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Results of February Survey: Are you using a Hood at HRC 2? (NEW NFPA 70E Requirement)
Is your company using an arc-rated balaclava and arc-rated face shield or an arc flash suit hood to comply with the latest requirements of NFPA 70E for protection to the head at exposures HRC Category 2 (8 cal/cm2)?
March Survey: PPE system greater than 1.2 to 12 cal/cm²
Q: (Do you know) of any studies / documented history conducted on the effects of arc flash events and the medical impact from the pressure associated with the blast? For example, we have a client who has a 100 cal suit available for use. While it would “protect” from the 100 cal arc flash, the impact to the body from a close proximity blast could be severe.
A: I do not want to imply that arc blast is a myth but there is a myth traveling around that you might as well not wear arc flash gear past 40 cal because the blast will kill you. I have heard this hundreds of times and it simply is NOT true.
There are really no full studies of arc blast pressure. IEEE 1584 now has additional data and this should be published in 2012 or 2013 but for now the data is VERY limited. Only one paper below has data and that data has been shown to be based on a microphone which washed out at about 1 PSI. I know of NO deaths from pressure wave. Many knockdowns. All the deaths I know of are from thermal burns from clothing ignition or lung burns from breathing in the hot gasses (usually from the clothing fire or subsequent fires from burning oil [oil filled cables and transformers]). The pressures could be big but anecdotally it isn’t very convincing that there will be lots of deaths from blast alone. I do believe pressure waves can be an issue but it isn’t half as bad as we are currently led to believe by some salespeople. I have done about 100,000 arcs and we can knock a mannequin down but we don’t usually destroy them (I did break an arm off once by putting it across a disconnect). We are not against equipment that eliminates the arc blast, but last month I learned of a group of workers who refused to wear 100 cal suits for a potential 100 cal event because the equipment company trained them and pushed this idea that the blast will kill you and the suit will “leave a nice corpse”. This has NO evidence to support it and leads people to doubt the real science. I challenge the equipment manufacturers to donate – as some have – to IEEE 1584 so real science can be done on this and help to answer a very complicated question without fear and trembling, but with knowledge and integrity. Again, always ask what they are selling. “) “Ignorance isn’t what you don’t know,it’s what you know'; wrong, Yogi Berra.
Here are the papers I have read. There are probably more but this is a good start.
 R. H. Lee, “Pressures developed by arcs,” IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, vol. IA-23, no. 4, pp. 760-764, July/Aug. 1987.
 D. Sweeting and A. D. Stokes, “Energy transfers within arcing faults in electrical systems,” Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Electric Fuses and their Applications (ICEFA), Clermont-Ferrand, pp. 169-178, Sept. 10-12, 2007.
 B. Koch, principal investigator for IREQ, CEA No. 046 D 549 Characterization of Secondary Arcing Faults Part 3: General Summary and Guidelines for Protection against Arcing Fault Effects. Quebec: Canadian Electrical Association, 1991.
 J. E. Bowen, M. W. Wactor, G. H. Miller, and M. Capelli-Schellpfeffer, “Catch the wave,” IEEE Industry Applications Magazine, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 59-67, July/Aug. 2004.
 R. L. Doughty, T. E. Neal, T. A. Dear, and A. H. Bingham, “Testing update on protective clothing & equipment for electric arc exposure,” IEEE Industry Applications Society Magazine, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 37-49, Jan./Feb. 1999.
 Neal, T. E. and R. F. Parry, “Shrapnel, pressure, and noise,” IEEE Industry Applications Society Magazine, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 49-53, May/June 2005.
 R. A. Jones, etal., “Staged tests increase awareness of arc-flash hazards in electrical equipment,” IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 659-667, Mar./Apr. 2000.
Q: We were reviewing the 2012 edition of NFPA 70E and we see no mention of using leggings and switcher coats for 40 cal/cm2 exposures. Can we still use these? The manufacturer’s web site indicates they are still okay, but we are not sure. Can you clarify?
A: Many of the descriptions and specific requirements throughout 70E were “revised for clarity” in the 2012 cycle. These changes were made to emphasize the level of protection required, such as “40 cal/cm2 of protection is required”, rather than indicating the specific components needed for 40 cal/cm2 of protection. The wording in the 2012 edition allows for improvements in technology and does not constrain innovations in protection and safety.
The definition of arc flash suit was specifically changed to allow other systems, like leggings and coats, to be used. The note still mentions coat and pant but these are examples rather than the requirement. The goal is 360 ° protection. Therefore, a long coat with leggings can meet the standard if it does not increase the risk. If a person is crouched doing the switching operation, leggings with a coat would not be sufficient as they could allow energy underneath with resultant burns to the upper legs at less than the arc rating. If the switching is performed in a standing position, leggings and a coat could be fine unless the arc energy in the equipment could come out at the feet. In this case, the clothing underneath would need to be arc rated so it would not ignite.
There are many layered clothing system tests available to review from manufacturers or from the independent test company ArcWear.com
If you use a shirt and pant or coverall from these systems you can achieve the required protection. All you would have to do is add all the proper components to protect the body such as a hood. These ASTM F1506 tested layered systems can be utilized to increase your level of protection. For instance, a brand “x” shirt that was arc rated over a brand “y” undershirt would provide the wearer with a specific level of protection.
I see no reason, or any intent within the standard, that leggings would not be acceptable if they are properly worn and rated at the cal/cm2 of exposure needed and not worn in a situation in which under layers would not be adequately protected from ignition.
ASTM F1959, ASTM F2178, ASTM F887 fall protection arc testing and mannequin testing are scheduled at the Kinectrics Lab in Toronto on the dates above.
Ship materials or clothing to:
13113 Eastpoint Park Blvd.
PH: 502-333-0510 arctesting@ArcWear.com
We must receive materials or clothing one week before the test date for sample preparation, or make arrangements to ship to the lab in Canada. New and non US/Canadian Customers must make payment before test date. Testing is offered on a first come/first served basis with priority for consulting customers.
$100 per material for prep/washing and cutting panels; ($200 for items arriving less than 7 days before test date to cover preparation overtime)
$200 for shipping a signed hard-copy report internationally
No guarantee is made of when testing will occur; we do all in our power to test within one month of receipt.
All ArcWear.com testing is performed at Kinectrics High Current lab in Toronto, Canada. Kinectrics is an ISO 17025 accredited lab by the Standards Council of Canada.
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