The Guide to Arc Flash Clothing

Photo credit: Shermco Industries, Inc.

A new method to choosing personal protective equipment

BY JIM WHITE, Shermco Industries, Inc.

Table 130.7(C)(15)(a) in the 2012 edition of NFPA 70E: “Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace”, published by the National Fire Protection Association, has always been difficult for technicians and safety professionals to use in the field. Even though it has an outstanding record since being introduced in the 2000 edition of NFPA 70E, some members of the technical committee have been solidly against it.

One of those committee members stated that if the tables were eliminated, everyone would be forced to have an incident energy analysis performed on their facility. Others on the committee, such as myself, have defended its use because without the tables, there is no method to choose arc-rated clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) without performing an incident energy analysis, which is beyond the means of many commercial building owners or operators. To believe everyone is going to run out and perform an incident energy analysis is wishful thinking.

Since its introduction, Table 130.7(C)(15)(a) has remained basically unchanged. It provides limits on its use by specifying the maximum available short-circuit current and operating time of the overcurrent protective device, and in the 2012 edition of NFPA 70E, it also gives the potential arc flash boundary at those limits. If either limit is exceeded, the tables cannot be used and an incident energy analysis must be performed.

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