Arc flash personal protective equipment (PPE) plays an essential role in protecting electrical workers from dangerous accidental arc flash events. Individuals that work in environments with various electrical hazards must be adequately trained in the use and application of electrical PPE, such as hard hats, ear protectors, face shields, insulated rubber gloves, and more. All PPE worn in these environments must adhere to the standards set forth by NFPA 70E to ensure optimal protection from potential electrical arc flashes.
The type of PPE required depends on the incident energy level, or arc rating, within a work area. Generally, a higher rating means it requires higher levels of protection. Here, we will go over the four main categories of arc flash PPE to help you determine which is right for your needs.
PPE Category 1: Minimum Arc Rating 4 cal/cm2
PPE Category 1 is the lowest level that requires arc-rated PPE. This category only requires a single layer of PPE that typically includes the following:
- Arc-Rated (AR) long-sleeved shirt and pants or bodysuit with a 4 cal/cm2 minimum arc rating
- Arc flash suit hood or AR face shield with wraparound guarding
- AR jackets, rainwear, hard had liners, and parkas as needed
PPE Category 2: Minimum Arc Rating 8 cal/cm2
PPE Category 2 likely requires only a single layer of AR PPE. In many situations, companies that require Category 1 PPE opt for Category 2 PPE so that they meet both requirements. Since Category 2 PPE is comparable in comfort to Category 1, it makes more sense to choose Category 2 clothing.
Required Category 2 PPE includes:
- AR long-sleeved shirt and pants or coveralls with an 8 cal/cm2 minimum arc rating
- AR face shield or flash suit hood with a sock hood or balaclava
- AR jackets, parkas, rainwear, and hard had liners as needed
PPE Category 3: Minimum Arc Rating 25 cal/cm2
PPE Category 3 protection requires additional layers of protective clothing. Flash suit hoods are a standard requirement as well as AR heavy-duty insulated rubber gloves and leather protectors for the gloves
Required Category 3 PPE includes:
- AR flash suit jacket and pants or coveralls with a 25 cal/cm2 minimum arc rating
- AR flash suit hood
- AR rubber insulating gloves and leather protectors
- AR jackets, parkas, rainwear, and hard hat liners as needed
PPE Category 4: Minimum Arc Rating 40 cal/cm2
PPE Category 4 currently represents the highest level of compliance, with arc ratings going above 40 cal/cm2. This category requires additional layers of clothing and typically includes:
- AR flash suit jacket and pants or AR coveralls with a minimum arc rating of 40 cal/cm2
- AR flash suit hood
- Rubber insulating gloves, leather protectors, and AR gloves
- AR jackets, rainwear, parkas, and hard hat liners as needed
Discover the Best Safety Equipment from Paulson Manufacturing
The NFPA 70E exists so that you don’t have to make the wrong decisions when choosing arc flash and flame retardant PPE. An arc flash risk assessment should precede every decision, as it will help you learn which category of PPE you require for your work environment.
At Paulson Manufacturing, we provide electrical PPE and industrial protection gear that meets the highest safety standards. Contact us to learn more about our arc flash PPE and other products.