Electrical Safety Clothing
Electrical contractors are responsible for installing and keeping the lights on at both commercial and residential buildings. Both inside and outside electrical contractor work can involve consultation and work on construction sites during the planning and building side, which presents both high voltage and low voltage electrical hazards.
The main hazards that electrical contractor safety clothing needs to protect against are arc flash and electric shock, but also visibility hazards when work involves construction sites.
National Safety Apparel manufactures electrical safety clothing equipment including hi-vis and arc flash PPE that should be a part of every electrical contractor’s daily workwear in any situation or task. Contact our customer service for electrical safety clothing equipment questions or reach out to a sales rep for more information about specific needs.
Arc Flash Hazards
Electrical contractors perform a lot of work on construction sites where commercial and residential buildings are being constructed, repaired and renovated. That means repairing, updating and installing equipment related to breakers or switches and wiring.
Arc flashes can be caused by dust, accidental dropping of tools on live electrical equipment, condensation, corrosion, and installation. On construction and building sites, these risks have a substantial probability of exposing electrical contractors and other workers within range to an arc flash incident that could be severe or deadly.
During construction or repairs, the probabilities of these factors causing an arc flash incident are too great to risk not wearing proper electrical contractor safety clothing such as arc flash PPE and arc rated clothing.
An arc flash assessment should always be done before doing any work on exposed electrical equipment that isn’t deemed safe. Arc flash personal protective equipment is the last line of defense against an incident and arc rated clothing should always exceed that of the hazard for protection against burns caused by an arc flash. Full coverage protection from an incident may include coveralls, jackets, and hoods as well as arc rated base layers so that no article of clothing ignites or contributes to further injury in the case of being exposed to an arc flash. ArcGuard® arc flash kits contain arc flash faceshields, coveralls or coats and optional rubber voltage loves to provide complete and customizable arc flash protection for electrical workers and contractors.
A good portion of the work done by electrical contractors that doesn’t involve the planning and blueprint portion is installing and maintaining issues related to wiring, testing and identifying electrical problems. This includes wires, transformers, circuit breakers and the like. Working with any electrical equipment presents the risk of a shock hazard.
The larger the voltage used by the type of equipment inspected or repaired, the greater the risk and higher amp of electric shock is possible. Contractors and any workers in this industry should take precautions to prevent these hazards and wear electrical safety clothing as the last line of defense to reduce the injuries that could be caused by these incidents.
Electrical insulating rubber gloves are extremely important for any electrical work for protection against both arc flash incidents and electrical shock. Workers and contractors at times may disregard wearing gloves due to familiarity with their work and avoidance of these hazards over time, general discomfort of gloves, and lack of dexterity or having damaged gloves.
Electrical rubber insulated gloves systems consist of leather protectors worn over the electrical insulating gloves to protect them from cut, puncture and abrasion damage that may compromise the safety and effectiveness of the voltage rated gloves. Optional FR liner gloves can be worn under the rubber voltage gloves to reduce discomfort.
Electrical insulating gloves are tested according to ASTM D120 and rated by classes 00-4 based on maximum use voltage for protection they provide from and the proof testing. ArcGuard Rubber Voltage Gloves are electrically tested before shipment and available in classes 00, 0 and 2 in red, black and yellow with kit options.
When selecting rubber voltage gloves, choose a larger size when measuring if a hand is between sizes. Consult National Safety Apparel’s rubber voltage glove guide for more details.
Using hand tools near or on energized equipment and during installation or repair can be a hazard for electrical shock as well as an arc flash incident. While preventative measures and hierarchy of controls should be followed to eliminate any electrical hazards and risks such as an arc flash, hand tools used by electrical workers are something that cannot be avoided. Insulated electrical tools that are compliant with NFPA 70E and ASTM 1506 that are tested for working on live electrical equipment should be used so that tools are not a cause of an electrical or arc flash incident.
Arc flash blankets, or arc suppression blankets, are meant to be used in underground work, in confined spaces and to provide a protective barrier from irregular shaped line hardware. They can also be used to cover equipment in the area that is not being worked on but is near an area where energized equipment may be live.
Like arc flash PPE, suppression blankets should be compliant with NFPA 70E and the electrical arc blanket test method, ASTM F2676. Arc suppression blankets do not have an arc rating (APTV). Rather, they are determined for a maximum fault current or a break-open threshold.
Always conduct an arc flash assessment before determining the type and rating of electric arc rating of any electrical safety clothing equipment needed for any electrical work.
As mentioned, electrical contractors are called upon to evaluate, install, and repair electrical equipment both inside and outside of buildings under construction or being built. Visibility is always an issue on construction and building sites due to forklifts, cranes, telehandlers and other motorized equipment being used to carry out tasks. Electrical contractors are at risk for struck-by hazards like any other construction worker on a worksite in addition to arc flash and electrical hazards.
Hi-Vis FR workwear is a seamless fit for electrical contractors for daily FR while assessing or performing work and maintenance on commercial or residential construction sites. FR hi-vis clothing has the ability to reduce struck-by hazards and protect against burn injuries that could be caused by an arc flash incident.
Electrical contractors can choose from several effective hi-vis FR clothing options because their work does not necessarily occur near a major roadway or heavy traffic and may not need to meet ANSI 107 class standards. Standards for hi-vis safety clothing in ANSI 107 determines the type of color and amount of reflective material needed on clothing worn by workers depending on proximity to roadways and certain levels of traffic. Electrical contractors can choose ANSI 107 or non-ANSI 107 hi-vis FR options that will keep them seen and safe at any worksite.
Type O, or off-road, can be worn where work isn’t taking place near high volume vehicle equipment on public access roadways. Classes are discerned by background material of hi-vis apparel as well as its reflective tape and the tape’s width. If work does take place near a public access roadway, then Type R, Class 2 or 3 hi-vis apparel is needed.
For more explanation on ANSI 107, check out ANSI 107 simplified on National Safety Apparel’s blog.
Hi-vis apparel must also be clearly labeled as flame resistant or non-FR. National Safety Apparel offers hi-vis FR color options that are ANSI 107 compliant in fluorescent yellow and fluorescent orange. Learn more about the best choice of hi-vis apparel colors.
Check arc ratings of hi-vis FR apparel and consider your needs after an arc flash assessment has been completed on any work involved energized equipment.