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 Post subject: Required Level of PPE?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 11:34 pm 
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According to the NFPA 70E-2013 Article 130.5 (C)(1)c [under the title "At least on of the following"] the "Required Level of PPE" is one of 4 possible pieces of information you can include in the arc flash label.

The other 3 are well known and there is no confusion regarding what they mean.

NFPA 70E does not define what "Required Level of PPE" really means.

Is it a detailed list of PPE like in table H.3(b)?

Is it a custom "Level" defined by the user which represents a specific list of PPE?

What it can't be is clear. The HRC. This is another option of the four possible options.

So, if anybody that was part of the committee that suggested this term is reading this entry, can you please define and explain with an example, what exactly this term means?

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2013 4:33 am 
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The wording is being tweaked in the 2015 version. It means a user defined version. For example one of the annexes shows a 2 level system.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:40 am 
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Paul. Can you provide me exactly where this example of a level 2 is in the NFPA 70E 2012?

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:12 am 
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Annex H, specifically table H.2.

Note that in prior editions of 70E, the face shield and balaclava were not required for H/RC 2 activities. So the table essentially suggested wearing H/RC 2 clothing as "standard workwear", and using H/RC 4 clothing (40 cal/cm^2 equipment) for everything else. Since merging "2*" and "2", at this point the table should be changed to simply read H/RC 1 and H/RC 4 to maintain the true concept of a "2 level" system.

This exact system is very common in utilities, iron & steel industries, ship yards, welding shops, glass plants, refineries, and some coal mines. The standard work wear is flame retardant clothing so electricians can naturally be outfitted with an "everyday work wear" rated for 4 cal/cm^2 by simply switching to fire retardant clothing with an ATPV rating. Nearly all fire retardant clothing on the market is rated for 8 cal/cm^2 or greater, so the choice merely becomes whether to add the optional face shield and balaclava where necessary as a 3 level system, or stick with a very simple 2 level (H/RC 1 and 4) system.

A sister plant in Lima, Ohio is currently converting over to something very similar. They have the fire retardant clothing as a minimum PPE. They are labelling their equipment as PPE Level A, B, C, and D. A means standard workwear (4 cal/cm^2). B means with face shield and balaclava (8 cal/cm^2). C means "40 cal suit". D means "contact an engineer" (>40 cal/cm^2). Rather than using numbers they went to a letter system to avoid confusion with previous systems and labels.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:08 pm 
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Paul, I really like this approach of a 4 letter system- A,B,C,D. Much easier for the electrical worker to understand. With the example above, I anticipate that the workers are outfitted with a 4 cal/cm2 dailywear as work clothing. In the event that a faceshield and balaclava are required, does the worker now layer with additional clothing to bring themselves up to a minimum of 8 cal/cm2 for body protection? A 2 level system can work well. The issue is an HRC 2 (minimum 8 cal/cm2) dailywear can be a tough sell as pending on the garment manufacturer workers claim they find it uncomfortable to wear particularly in warm conditions

Thank you
Len Cicero


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:04 pm 
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Layering actually gives significantly more protection than additive, but at this point even additive ratings are no longer accepted. You must test. Second it is actually hard to find anything under 8 cals. Standard industrial cotton work uniforms with 12oz. cotton become 8-11 cal/cm2 when treated with the ammonia process (Westex Indura Ultrasoft). It does tend to be SLIGHTLY less breathable but sister plants in Geismar, LA, and Trinidad have not had serious issues. Neither did I when I wrote the rules and enforced them on myself when I worked in a cast iron foundry where FR clothing was already required in melt and casting shops. To say nothing of Texas oil refineries or gulf oil platforms where it is also mandatory. The situation was far worse years ago with Nomex which is heavy, does not breathe, and is sticky to the touch.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:09 pm 
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So...starting with 8 cal uniforms is just because practically it is hard to get 4 cal ones. I know because I tried to do it before. The 4 cal stuff on the market is very limited. I suggest that if you can control timing on implementation, do it in winter. That way everyone will naturally acclimate to the fr stuff and not notice that a long sleeve shirt that is nkt fr in summer is slightly more comfortable, and I do mean slightly.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:38 pm 
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OK Paul thank you very much for passing this along

Best regards


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:13 pm 
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Really not hard to get HRC 1, 4 cal systems. Any Nomex shirt and pant meets that. Many other lightweight options too than meet HRC 1. Most of the kit companies don't sell HRC 1 but most lives would be saved with HRC 1. HRC 2 was originally 2 layers rather than just 8 cal. In real life you will never tell the difference in HRC 1 and HRC 2 but the standard is what it is. Just forces heavier weight uniforms for little or no additional protection or lives saved. Prevent ignition then focus on preventing the deeper burns and better quality of life by moving to HRC 4.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:11 am 
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Our craftsmen (building maintenance) are wearing fire retardant shirts and slacks which protect to a Category 2 for their standard uniforms. They don't like it, say it's too hot, and our crews in St. George, Utah, which work on roofs in the summer, say that they get dizzy and light headed in that intense heat with this clothing. I am researching a cooler, lighter weight alternative that will still protect. Is anyone aware of any currently on the market that I could look into? Thank you so much.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:22 am 
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Generally speaking you are going to find that the most comfortable PPE is going to be around 8-12 oz. cotton with an ammonia treatment for fire retardancy. The treatment process does reduce the "breathability" of the material but is nowhere near as bad as older Nomex stuff.

However there is a much simpler approach: reduce exposures to the point where fire retardant PPE is not needed as standard uniforms. If you are working in an environment where fire is an ever present hazard (iron & steel, petroleum refineries, etc.) then there's probably not much that can be done about it. However for general building maintenance or similar activities generally this is overkill. Look for a concept known as "hierarchy of hazard controls". This is in the 2015 draft 70E. The idea behind the hierarchy of hazard controls is that when there is a hazard present, you should address it using the highest available means of eliminating the hazard first, then use the next lower means in the hierarchy only if you can't use the higher level ones. The hierarchy is as follows:
1. Eliminate the hazard (de-energize).
2. Substitute (arc resistant gear, better breakers/fuses to reduce hazard, arc flash sensors, arc "termination" devices, "touch safe" design).
3. Engineering controls (hot sticks, remote racking mechanisms, deeper power system analysis, arc resistant gear, etc.) to move worker out of harm's way or reduce hazard.
4. Administrative controls (EEWP's, looking for more opportunities to de-energize/change the work methodologies, using line hose, shock protection blankets, etc.)
5. PPE.

PPE should be the LAST choice and not the FIRST choice for protection. It is certainly the simplest and most direct approach to dealing with the hazard by simply reducing the damage that the hazard could cause rather than eliminating or reducing the hazard more directly.

If you take this approach then you only "suit up" as needed. At the site I work at now the electrician "standard uniform" is non-meltable clothing (usually cotton). They pull out the FR stuff only as needed on the job. Usually this is less than 5 minutes for each task, such as de-energizing and testing for absence of voltage as part of a troubleshooting/repair exercise. The location is in coastal North Carolina. Even if you buy the battery powered coolers for the arc flash hoods, this adds several pounds to the weight and you don't want to be wearing it for any longer than absolutely necessary when both the temperatures and humidity are exceeding 90 degrees. So the practice here is to wear the stuff as needed, not all day long. Usually this means it gets worn for minutes at most.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:48 am 
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phanderson wrote:
Our craftsmen (building maintenance) are wearing fire retardant shirts and slacks which protect to a Category 2 for their standard uniforms. They don't like it, say it's too hot, and our crews in St. George, Utah, which work on roofs in the summer, say that they get dizzy and light headed in that intense heat with this clothing. I am researching a cooler, lighter weight alternative that will still protect. Is anyone aware of any currently on the market that I could look into? Thank you so much.


Have you done a study to determine the actual PPE needed? Typically I have found that on the disconnect switches on roof top air handling units the incident energy is <2 cal/cm^2, usually much less. Or are you going by the Tables? What was the basis on the decision to have everyone in HRC 2 PPE? Was it Tables or study?

I ask because many times with a study that encompasses a coordination study, ways can be found to reduce the arc flash hazard by adjusting breakers or changing fuse types while still maintaining acceptable coordination and selectivity.

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Barry Donovan, P.E.
www.workplacesafetysolutions.com


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:20 am 
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It seems that some uniform choices are made because of supposed convenience and not common sense. For example; it is assumed, if a worker is dressed in 8 cal/cm┬▓ daily dress then they are immediately ready to take on any task that might occur without having to 'go back to the shop' to change. However for this premise to be valid, the worker would also need to carry face and head protection with them at all times.


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