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 Post subject: PPE Contributing To Arc Flash Risk
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:23 am 
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Are there any statistics on Arc Flash incidents where reduced vision, restricted motion or clumsiness due to wearing the appropriate PPE contributed to the incident? Since the PPE would generally protect the wearer from serious injury, would these incidents even be recorded/reported? Would it be more effective to retrofit equipment with Arc Flash detection and prevention wherever possible, particularly on MCC's, panels, etc. that are operated frequently to minimize the zones where Arc Flash protection above Cat 0 or Cat 1 is required?


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:11 am 
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David Chief wrote:
Are there any statistics on Arc Flash incidents where reduced vision, restricted motion or clumsiness due to wearing the appropriate PPE contributed to the incident? Since the PPE would generally protect the wearer from serious injury, would these incidents even be recorded/reported?

Hard to really determine that was cause and as you mentioned it would likey not be reported if it happened, but if you ever spend any time in a 40cal suit you can sure believe it is a factor. Perhaps someone else here has a documented case.

David Chief wrote:
Would it be more effective to retrofit equipment with Arc Flash detection and prevention wherever possible, particularly on MCC's, panels, etc. that are operated frequently to minimize the zones where Arc Flash protection above Cat 0 or Cat 1 is required?
Sure it is, better to remove the hazard than protect a person from it. That is why remote switching is so popular, just attached device to door with magnets, walk away, push botton on remote control. Easy.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:39 am 
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The most convincing statistic I have seen is that since we started using arc flash PPE the fatalities have dropped over 60%. I don't sell PPE but do most of the testing. I'm a huge fan of remote racking and other engineering fixes but these obviously won't help with voltage testing and grounding etc.

The PPE impoves quite quickly. Some hoods have faceshields have better color recognition (the newer the designs are usually better) and some brands have better field of vision. Good hazard assessment can keep you out of the most cumbersome gear. Many companies default to use the tables which will almost always put you in more PPE. Doing an arc flash study in some cases reduces hazard levels by 75%.

Usually people asking this question are trying to get out of the hard work (not implying that is the case with you).

Lives are being saved. We've cut 400 deaths per year AND if the statistics hold we have likely cut permanent disabilities by 4000 per year. Rubber gloves and arc rated clothing are here to stay for most electrical work. You've found a good forum to assist. There are others which focus on PPE too. Let us know if we can assist.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:25 am 
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Those are some incredible statistics, do you have some sources where I could find more about that?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:19 am 
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It is BLS statistics from Bureau of Labor Statistics. I threw out the lightning strike fatalities and less than 50V fatalities since they could have nothing to do with OSHA, NFPA 70E or arc flash clothing.

http://www.arcwear.com/stats.mht

It is a spreadsheet showing what I have done. It is in several articles in the last few and has been peer reviewed in an IEEE paper.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:05 pm 
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elihuiv wrote "Usually people asking this question are trying to get out of the hard work (not implying that is the case with you)."

DO you have any idea how that sounds?
I also seriously doubt that it is true "usually".

I think the OP raise a vaild concern.
I believe that most existing PPE does make an "event" of some sort more likely. It might not be an arc flash, "some thing"
It also makes the odds of surviving the event if it IS an arc flash significantly if not infinitely higher.

I don't think any one (except aperhaps a few older electricians) thinks that PPE is NOT here to stay.
I do think however PPE has a way to go still, in terms of usability.


It really doesn't matter how fast PPE is improving if a company bought their PPE two years ago. Or if they considered "one size fits all".


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:15 pm 
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Sorry if is "sounds" any differently than I meant it. I really meant what I said and nothing more.

I have heard it hundreds of times. If you don't know, I was doing arc flash testing before NFPA 70E mentioned it in 1995. I'm a geezer in the field. I've really heard a lot and the statement is from my experience. I really didn't mean to imply that was his motivation. I don't think rubber gloves make arc flashes more likely either though I have heard that many times.

The statistics speak for themselves. PPE is getting better. I've been working on an arc flash glove standard for about 10 years trying to get a test method so we can make that PPE better too. i just don't want people to use the excuse, "the PPE might make the chance higher, so I'm not using it." I've seen people who had that though badly burned. Looked them in the eye. This is not a theoretical forum for me. I'm not just a consultant. I have done arc flash testing and consulting for 18 years and talk to a burn victim about every year and am involved with more than 10 investigations for arc flash every year.

JKlessig wrote:
elihuiv wrote "Usually people asking this question are trying to get out of the hard work (not implying that is the case with you)."

DO you have any idea how that sounds?
I also seriously doubt that it is true "usually".

I think the OP raise a vaild concern.
I believe that most existing PPE does make an "event" of some sort more likely. It might not be an arc flash, "some thing"
It also makes the odds of surviving the event if it IS an arc flash significantly if not infinitely higher.

I don't think any one (except aperhaps a few older electricians) thinks that PPE is NOT here to stay.
I do think however PPE has a way to go still, in terms of usability.


It really doesn't matter how fast PPE is improving if a company bought their PPE two years ago. Or if they considered "one size fits all".


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:40 am 
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Quote:
The most convincing statistic I have seen is that since we started using arc flash PPE the fatalities have dropped over 60%.


I think the recent attention arc flash has received over the last decade has caused a renewed focus on electrical safety in general. I know I’ve seen a lot of major changes at my company other than just PPE for electrical work.

It used to be that electricians were considered qualified to do live work, although OSHA has always had strict rules about justification for live work and control of hazardous energy. We now employ much better labeling and circuit identification making de-energization faster and easier (and thus more likely). We’ve implemented EEWP and the amount of live work we do has been dramatically reduced; for example, we now de-energize an electrical bus to install a bus plug which used to be considered a crazy notion. We’ve also changed the way we design and build electrical control panels; we used to think the panel protects nonqualified workers from electric shock due to the fact energized components are enclosed to prevent access, but we never really thought about protecting the qualified electrical worker. We now use finger-safe components and do a much better job of segregating the high voltage components from low voltage controls. We have more stringent policies about the use of insulated tools and requirements for minimum CAT ratings on DMMs. We’ve also greatly narrowed our definition of a qualified electrical worker and require much more formal training and documentation. And these are just the changes I’ve seen where I work; I know there is also a lot of other technology available such as remote breaker racking, chicken switch, maintenance switch, arc vault, arc resistant switch gear and IR windows.

PPE is important; it’s the last line of defense. It’s great that it’s still being improved; the less time consuming and cumbersome it is the more likely people are to properly wear it. However, while rubber insulating gloves and arc-rated clothing help prevent electrical injuries, I think changes in the way we now do work has also helped prevent many accidents from occurring in the first place.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:26 am 
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I totally agree. The full system requires more than PPE. I don't really consider AF clothing and rubber insulating gloves as PPE as much as tools of trade (especially rubber gloves). "Trying not to touch it/avoiding contact" isn't nearly as good as a tool (such as rubber gloves) which allow you to avoid without incident. I'm sure you agree. I'm a "all of the above" guy but the question posed here was specifically about PPE and it possibly "causing" an incident.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:10 pm 
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Thank you all for some excellent discussion. I certainly don't take offense at the suggestion that I am trying to get out of doing hard work because that is EXACTLY what I desire. I can't imagine anything harder than informing the widow of a worker killed in the line of duty because of a failure that could have be prevented! Nor do I like cleaning up and dealing with the aftermath of a fatal incident! In my experience, PPE is the very last resort, but is invariably a necessary line of defense against injury. It's also one of the more likely safety ingredients to fail over time when it is awkward, uncomfortable and frustrating to use. Sadly, even safety conscious workers with 30 plus years of experience sometimes screw up. I am always looking for justifications to redesign and retrofit our older systems to be less hazardous. Sometimes it is just too easy to put in place a policy of mandating overwhelming levels of PPE and procedures so that a severe hazard is left unchanged and unchallenged.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:25 pm 
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Now that's a kind of "getting out of the hard work" that I want to see (what I usually see someone wanting to avoid PPE with a "I-think-PPE-increases-the-risk" argument so I'm not going to get PPE or I'm going to get cheap stuff and say "I'm covered".).

You will have hard work to sell your idea but it is THE best way to protect workers in the long run. Newer, properly designed equipment can reduce risk and lower incident energy.

I don't think an increased risk for arc flash exists from the use of proper PPE but a good study would be welcomed by the community. I think the best way to support what you want is to look at cost of the following and see if it helps in justification:

1. Cost of PPE provided and replaced.
2. Cost of donning PPE.
2. Cost of doffing PPE.
3. Cost of maintaining PPE.
4. Cost of incident if inadequate PPE is donned or not donned at all.

Risk of 4 happening is likely the best justification for new arc resistant or arc-proof designs.

This look at cost could help but it is unlikely to help on old equipment replacement (too much capital tied up to just rebuild). It will definitely help on new plant builds which I hope we see many more of.

Good luck, you are going the right direction. Thanks for not being offended. That really wasn't my intention. I have had this argument raised a lot in consulting and training classes. Usually by a PPE skeptic. The PPE works but avoidance of the hazard and reduction of the risk is really much better.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:24 am 
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David Chief wrote:
Are there any statistics on Arc Flash incidents where reduced vision, restricted motion or clumsiness due to wearing the appropriate PPE contributed to the incident? Since the PPE would generally protect the wearer from serious injury, would these incidents even be recorded/reported? Would it be more effective to retrofit equipment with Arc Flash detection and prevention wherever possible, particularly on MCC's, panels, etc. that are operated frequently to minimize the zones where Arc Flash protection above Cat 0 or Cat 1 is required?


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:30 am 
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elihuiv wrote:
Now that's a kind of "getting out of the hard work" that I want to see (what I usually see someone wanting to avoid PPE with a "I-think-PPE-increases-the-risk" argument so I'm not going to get PPE or I'm going to get cheap stuff and say "I'm covered".).

You will have hard work to sell your idea but it is THE best way to protect workers in the long run. Newer, properly designed equipment can reduce risk and lower incident energy.

I don't think an increased risk for arc flash exists from the use of proper PPE but a good study would be welcomed by the community. I think the best way to support what you want is to look at cost of the following and see if it helps in justification:

1. Cost of PPE provided and replaced.
2. Cost of donning PPE.
2. Cost of doffing PPE.
3. Cost of maintaining PPE.
4. Cost of incident if inadequate PPE is donned or not donned at all.

Risk of 4 happening is likely the best justification for new arc resistant or arc-proof designs.

This look at cost could help but it is unlikely to help on old equipment replacement (too much capital tied up to just rebuild). It will definitely help on new plant builds which I hope we see many more of.

Good luck, you are going the right direction. Thanks for not being offended. That really wasn't my intention. I have had this argument raised a lot in consulting and training classes. Usually by a PPE skeptic. The PPE works but avoidance of the hazard and reduction of the risk is really much better.

elihuiv wrote:
Now that's a kind of "getting out of the hard work" that I want to see (what I usually see someone wanting to avoid PPE with a "I-think-PPE-increases-the-risk" argument so I'm not going to get PPE or I'm going to get cheap stuff and say "I'm covered".).

You will have hard work to sell your idea but it is THE best way to protect workers in the long run. Newer, properly designed equipment can reduce risk and lower incident energy.

I don't think an increased risk for arc flash exists from the use of proper PPE but a good study would be welcomed by the community. I think the best way to support what you want is to look at cost of the following and see if it helps in justification:

1. Cost of PPE provided and replaced.
2. Cost of donning PPE.
2. Cost of doffing PPE.
3. Cost of maintaining PPE.
4. Cost of incident if inadequate PPE is donned or not donned at all.

Risk of 4 happening is likely the best justification for new arc resistant or arc-proof designs.

This look at cost could help but it is unlikely to help on old equipment replacement (too much capital tied up to just rebuild). It will definitely help on new plant builds which I hope we see many more of.

Good luck, you are going the right direction. Thanks for not being offended. That really wasn't my intention. I have had this argument raised a lot in consulting and training classes. Usually by a PPE skeptic. The PPE works but avoidance of the hazard and reduction of the risk is really much better.

PPE are very important and best way to protect workers long run,OSHA has concentrating on it so many times,but workers and people who are dealing in fire work or welding etc. are not using PPE regularly which causes accidents and injuries on workplace.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:59 pm 
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This is a good point. We should have a welding PPE standard. There are none I know of. Pretty sad but the end users have to start it. Pretty thankless work and second guessed all along the way but when you have a standard, things start changing.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:27 pm 
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Great discussion, I feel very relevant - I appreciate all the points brought out.

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