How we test new Arc Flash products

How we test new Arc Flash products

When your life could depend on the performance of what you’re wearing it’s no surprise that any ProGARM Arc Flash garment is extensively tested. But what exactly do we test for? And how are those tests carried out?

Testing Arc Flash garments

There are several types of tests that new products go through before we’ll list them in our catalogue.

Production testing happens before the product is fully developed and it tests how the component parts – mainly the fabric and fastenings – perform during manufacturing. We’ll look at how colour-fast the fabric is – because no one wants their new workwear to look shabby after just a few weeks – as well as whether the fabric shrinks or warps.

Wearer testing is done after sample products are produced. We wear the products at ProGARM HQ, but also have selected clients who volunteer to test new products and give their feedback. They comment on everything from the comfort of the fabric to the cut of the garment, and we use that information to make adjustments if they are needed.

Of course, Arc Flash PPE garments are not just standard workwear, so there is a whole range of more technical tests which also need to take place.

The specialist Arc Flash tests

All of our Arc Flash garments are tested to ensure they meet the required standards. We use laboratories with international reputations for being the best at what they do, using specialist equipment to get the data we need. Depending on the intended use for the garment that can include Anti-Static, Arc Flash, chemical splash, high visibility, and flammability.

The tests that are carried out include:

PH and azo dye

Tests to make sure that the chemical compounds used in fabric dyes won’t break down to become harmful or irritate the skin.

Limited flame test

This tests whether or not the fabric will catch fire and for how long it will continue to burn. Most tests are carried out on the flat face of the fabric, but we do also sometimes require testing for what happens when the flame is held to the edge of the fabric. Test results are measured based on how long it would take before the wearer would receive a second-degree burn.

Regardless of which industry will be wearing them, we require our garments to extinguish a flame and not burn – as you can see in this video of a test comparing three different types of flame resistant protection.

Heat resistance

Much like putting something in the oven to see whether it melts, this test looks at whether or not the fabric and component parts melt, drip or ignite when exposed to extreme heat. It’s important because if a wearer is caught in an Arc Flash incident they will be exposed to temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun, and in order to receive the best medical care it might be necessary to remove what they are wearing. For this reason our zips and fastenings need to resist extreme temperatures and still function.

Arc flash testing

We’ve written more about the new methods of Arc Flash testing in this blog, but we ensure that all of our garments meet the standards during the relevant type of testing – box or open arc. These are the tests which are used to determine the rating of a garment and align to your Arc Flash study. The rating is the equivalent of how long it would protect the wearer from second degree burns.

Anti-static testing

Using specialist equipment and laboratories, our garments are tested for charge decay and earthing properties to ensure that they meet the anti-static standard.

UV testing

A simple test to determine the level of sun protection provided by the fabric or garment.

You can see that there are many tests a ProGARM garment needs to go through before it makes it into our catalogue. If you need advice about Arc Flash PPE testing or any other element of your protective workwear, give one of our friendly sector experts a call on +44 (0) 1482 679600.

Make sure that you’re specifying the right PPE for your team.

Read our free guide on the top considerations when choosing Arc Flash clothing & PPE below and make the best choice for you and your team via the link below ⬇.

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