How To Choose the Correct Arc Flash PPE

How To Choose the Correct Arc Flash PPE
  • Opening Intro -

    In recent years, there has been a major emphasis placed on arc flash recognition and safety.

    Depending on the maturity of your company's electrical safety program, your personal experience with arc flash recognition may differ from your peers.


Scenarios exist where standard PPE is used. Still, others undergo extensive testing to fine-tune their PPE for multiple applications.

Whatever your scenario, you are going to want to make sure that you are wearing the correct PPE for your application. But it’s difficult to know how to choose the correct arc flash PPE for your purposes.

Read on to learn more about choosing the correct arc flash PPE clothing.

Are All Arc Flash PPE Items Built the Same?

Simply, no. Every piece of equipment that has arc flash potential should have a sticker indicating the largest possible energy level in an arc flash event.

When looking at your PPE equipment, there should be a rating that appears in the same format (cal/cm2) called an Arc Thermal Protective Value (ATPV). The ATPV means that the PPE will protect from arc flash energies up to that value.

If the equipment you are operating can provide more energy than you are protected against, then you are not protected.

Ensure You Are Protected From Head To Toe

Making sure you are wearing the correct PPE equipment for an application is essential for protecting workers from arc flash. Let’s look from head to toe.

  • Head protection is required for all levels of arc flash incident energies. The hard hat should also be electrically rated and within the manufacturer’s life cycle for the helmet.
  • Your face will need to be protected from two dangers: extreme heat and tremendous amounts of light energy from infrared to ultraviolet. You will need to wear a face shield (with safety glasses on under the face shield) and an arc flash hood or balaclava to protect the skin.
  • Hearing Protection is required for all arc flash hazard levels. The sound from an arc blast can reach 140 dB, the equivalent of hearing a military jet taking off from 50 feet. The recommended practice is to use ear canal inserts.
  • Your arms, legs, and torso should be covered by some combination of long sleeve shirt, pants, and coveralls. All skin should be covered. All buttons buttoned, shirt tucked in, zippers up, and shirt sleeves rolled down. Not only should no skin be exposed, but there should be no exposed non-arc rated material.
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  • Hand protection should always be worn to the proper level of arc flash protection.
  • Footwear should be leather. Tests have shown that even with steel toe leather boots, the leather provides sufficient protection to avoid any temperature increase during an arc flash event. Keep in mind that shoes should be completely leather, and not leather and synthetic materials like much modern safety footwear.

Hopefully, this answered all your questions regarding how to choose the correct arc flash PPE. Remember to closely follow the safety rules at your job.

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