. Oberon Arc Flash Suits are available for 40, 65, 100 & 140 cal/cm2 levels.

Arc Flash PPE Category Method*
in lieu of Incident Energy Analysis
Arc Flash
PPE Category
Minimum Arc-Rating for Arc Flash PPE
1 4 cal/cm2
2 8 cal/cm2
3 25 cal/cm2
4 40 cal/cm2
*Only for specific work tasks and equipment and verified parameters as per the Standard
If an Arc Flash Hazard exists, the Risk Assessment shall determine the arc-rated PPE that workers within the arc flash boundary shall use. Employers can use one of these two methods for arc-rated PPE selection;

1) Incident Energy Analysis
2) Arc Flash PPE categories

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