When we consider the expansion of electrified technologies under green new deals, it is evident that an increasing number of workers will require arc flash PPE to ensure their safety. More workers are being exposed to high-power machinery, and the combined heat, pressure and electrical dangers present in an arc flash scenario make these accidents a serious threat to their lives.
Wearwell has shared with the PCIAW® what considerations they have made to increase the quality of their arc flash PPE. Every improvement made to these garments makes a huge difference because, when all else fails, high-quality PPE can save the wearer’s life.
Manufacturing High-Quality Arc Flash Workwear: Unique Challenges and Solutions
What is arc flash and how can PPE protect against it?
Arc flash incidents pose significant dangers to workers in industries where electricity is a primary power source, such as construction, oil and gas, and utilities.
An arc flash can occur when an electrical current jumps through the air from an energised conductor, creating an explosion of intense heat and energy that can reach temperatures up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat generated during an arc flash can cause severe burns, and the pressure wave created can throw workers across the room, leading to multiple injuries. In addition to this, the high-intensity light produced during an arc flash can cause blindness, which may be temporary or permanent, depending on the duration of exposure.
Given the significant risks associated with arc flash, protective workwear is essential to minimise the harm that could be inflicted on workers. Arc flash workwear is designed to protect the wearer from the thermal and pressure effects of an arc flash incident, providing a barrier between the worker’s skin and the intense heat generated during an arc flash. Arc flash workwear also protects workers from electrical shock and arc blast hazards.
Designing arc flash PPE for real-world use
One of the critical components a risk assessor should be aware of when assessing arc flash is redundancy. Redundancy refers to the incorporation of multiple protective layers worn by the worker where arc flash has been identified as a potential hazard. By wearing multiple layers of protective workwear, the wearer is protected should one layer be compromised. This redundancy reduces the risk of injury should an arc flash incident occur.
Manufacturers like Wearwell can add additional features to the workwear that further enhance its protective capabilities. For example, the inclusion of inner cuffs on sleeves and legs can help to prevent heat from entering the garment and injuring the worker. Additionally, workwear that incorporates breathable fabric can help to regulate body temperature, preventing the worker from overheating while wearing protective gear.
However, while modern fabrics and newer more efficient designs can offer additional protection to workers, it is essential to note that it is not a guarantee of complete protection. Lighter fabrics are just one of many features that manufacturers can incorporate into the design of arc flash workwear to enhance its wearability, however, workers must use the workwear as directed, and in conjunction with other safety measures, such as electrical safety training, to minimise the risk of injury.
How Wearwell can offer workers safety
In conclusion, manufacturing arc flash workwear that offers optimal protection and functionality to workers is a complex process that requires manufacturers to consider several factors. Finding the balance between protection and comfort means manufacturers must pay attention to every detail to ensure that the workwear offers the best protection possible.
By continuously collaborating with several high-quality European fabric mills and utilising its in-house design and manufacturing capability, Wearwell can create high-quality bespoke arc flash workwear that meets the demands of workers across a range of industries. It is important for clients to speak with credible suppliers who possess adequate knowledge of safety standards in order to ensure the supplied PPE meets the user’s safety criteria.