Electrical Safety is YOUR responsibility. The electrical safety experts at EPSCO unanimously agree that when it comes to safety, you should “pack your own parachute.” We mean that it’s essential for every individual to understand they are in charge of their safety. Part of that is knowing the rules and how to protect against electrical hazards at work, and the other part is that each person recognizes they are the strongest advocate for their safety.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), although this is the last step in the hierarchy of risk controls and should always be your last line of defense is a significant component of individual safety. Knowing precisely what PPE to wear and when you should wear it can make the difference between injury and death. An in-depth EPSCO Arc Flash Analysis will determine the best PPE for your team to suit up in that’s specific to the equipment and work conditions at your facility.
Once your team knows how to outfit themselves against electrical hazards, it’s essential to understand how to properly store, maintain, and replace your PPE when needed. Shock PPE is only effective when it’s in good working order and adequately rated for the voltage being worked on.
Arc Flash PPE is designed to yield nothing worse than a 2nd-degree burn if it’s appropriately rated for the incident energy. But it’s crucial to realize that all PPE loses its effectiveness over time. Rubbers and plastics degrade or can get damaged even under light working conditions. Following testing and replacement intervals will help you know when to decommission any catastrophically damaged gear.
Gloves should be tested every six months. FR (Fire Retardant) clothing should be washed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and properly stored when not being worn. For more details, a complete list of standards for testing and maintaining PPE can be found in sections 130.7(C)(14) & 130.7(G) of the NFPA 70E.
Even when following the standards, it’s crucial to inspect your PPE before each use. Ensure there are no abrasions, cuts, or other damage that will prevent it from insulating against energized circuits. Even a tiny hole in an FR shirt can lead to serious burn injuries or death. Ensure management understands the actual cost of failing to replace damaged PPE goes beyond the bottom line. And if your company won’t supply you with the new gear because it’s “only minor wear and tear,” then take your FR shirt and tear the sleeve off!
As we like to say at EPSCO – “Take care of your PPE, and your PPE takes care of you.”
PPE needs to be worn any time team members interact with live energized parts that increase the chance of an arc flash event. Even if you’re creating Electrically Safe Work Conditions and following procedures, there are still steps in the process that require PPE.
Opening a disconnect introduces a greater arc flash risk to the serviced equipment. Testing for the absence of voltage with the live-dead-live method verifies the right source was disconnected, and energy is removed from the circuit – But PPE is still required because a conductor is not considered de-energized until it’s been verified 0V.
Arc Flash Analysis is the foundation to building a culture of electrical safety in your workplace. Arc faults release an incredible amount of energy in a fraction of a second. It’s crucial that your arc flash study is up to date and PPE labels are rated for your equipment because voltages have increased over the years. Many machines operate at 500V, up from 440 in the past. Voltages at that level require (0) red safety gloves.
An EPSCO Arc Flash Analysis provides a pictorial representation of PPE guidelines on the label that give your team confidence they’re suiting up in the proper PPE for the task at hand. Our team of safety engineers and experts works on-site at your facility, assessing the equipment your team uses every day to develop a detailed incident energy analysis that’s accurate to your system. Based on our arc flash study, EPSCO creates custom PPE guidelines and equipment labels with easy-to-understand visuals, so your team will have no problem determining the proper PPE for the job.
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