Arc Flash Clothing
We sell a wide range of arc flash rated clothing at PK Safety. Arc flash personal protective equipment (PPE) protects workers dealing with tasks that could lead to injuries from electrical shock or high-intensity heat. Flash fires occur when flammable gases come in contact with an ignition source, including industrial equipment that produces a spark. Unlike flame resistant clothing, arc flash PPE comes with an arc flash rating based on rigorous testing for a demonstrable level of protection. All arc rated clothing is inherently flame resistant, but not all FR clothing has an arc rating.
You will find arc flash clothing for daily wear, ArcShield products, arc flash coveralls, coats, pants, arc flash hoods, suits, harnesses, and kits from brands like DBI-SALA, NSA, Oberon, PIP, and Saf-Tech.
What is the difference between FR clothing and arc rated clothing?
Arc rated (AR) clothing is not the same as flame resistant (FR) clothing. The terms have different applications and shouldn’t be confused with one another.
The term “flame resistant” can be applied to any type of clothing with flame resistance, but these items meet any specific standards relating to any particular hazard.
To obtain the arc flash rating, FR clothing must be tested to see how well the material holds up against flash fires. Exposing FR clothing to flash fires establishes the Energy Break-Open Threshold, represented in calories per square foot, or the point at which the fabric starts to break down due to excess heat. This number serves as the arc rating for the fabric.
At least 20 garment samples must be exposed to flash fire during the testing process. Sensors record the amount of heat going through the fabric, and the results are analyzed using the Stoll Curve, which sets the level of heat needed to create a second-degree burn. The results show at what point there is a 50% probability of the person developing second-degree burns.
AR clothing falls into one of four categories:
- Category 1: Minimum Arc Rating of 4 cal/cm2, i.e., a single layer of fabric.
- Category 2: Minimum Arc Rating of 8 cal/cm2. Fabric is slightly thicker than Category 1.
- Category 3: Minimum Arc Rating of 25 cal/cm2. Includes additional insulation and a FR hood, gloves, and other FR clothing.
- Category 4: Minimum Arc Rating of 40 cal/cm2. Highest level of protection offered.
By this logic, all AR clothing is flame resistant, but not all FR clothing is arc rated. Look for these terms when selecting PPE for your work environment.
How do I know if my clothes are arc rated?
All arc rated clothing has a label or tag indicating the official arc rating and classification level. The clothing must have an arc rating tag to be considered arc rated, even if it claims to be flame resistant.
Does arc flash clothing expire?
Arc flash clothing doesn’t typically expire, but it should be cleaned and maintained over time, or it loses its protective properties. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when laundering FR clothing and avoid using products, such as fabric softeners, that reduce effectiveness. If the clothing is torn or has a hole, it must be patched with the same arc rated fabric or removed from rotation. Arc flash clothing should also be comfortable to wear in the field. This includes having multiple sizes available or adjustable straps to fit all body types.