What Should Electrical Workers Wear? Investing in the Right Apparel for the Job

It’s a risk that electrical workers face every day on the job: Arc flashes occurring without warning and causing an injury that can be severe.

It’s a risk that electrical workers face every day on the job: Arc flashes occurring without warning and causing an injury that can be severe. The most serious of these burn injuries typically happen when clothing ignites and continues to burn, so it stands to reason that the right apparel – arc-rated (AR) and flame-resistant (FR) – can offer protection from these painful burns.

What Causes Arc Flashes?

  • Electrical worker error: Occasionally, workers fail to verify that there is no voltage. They might be using faulty voltage testers or forget about lockout/tag-out procedures. Overconfidence, complacency, and poor communication can all contribute to arc flashes.
  • Working on energized equipment: There are situations in which workers must work on hot equipment—hospitals are a perfect example. But there are times when workers believe they have the experience to work on energized equipment or they don’t de-energize because they are pressed for time.
  • Lack of equipment maintenance: When equipment is not regularly maintained, corrosion can build up and increase resistance and heat. Corrosion is one of the leading causes of equipment failure and arc flashes.

Electrical Workers Can Protect Themselves with Flame-Resistant Wear

Electrical workers are usually not burned severely by the arc flash itself. Instead, the significant injury occurs when non-FR clothing ignites and fuels the flame. The extent of the injury is increased with the worker experiencing severe and painful burns.

Flame-resistant apparel will self-extinguish, which lessens the burn injury since the source of ignition is removed. It also provides enough insulation to reduce the likelihood of second-degree burns significantly.

FR Daily-Wear is a Simple and Effective Solution

For the most common lower-energy work, wearing AR/FR daily-wear could be the solution. It takes away the guesswork of deciding whether a task requires arc-rated clothing, and it eliminates that extra step of getting into personal protective equipment (PPE) for a specific job. For high-energy tasks, however, the extra step of donning appropriate task-based PPE is recommended or required.

Match Your Clothing to the Hazard Levels

The National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) requires utilities to assess the hazards for employees working around energized equipment. If energy exceeds a certain level, workers must wear AR/FR clothing with an arc rating equal to or higher than the levels with which they work. 

Employers may be required to perform an arc-flash risk assessment to determine the potential energy level and the total area in which the hazard exists. Once the energy level and total area are determined, you can select the appropriate AR/FR clothing. Start by choosing a fabric that gives you the comfort and performance that meet the needs of your workplace and the tasks you’ll be performing.

Are You Looking to Advance Your Career as an Electrician? Contact Outsource!

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How to Address Employee PPE Complaints

Keeping your workers safe takes priority over everything else in the workplace. And while your workers agree in principle that safety is paramount,..

Keeping your workers safe takes priority over everything else in the workplace. And while your workers agree in principle that safety is paramount, they aren’t always receptive to the measures you must take to maintain a safe environment.

Your employees’ attitude plays an essential role in how well your safety culture develops. As in all matters, communication is the key to success. You can choose to close off any discussion when there are complaints from them (After all, it’s not their choice whether to be safe or not), or you can address their concerns and complaints, so they have a better understanding of why you require safety equipment and training.

You’ll improve their viewpoint on matters of safety if you choose the latter. Here are some suggestions on how to speak to some of the most common objections they may have concerning safety.

“PPE makes it harder to do my job.”

Your workers’ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protects them from hazards such as chemicals, electricity, heat, biohazards, and airborne particles. Hardhats are required whenever there is potential danger from falling objects. Gloves protect their hands, and safety goggles keep grit and other particles from their eyes. Safety harnesses protect them against falls.

These and other protective equipment are often cumbersome and lead to the most often-heard complaint: They make it harder to do the job.

In some instances, it can help to find out which part of the job is most affected by the PPE. Then, alternative safety products can be substituted satisfactorily. For example, gloves made of a different material could offer equal protection while affording more range of motion.

“Why do we have to sit through this boring training when we already know it?”

Even though it can feel tedious and repetitive at times, safety training is one of the most significant aspects of maintaining a safe workplace.  Many workers who have never seen or experienced a safety episode are even more reluctant to attend more training sessions. It’s critical that you stress the importance of keeping the knowledge fresh in their minds because you are committed to keeping all of your workers safe.

“It takes too long to follow all those safety procedures”

Workers often voice this complaint about following the safety requirements. And they have a point. It usually takes longer to complete a task when you’re doing it safely, so it’s essential to allow them enough time to do the job and follow the safety procedures. Instead of compromising the safety, have them look for ways to work more efficiently with all the safety procedures in place. And if they must work more slowly to follow the safety rules, make sure you don’t punish them because of it. 

Let Outsource help you find your next electrical or cabling worker!

If you would like assistance finding a safety-conscious electrical professional, contact the experts at Outsource. We are the largest staffing firm in the nation specializing in the placement of low voltage and electrical talent.

Discover The Power of Real Partnership

Let's talk about the world of possibilities and how we can partner to make them a reality.

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What's new in the world of work? Check out the latest highlights, including staffing trends, top insights and more.

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