Getting workers to wear arc flash PPE is a big problem for industry. We can try to scare them by showing images of burn victims, arc flash accidents and other gut wrenching graphics. We can train
workers and demonstrate how arc flash PPE performs by showing actual products following an exposure or videos. Here is an example video of an old arc flash suit being tested at a laboratory. However these techniques are small parts of an overall comprehensive solution.
The best way to train workers on arc flash PPE is to first understand how workers learn using basic adult education techniques. That’s a big leap for many of us who didn’t go to Teacher’s college, including myself! I self-educated on how to train workers on arc flash PPE and have learned through lots of experience. That experience has taught me to better understand adult learning principles, including Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains; cognitive (thinking), affective (feelings) and psychomotor (physical). Each of these break down into additional subsets so refer to the sources listed below for additional information.
Within the context of arc flash PPE
Cognitive: this is the easiest of the three learning domains. Here we explain the basics of arc flash PPE. We teach workers about how it’s rated and when to use it. This includes instruction on arc ratings including the differences between products and how to read a label.
Affective: this is a little harder because we need workers to feel why arc flash PPE is important. Arc flash PPE can save your life and workers need to associate feelings with its necessity. In doing so we reinforce the requirement to wear protection from an arc flash and its devastating effects. We get the best use out of testimonials from arc flash survivors here, specifically workers who can explain how they were saved from serious injuries (or death!) by wearing arc flash PPE.
Psychomotor: the hardest of all, but most beneficial. We ultimately need workers to stand up and try on their arc flash PPE. This is necessary to fully understanding how to use arc flash PPE. Worker need to jump in and try the equipment on before they can learn how to properly don/doff their PPE. During these steps we need to teach workers proper techniques for wearing arc flash PPE, such as taking the weight off of their legs before pulling on a pair of bib-overalls (so not to trip over!).
Document your arc flash PPE using an Electrical Safety Program. This is where you define what is arc flash PPE and what protection levels are necessary as “rules and tools” of your organization. Without an Electrical Safety Program you are not in compliance with either NFPA 70E or CSA Z462.
Arc flash PPE training can include eLearning with a hands-on practical application session to properly cover the psychomotor component above. In my experience training is more effective in a blended learning model (https://unlimitedppe.com/blended-learning/). This allows workers to achieve a prerequisite level of knowledge before any hands-on session with an instructor. The Electrical Safety Training System (ESTS) for Electrical Workers in either the USA or Canada includes over 1 hour worth of training specifically on Arc Flash PPE. Employers can follow this by having a short, traditional Instructor-led training session with their actual PPE so workers receive a full two part learning experience.
Follow up on training with competency validation in the field. This can be performed as part of the NFPA 70E and CSA Z462 requirement for annual electrical safety auditing. Employers are required to audit field work at least once per year to verify that workers are using their arc flash PPE correctly as per their Electrical Safety Program. ESPS Electrical Safety Program Solutions Inc. provides audit services including licensed documentation that can be used by employers for a “do-it-yourself” solution.
Provide workers with sufficient resources to effectively manage their arc flash PPE. This ensures optimal worker success when you reinforce training with resources including practical user guides that show step-by-step instructions on how to pre-use inspect, care and use their PPE.
Never settle for status quo. Arc flash PPE is constantly improving with new lighter weight fabric solutions and faceshield/hood window lens technologies. Every year employers should be reviewing their existing arc flash PPE by inspecting its condition and repairing or replacing as necessary. Improvements in arc flash PPE such as Oberon’s True Colour Grey near clear lens technology increase both worker safety and productivity. My next post will be “Seeing is Believing” and will provide a deeper dive into this new innovative technology.
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Anderson, L. W. and Krathwohl, D. R., et al (Eds.) (2001) A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Allyn & Bacon. Boston, MA (Pearson Education Group)
Bloom, B.S. and Krathwohl, D. R. (1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals, by a committee of college and university examiners. Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. NY, NY: Longmans, Green