One of the bigger risks electrical workers encounter when working with live circuits is electric arc. An electric arc is created through an accidental short circuit. The duration of the arc is short, but the effects can be devastating. The electric arc acts like a powerful explosion, sending out a shockwave, molten metal and high-intensity radiant heat. This combination of elements can cause a worker's clothing to ignite or melt instantly or cause the clothing to break open, resulting in severe skin burns.
Wearing the right flame resistant protective clothing will protect the worker from the thermal hazards associated with electric arc incidents and minimize skin burns. Suitable fire-retardant materials provide crucial protection against electric arc in the following ways:
- By providing thermal insulation between the body and the heat source.
- Not igniting, melting or breaking open which seriously aggravates injuries.
NFPA and ASTM have established the following standard test methods and requirements for protection against electric arc incidents:
- NFPA 70E requires that general electrical employees wear clothing that meets the requirements of ASTM F 1506.
- ASTM F 1959 and provides test methods for how to calculate arc ratings. Indicating a fabric's resistance to the incident energy caused by an electric arc incident.
TenCate Protective Fabrics provides a range of materials that meet and surpass the standard requirements for protection from electric arc flashes.