Power Generation Safety PPE
Natural gas, hydro, wind, solar, and coal plants convert resources into the energy and power that we depend on every day. It is easy to take this for granted and forget that this conversion does not occur naturally. The workers who help produce, install, and maintain the equipment needed to process these resources are working tirelessly and often in the face of unique work hazards.
Arc Flash Hazards
Arc flash is a hazard that is inherent to almost every sector of the power generation industry.
Fast Facts about Arc Flash:
- An Arc Flash is an energy discharge that forms when a fault occurs in an electrical circuit
- Electrical arcs produce some of the highest temperatures known to occur on Earth
- Burn injuries from arc flashes can be severe and sometimes fatal
- Arc flashes are often reported incorrectly as fall injuries due to the flash causing workers to fall from power lines and other elevated equipment
While these hazards will rightly astonish anyone outside of the power generation industry, for those in the field, these risks go with the territory. As such, seasoned workers can become complacent about these dangers. Wearing proper arc rated, flame resistant clothing with full-body coverage will keep workers protected and reduce the impact of injuries caused by an arc flash incident. Check out the NSA blog for additional information about arc flashes and the proper arc flash PPE.
Working on switchgear in a wind turbine, solar substation, or in a hydroelectric power plant are all situations where the risk of an arc flash is present, even when equipment is considered de-energized. Planned and scheduled work on any equipment may have mechanical issues that could lead to a potential arc flash incident. Providing accessible and comfortable PPE options are essential for protecting workers against workplace hazards. Click here for more information on why providing personal PPE to each, individual worker is important now more than ever.
Personal protective equipment is the last line of defense for workers in any industry with industrial risks like arc flash hazards. Assuming that substations, turbines, and panels are always energized while working on them, wearing proper arc flash PPE can prevent an arc flash incident from causing potentially serious and fatal injuries.
National Safety Apparel’s arc-rated clothing and arc flash PPE is flame resistant and compliant to NFPA 70E. This means the FR/AR clothing will not ignite or melt to the body of the wearer and will reduce the severity of burn injuries when exposed to the flame from the arc flash incident. The same is true for full-body arc flash PPE, which includes arc flash hoods and faceshields, coveralls and coats as well as rubber voltage gloves and arc-rated base layers. When implementing PPE the wearer significantly reduces the severity of potential burn injuries from an arc flash.
Electric Shock Hazard
Power generation equipment involves electric systems to create its source of power, which leaves workers vulnerable to the risk of electric shock. Not all PPE is created equal. No matter the task, from basic repairs to more significant work involved on or near high-voltage equipment, power generation workers are advised to choose PPE that accounts for protection against electric shock.
When in doubt, always wear PPE. Equipment or certain parts that may be “de-energized” should be handled with caution and the proper PPE should be worn to protect from the hazards that equipment may present. Arc flashes and electrical shock can affect workers without donning PPE such as gloves or using approved tools during these tasks.
Electric insulated voltage gloves are the proper PPE to be worn when working on power generation safety equipment or any energized equipment in the power generation industry. The electrical glove and leather protectors should be worn together even when working on equipment that is considered de-energized. The leather protectors provide the wearer with comfortable electric shock protection and prevent potential cuts and punctures that could compromise the electrical safety glove.
Any work on energized equipment or systems in power generation facilities that require the use of tools can potentially expose workers to an arc flash incident and electrical shock. Using non-insulated tools can contribute to the shock and burn injuries caused by those hazards. Implementing insulated tools is a smart choice to curtail potentially deadly hazards caused by hand tools.
Power generation facilities and outdoor equipment can put workers at risk for extreme temperature-related hazards. PPE is often the final safeguard in the event there is an arc flash or flash fire incident, whereas wearing the proper workwear can prevent heat and cold stress.
Weather-related distractions for workers in any industry, especially when working on energized equipment and other electrical related tasks in extreme outdoor conditions, can cause workers to lose focus or impair decision making thereby compromising their safety.
Heat stress is not exclusive to working outdoors. Work in confined spaces with high temperatures such as substations and switchboards inside of equipment can lead to heat stress as well.
The correct PPE with flame-resistant, arc-rated base layers can play an important role in preventing injuries or incidents from heat or cold stress.
When working around energized equipment with the risk of an arc flash being present, all layers, from the bottom up, need to be arc-rated and flame resistant.
When selecting arc-rated base layers, it is important to know what level of protection is needed. An arc flash assessment needs to be conducted and the arc rating for PPE and apparel should exceed that of any arc flash hazard.
The performance of base layers plays a role in determining worker comfort and protection from hazards such as heat stress or cold stress. Keep in mind that all arc-rated clothing is flame resistant, but not all flame resistant clothing is arc-rated. Selecting base layers that are arc-rated while reducing moisture buildup with wicking technology is key to comfort, encouraging compliance, and important in overall safety.
Moisture buildup plays a role in heat and cold stress as much as skin temperature. Base layers with moisture-wicking properties provide arc flash, flame-resistant protection, and the ability to help prevent heat and cold stress by reducing moisture buildup and keeping workers comfortable and dry.
Protection from power generation hazards are at the forefront of National Safety Apparel’s mission to provide workers with safety apparel that will offer protection if these hazards occur. Power-generation safety PPE solutions include protection in the event of arc flashes, flash fires in natural gas-fired power plants, electric shock, and heat and cold stress when working in extreme weather conditions.