In April 2014, OSHA published a revision to the 1910.269 ruling. The revision applies to employers that work with electric power generation, transmission, or distribution lines or equipment.
Under the revised rule, OSHA now designates flame resistant and arc-rated clothing as PPE, as opposed to the former standard that merely recommended that an employee’s clothing do no harm in the event of arc flash.
The revised rule states that employees who are exposed to hazards from flames or arc flash are now required to wear flame resistant and arc flash protective clothing while on the job. Factors that determine whether an employee must wear protective clothing, as specified in the revised rule, include situations where:
- An electric arc could ignite flammable material
- Electric arcs or molten metal from faulted conductors could ignite an employee’s clothing
- Incident heat energy estimates exceed 2.0cal/cm2
- Employees may come in contact with energized circuits operating at more than 600 volts
Employers are responsible for providing employees with compliant protective clothing that won’t melt, ignite or burn. The only exceptions are for certain items meant to protect the head, hands and feet. Flame-resistant and arc flash personal protective clothing must be provided by April 1, 2015.
Dual-Hazard Protective Clothing
As safety standards develop and expand, and workers find that they are facing more than one hazard at a time in their jobs, the demand for clothing that protects against several hazards at once is increasing.
Although dual-hazard flame resistant (FR) clothing has been manufactured for years, in the past the fabric generally performed better in one area. Now fabrics exist that can offer the same level of protection for all hazards they defend against.
In fact, many newer dual-hazard fabric blends offer arc ratings exceeding 8 cal/cm², meeting NFPA 70E HRC Level 2, while also fulfilling NFPA 2112 flash fire requirements.
Dual-hazard clothing can be beneficial to employers affected by the revised 1910.269 ruling not only because it protects workers from multiple risks, but also because it’s cost effective, allowing you to get more bang for your buck.
While dual-hazard clothing can be both useful and cost effective, it may not be the perfect choice for every employer affected by OSHA’s revised rule. Situations may still exist which require different sets of protective clothing. Employers should continue to research the protective clothing best suited for the jobs their employees perform, taking into consideration factors such as comfort, durability and level of protection.