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 Post subject: Resistance to Using Arc Flash Clothing
PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 4:51 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2008 7:57 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Kentucky
Changing a safety culture takes time. I have been in the field coming up on 22 years. I have been an entry level industrial electrician, electronics technician, Journeyman, Electrical Contractor, and an Electrical Controls Engineer for the past 10 years. Four Years ago I began to change my own curlture regarding Electrical Safety. I am now an Electrical Safety Manager and own an electrical safety business. I have a list of reasons for resistance to using Electrical Safe Work Practices, and in my last thread, "Electrical Safe Work Practices" we agreed there is little compliance. Obviously I am a big believer and a Preacher of Electrical Safe Work Practices LLC my business.

My next question is why electricians don’t want to use Arc Flash Clothing. I have a list. And grant it some do want to use the equipment. What do you think?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 6:58 am 
Plasma Level

Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 1103
Location: Charlotte, NC
Changing a safety culture takes time. I have been in the field coming up on 22 years. I have been an entry level industrial electrician, electronics technician, Journeyman, Electrical Contractor, and an Electrical Controls Engineer for the past 10 years. Four Years ago I began to change my own curlture regarding Electrical Safety. I am now an Electrical Safety Manager and own an electrical safety business. I have a list of reasons for resistance to using Electrical Safe Work Practices, and in my last thread, "Electrical Safe Work Practices" we agreed there is little compliance. Obviously I am a big believer and a Preacher of Electrical Safe Work Practices LLC my business.

My next question is why electricians don’t want to use Arc Flash Clothing. I have a list. And grant it some do want to use the equipment. What do you think?


"Been doing this work for _____ years, never had to waer anything before"

Dont understand the hazards

PPE is to hot an uncomfortable

Too lazy to go get the PPE and put it on

Thinks coworkers will give him a hard time about wearing it

The PPE looks "wimpy"

These are all common reasons you probally have on your list, you get the idea. The key is for the company to not only have Safe Work Practices but to have a displinary program that is actually enforced. My last company I used this policy for our field guys.

1st violation - Written worning, pulled off job and sent home for day to write a 15 minute safety training program to be presented at our next weekly safety meeting based around the violation. (Forced them to do a little research on the subject and plenty of time to think)

2nd Violation (Had to do this only once) - Brought them on a tour of a burn center at a local hospital, met some patients, scared the pants off them.

3rd violation - Termination

I will be presenting a 4 hour seminar on this topic at the NETA conference in San Antonio in March.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 6:18 pm 
Arc Level

Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:49 pm
Posts: 498
Location: New England
You make excellent points but I think there are other reasons, some more valid than others:

1) I am a trained, and experienced electrician. Its not that I disagree with Arc Flash, its that I think its implementation is flawed. Do I really need it to change a 120V ballast in a troffer - how bad would I get hurt if I even grabbed that 14awg hot lead and purposefully shorted it. What I don't worry about at 120V is not to say I feel the same at 480V

2) I'm installing a snap in QO 1P20 and terminating 12AWG wire. There are 500 US homeowners who do this everyday without injury and they near zero knowledge compared to my E1. How am I supposed to wire it with these 1000KV gloves on?

3) There are different degrees of risk, and I am more apt to prepare for the greater risk than I am the minor one. I was the one guy who actually paid attention during those 900 hours of instruction.

4) It's summer and its 100F in that MCC room. My task will take hours and I am not working on live components. I only have the door open and will exposed, my training tells me to touch the live parts, and since I am 6" away I'd have to be a complete idiot to touch them. I am actually feeling faint, as if I am overheating, plus I am sweating like crazy and actually more worried about my sweat being conductive.

There is no excuse for not obeying the rules. Except for the legitimate excuses. What NFPA has done is to acknowledge that they believe that all electricians are incapable of working safe on or near live components. Imagine if this same philosophy was applied to the bomb demolition squard ... "Sergeant, you can only disfuse that warhead after we can verify that its inert". NFPA by forcing the issue on relatively simple tasks that could not cause serious injury - has diminished the effect on truely dangerous acts. Art 130 was not written by licensed electricians or maintenance supervisors - it was written by committee, some with motives other than personal safety. If it had a more common sense approach and differentiated between truely hazardous and non hazardous tasks, it would get more respect.

I very much believe and advocate Arc Flash. I just wish it could be implemented with more of a common sense approach and with a greater appreciation of real world practices.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 10:54 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2008 7:57 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Kentucky
haze10 that was nice. Spoken like a professional electrician. Zog also nice, spoken like a true EHS manager or Engineer who does his job well.

I think the problem with the implementation is the understanding it takes to make it practical. Training, training, training. Its the money it cost to do an arc flash analysis. The PPE is not easy to work in. Besides, we've been doing this for years without it. Guess what, many people are dying and becoming disabled every year.

You can not just jump into compliance, yet not complying is unacceptable. Cultures have to change, money has to be spent, hazards have to be quantified and understood.

Sometimes you'll work on equipment that looks like the equipment you've seen labeled as level 0 100's of places or not labeled at all, and a level 3 hazard exist. The arc flash analysis is critical to make a program practical and sense full, if that's a word.

You have to identify the level of hazard. You have to have a short circuit and coordination study done. Your single lines must be up to date. You must do an arc flash analysis. Your equipment must be tested and maintained, otherwise your rolling the dice, or wearing too much ppe most of the time. Sometimes you're not wearing enough. The fact is, without an analysis, you don't know.

I want to wear the level of PPE I need. I do not want to put on a level 2 or wear a level 2 uniform in August because 90% of what I do every day requires a level 2 according to a table, Voltage testing. But in reality, after I get an arc flash analysis done I only need gloves for shock protection and a level two once every two weeks because 90% of my equipment is level 0. Most Plants won't spend 50K for the analysis, just wear level 2 or get fired. That's why there is resistance.

What's the answer? Money, Time, Effort. New plants do it right to begin with. Get the engineering work done upfront. Maintain your records and equipment. Train your people, label your equipment, use the PPE you need.

Old plants, make a budget, get it done over time. Electricians wear the ppe you need and put emphasis on getting the equipment you know has a high level energy identified, and a low level of energy identified. Then get the rest done as you can. Use the tables in NFPA 70E, they can save your life even if it is a pain in the butt.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:12 am 

Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:07 am
Posts: 8
We had the same problem initially i dont think there is one approach that will work for every company. However there a couple key things we did that worked for us anyway;

1. Get committment/buy in from your management. They need to establish the expectation upfront that PPE will be worn when its needed. It must be in your policy, etc.
2. Make the PPE available, we purchased several pairs of FR clothing for them, take care of the laundering, etc. We also got a group of employees together to help select the regular daily clothing that seemed to help.
3. Like someone said earlier you have to have consistent, fair consequences if someone chooses not to follow the rules. Be clear up front with the expectations and what will happen if they dont follow. Its not a pleasant thing to discipline someone but once you do that the message is sent.

Hope this helps


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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 2:30 pm 
Sparks Level

Joined: Fri May 01, 2009 9:10 am
Posts: 73
Gloves

At what point do you believe voltage rated insulating gloves are necessary? Using a DMM to test voltage on a 120V circuit?


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