Electricity is an indispensable part of today’s modern world, but working with it comes with a number of risks and dangers. Anyone working with electricity or electrical equipment needs to take precautions to avoid serious injury or even death.
Arc flash suits can protect workers from electricity-related injuries, specifically burns due to arc flashes. In this post, we discuss some tips for using arc flash suits to ensure you are fully protected.
If you are considering the purchase of an arc flash suit check out our useful Arc Flash Suit Buying Guide.
Putting On An Arc Flash Suit
Putting on an arc flash suit is easy if you are familiar with safety suits in general. Here are the steps:
- Open the arc suit storage bag and remove the suit.
- Examine the arc flash suit for any cuts or tears.
- Pull the arc flash bib over your arc clothing and boots
- Pullover the shoulder straps and adjust them to fit, avoiding slack.
- Adjust the waist velcro straps to fit your size.
- Inspect the arc flash coat for any seam or fabric tears.
- Put on the arc flash coat over the bib overalls, zipping and fastening it all the way to the neck.
- Put on the sock hood (balaclava) over your head and the top of the coat.
- Put on the safety glasses or goggles and earplugs.
- Put on the helmet and hood after adjusting the hard cap on the inside.
- Check for adequate breathing capacity while wearing the hood.
- Attach the hood ventilation system to the back of the hood if it is included with the suit.
- Make sure the hood covers the shoulders, neck, and chest.
- Fog on the face shield will activate the anti-fog properties and it will disappear.
- Put on rubber voltage gloves and leather outer gloves after inspecting them. Rubber gloves go over the outer jacket and leather gloves go over the rubber gloves.
Using a Hood Ventilation System
Wearing an arc suit for a lengthy period of time will likely cause sweating and moisture build-up in the suit. A hood ventilation system will allow the wearer to breathe and stay cool while working.
How to Attach the Ventilation System
Attaching the ventilation system is fairly quick and easy and requires no extra tools. To do so, follow these steps:
- Place the ventilation hose into the hole at the back of the hood under the flap.
- Pull it through from the inside.
- Secure the zipper that zips the hood ventilation system into place on the inside.
- Install the hard hat after the ventilation system is set in place.
- Loosen the helmet main strap so it is easy to fit over the head.
- Secure the battery-operated system to the back of the hood.
The ventilation system hose connects to a small plastic battery-operated unit that attaches by a strap or sits in a pocket on the back of the hood. To turn on the system, just press the switch to “on.” The unit will likely require 4 AA batteries you can purchase at any hardware store or supermarket.
Make Sure The Hood Is Properly Prepared
Make sure that the hood preparation is as perfect as you can make it. The hood should be visually inspected for any signs of damage, including cuts or tears. Some hoods come with battery operated ventilation systems. Be sure to check the battery level and turn the fan to on mode before placing the hood over your head.
Using Disinfectant Spray On An Arc Suit
The arc suit storage bag may include special disinfectant spray you can use on a new or used arc suit. Spray the disinfectant as per the guidelines to ensure that it is fully disinfected. Do not overspray or spray inside the hood because it could lead to the hood becoming a flammable object that could burn and suffocate the user.
How To Use The Bib-Overalls
The bib overalls form an important part of your arc flash suit. Always visually inspect it before wearing it. The bib buckle suspenders could be open from prior use, so always ensure that they are closed. When wearing the bib-overalls, ensure that the toes are pointing to the floor. This will ensure that your work boots will easily slide into the overalls.
Correctly Using The Coat
The coat is one of the most important parts of the entire arc flash suit so it must be used properly. It should be visually inspected after removing it from the storage bag before use. The coat is to be worn atop the bib-overalls and is your first line of protection during an arc flash. Ensure that the coat is properly zipped making use of the loop and hook placard. The strap at the neck should be fastened thoroughly. This will ensure that all the open spaces and areas are fully sealed.
Using The Gloves Properly
The gloves play an important role in fully securing the entire body from flashes and fires. Place one hand in at a time and make sure that the gloves go deep inside the overall. Ensure that the gloves you wear are made from the best of rubber insulating materials and also come with the right voltage rating. Be sure to store the gloves properly and are kept in a flat and natural position. Also, arc suit gloves should never be bunched or rolled up.
What Should Your Arc Flash Suit NOT Touch?
Avoid contacting your arc flash suit with the following elements while wearing it:
- Sharp objects including metals or plastics
- Electrically conductive fluids or chemicals
- Chemicals that can burn through fabrics or surfaces
- Extremely hot surfaces, fire, or molten liquids
- Nuclear Fallout or Radiation
If your arc flash suit gets water or any other electrically conducting fluid on its surface, stop work immediately and make sure it is clean and dry. This can prevent electrical conduction from occurring that could lead to an arc flash.
Fire-resistant arc suits are designed to handle heat and flames to a certain level but are still susceptible to damage from extreme heat or molten particles. So, avoid being in short distance to building fires or foundry operations.
These are just a few of the important points that you should follow when you use the arc flash unit. Always be sure to read the manufacturer, employer, and electrical equipment guidelines before proceeding to use an arc suit. Wearing an arc suit properly is the only way to keep you protected from the damage an arc flash can cause.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.