The Difference between Arc Flash Clothing and Flame Resistant Clothing
How Arc-Rated Clothing Differs from Other Flame-resistant Clothing
In certain industries, it is vital for employees to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), especially those working in the Oil and Gas industry for example. A common type of protection that has been used by this industry is Fire Resistant (FR) clothing. FR clothing is a type of PPE that is designed to protect workers against heat and flames. However, the level of resistance against this danger can vary in different types of FR clothing, which is why in 2012, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) changed the terminology used to refer to FR clothing, introducing Arc Ratings.
What is Arc Flash Clothing?
Tecasafe Fire Resistant Shirt with Reflective TrimAn Arc Flash is an electrical current that is passed through the air when insulation or isolation between electrified conductors is no longer sufficient to withstand the applied voltage. The extremely high temperatures of these arcs, about four times as high as that of the sun’s surface, can set fire to clothing and severely burn human skin in fractions of a second at a significant distance from the events.
The big difference between Arc Rated clothing and Flame Resistant clothing is that all Arc Rated clothing is Flame Resistant, but not all FR clothing is Arc Rated.
Clothing with an Arc Rating has been tested to determine the level of protection offered. Testing has been undertaken to see whether the fabric can resist ignition and extinguish on its own once the ignition source is removed.
The testing carried out on the clothing will clarify whether the material resists ignition and whether it will self-extinguish once the source of the ignition is removed. The testing will show how much energy is blocked by the clothing before second-degree burns are experienced.
Essentially, an Arc Rating gives employers and consumers peace of mind in the knowledge that the FR clothing they have purchased offers sufficient protection for the job.
Where is AR Clothing Appropriate?
AR clothing is appropriate in any situation where workers might be exposed to flames or heat. Industries where AR clothing is appropriate to include:
- Data Centres
- High-Volume Manufacturing Industries
Ultimately, it is crucial that organisations check the labels on all of their protective clothing to ensure that their FR clothing has an Arc Rating. This will allow them to ensure that workers are adequately protected from hazards. Arc Flash clothing provides added peace of mind as it is not only flame-resistant but has also been rigorously tested to IEC 61482-2-2009 to clarify the level of protection provided against Arc Flash hazards.