Arc Flash Clothing: Banish “one size fits all” PPE mentality
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a last line of defence for workers across many industries. This includes industrial electrical, utilities, power generation and the petrochemical sectors. PPE is literally a life-saver and so companies have a duty to supply it to their operatives. So far, so good.
However, what some companies don’t yet understand is that there is no quick fix to PPE. You can’t employ a simple framework and expect it to protect everyone in your team – every situation is different and must be treated that way.
Sizing up the risk
Risk assessments are a crucial aspect of all sectors in the 21st century. These can include specifics such as Arc Flash risk assessments, which determine the risk of an Arc Flash hazard in a working environment.
Whether Arc Flash hazards are present in your sector or not, you will be familiar with various risk assessments that ascertain the safety of your operatives and, crucially, what you need to do to protect them. This often includes supplying them with PPE, which can be anything from anti-static shirts through to Arc Flash resistant hi-vis coveralls. The right PPE saves lives, but the right PPE in the right size saves more.
The danger of “one size fits all”
Think about a softshell jacket designed to protect an operative from Arc Flash hazards. When it’s the right size, the arm length is ideal and the jacket doesn’t ride up when a worker is reaching down. The garment is flexible enough to move with the operative, whilst still maintaining adequate Arc Flash protection around vulnerable areas such as the chest and arms.
On the other hand, what if this softshell jacket was too big? The sleeves may be too long and the temptation to roll them up too great. That leads to operatives putting their safety at risk by rolling up their sleeves in a bid to work effectively. Long sleeves and loose material can easily catch on hazards. And if the jacket was too small? Wrists and arms are exposed, not to mention any problems with securely fastening the garment. If an Arc Flash hazard has been identified and PPE supplied, it needs to be the correct size.
Fits like a glove
It's understandable why some companies opt to order a quantity of PPE in a particular size – for instance, in XL. It can seem logical, especially if many of their employees would fit into the XL bracket. However, employees come in various shapes and sizes, and their PPE must be suitable for the individual and not the operative who came before.
The “one size fits all” approach to PPE can be dangerous, both for your employees and your company’s reputation in your sector. Instead of taking risks with safety, ensure that any PPE is suited for the task at hand and tailored to the operative wearing it.