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Best Practices for Arc Flash PPE During COVID-19

Last year had most organizations reassessing and restructuring many of our daily practices. Many things we never thought twice about were suddenly making us contemplate whether or not they could put us at risk. The idea of sharing personal protection equipment (PPE) has been a common practice especially when it comes to more costly items, like arc flash kits for electrical maintenance clothing. As COVID-19 has made us fully aware of the importance of sanitization its imperative that we do so daily. The CDC and arc flash industry expert, Hugh Hoagland, provides great guidance.

According to CDC's recommendations:

  • Thoroughly washing with soap and warm water (simple and effective)
  • For disinfecting clothing and other surfaces, the CDC recommends following the manufacturer's laundering instructions on the label as well as a wash with soap and warm water (as stated above). This applies to PPE and other safety clothing: product care information for all National Safety Apparel products can be found on the information labels sewn into your garment. 
  • DO NOT use disinfecting sprays or wipes to clean your arc flash PPE. Many disinfecting products are intended for hard surfaces and require a certain level of saturation and wait time that cannot be achieved with porous surfaces like fabrics. Additionally, many of the chemicals in these products are flammable and any residue left could negatively impact the garment's ability to protect the wearer.

With washing being the only viable sanitization option, it is important now more than ever to stop the sharing of PPE in order to keep workers safe and healthy. Industry expert, Hugh Hoagland, stated in his recent blog "Although many companies have implemented shared electrical PPE programs over the years, especially for operators of electrical switch gear, the COVID-19 crisis is putting a spotlight on why this is a bad practice that needs to change - forever!"

Why is sharing PPE such a commonly held practice?

Sharing equipment is often used to mitigate the cost and Arc Flash Kits are no exception. Arc Flash kits are commonly shared garments due to their limited use on limited tasks that require that level of protection. Due to the lower use and sharing ability of Arc Flash kits, it makes the upfront cost of the gear a long-term investment as the kit can be utilized for several years. 

It is also important to weigh the cost of not protecting workers with the appropriate PPE. Surveys have shown that workers are more likely to wear their PPE when they are provided garments that they feel comfortable in. A communal suit presents the wearer with what may seem like justification for not wearing the PPE they need and they may not feel comfortable wearing a shared garment. The cost of not wearing PPE especially in an arc flash situation can be dire so it is incredibly important for an organization to consider how their employees feel about PPE and how they encourage the use of everything that is necessary. Giving each worker their own arc flash suit or aluminized jacket eliminates the excuse of not wearing PPE and gives them ownership over their own protection.

Hugh Hoagland said it best, “In summary, personal protective equipment is personal for a reason. One of the many recommendations to prevent the spread of potential infections, including COVID-19, is to “keep personal items personal”. Read his full blog Is it OK to Share Arc Flash and Electrical PPE for more info!

This article was modified with permission from an originally published article by National Safety Apparel on Mar. 31, 2020.

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Ritz Safety, a family-owned business since 1983, is here to serve you. Our 13 sales and distribution centers across the United States provide a wide array of PPE and safety solutions, promoting all workers' health, well-being, and protection. Contact us at sales@ritzsafety.com or 800-451-3077 for convenient, cost-effective, and customized warehouse industry PPE solutions.

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