Selecting the right PPE Equipment as an Electrician
When working with energized equipment, maintenance technicians and electricians need to select the right PPE Equipment for themselves. Wearing less than required PPE can cause harm and even led to death and wearing more PPE will cause hindrance in performing your tasks.
The most commonly used PPE are -
- Dust mask/ Respirators - Dust mask is the most commonly used PPE. It's widely used to safeguard the workers from inhaling harmful dust, gases, substances, particles that are mixed in the breathing air and are extremely dangerous.
- Protective Coveralls - Protective coveralls are another commonly used PPE. These are meant to protect and cover the whole body. Electrical workers should use arc-rated natural fibre apparel. Protective overalls to protect them from arc flash hazards.
- Asbestos PPE - Asbestos is a harmful substance that was widely used for construction purposes when it's harmful effects were not ruled out. Now, it's deemed as an extremely dangerous substance and it's removal from construction sites require the use of specific Asbestos PPE that is capable of providing adequate protection.
- Hearing Protection PPE - Hearing protection PPE has multiple uses and it's extremely useful in protecting the ears from loud sounds. Hearing protection is required when workers are working in the arc flash boundary. As the sound can rise to dangerous levels in an arc flash incident.
Additionally, PPE for eye protection, hard hats, gloves, footwear, etc. are also used depending upon the nature of the job, type of work requirements and the hazard present in the environment.
Employers must identify the hazard present at their workplace and then determine the right PPE type and rating workers must use. Failing in doing so will lead to accidents and mishaps at your workplace. Right PPE equipment is essential for the safety of your workers.
Selecting the Right PPE Equipment as an Electrician
To guide the workers in the right PPE equipment selection, it’s important to define the hazard risk and categorize it. This will help the workers to understand the level of hazard they will face and guide them in picking the right PPE.
Specific PPE is required for doing electric works. Handling energized equipment or switching operations, you did need to wear insulated gloves and dielectric shoes. The gloves must be suitable for the working voltage and the gloves must be tested. This labeling chart according to American National Standards Institute and American Society for Testing and Materials can be used as reference –
PPE for Arc Flash
In the risk of Arc Flash, these are the protective wear that is required -
- Arc Flash protection hood.
- Flame resistant protective clothing.
- Hard hat.
- Insulated Gloves rated for the voltage of energized equipment.
- Safety Glasses.
- Leather footwear.
- Face shield.
To determine which PPE you exactly need, check the NFPA 70E, Table 130.7(C)(16). This table gives information about 4 different PPE categories that you will need to select from. These categories are based upon the voltage level and the type of task you’re performing. Each category will tell you the necessary PPE required for the assigned task.
For safely conducting electrical works PPE is not the first line of defense for electricians and technicians because they work with energized equipment. These other tips should be followed to ensure your safety when working with energized equipment –
- All equipment should be tested, rated and appropriately labeled.
- Non-conductive materials should be used to protect the exposed body parts.
- Employers should conduct a hazard assessment and determine the right PPE for electricians and technicians.
- Provide training to the workers for the proper use of PPE by them. They should be aware of how and when to wear PPE.
- Additionally, electric power workers use insulating protective equipment. Line hoses, rubber hoods, rubber blankets, hot sticks, switch sticks, shotgun sticks are often used for protecting themselves. These insulated protective equipment are not worn by workers so, these are not considered as PPE but there use is crucial for the safety of workers.
- Certain PPE like - insulating rubber gloves and sleeves, needs to be inspected and tested for defects and damages.
The work of an electrician and technicians who have to handle energized equipment must take utmost care not only in determining and selecting the right PPE, but also follow the safety instructions for the usage of their energized equipment.
Complete information about the level of the hazard should be determined and provided to the workers by their employers. This along with right PPE must be made available for every single worker.