NFPA 70E 2018 — An Overview of 4 Different Arc Flash PPE Categories

personal protective equipment

An unfortunate truth about Arc Flash incidents is that they can occur regardless of training. Without proper protective measures, workers are left exposed to dangerous conditions and have to suffer the consequences. Every year, more than 2,000 people are admitted to burn centers with severe arc-flash burns.

Participate Now!

While arc-flash cannot be completely eliminated, there are steps we can take to prevent it. The single most important measure is placing the equipment in a “Safe Working Conditions” If it is more dangerous to turn the equipment off, workers should wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Arc flash PPE is required by NFPA 70E (2018) as per 130.7:

NFPA 70E (2018) has identified various Flame Resistant Hazardous Risk Category levels. These are broken down into a total of four categories, ranging in severity from 1 to 4.

LEVEL 1 CONTAINS THE LEAST PPE, WHILE LEVEL 4 CONTAINS THE MOST. Enter heading here…

For example, working with low-voltage wiring with minimal likelihood of an arc flash occurring would not require extensive PPE. On the other hand, working on a high-voltage machine involves a very serious risk of an arc flash, so a category 4 rated PPE is likely going to be needed in this case.

Each category includes the minimum Arc Rating value for the required PPE, which represents the amount of incident energy (in cal/cm², or calories of heat energy per square centimeter) on a fabric or material that carries a 50% probability of causing a second degree skin burn injury.

In other words, you have a 50% chance of being burned if exposed to an electric arc with the same number of calories of heat. The arc rating indicates the level of protection provided by Flame Resistant (FR) clothing measured in cal/cm². The higher the value the greater the protection.

Click here to read brief overview of each of these four PPE Categories. Here you will find Minimum arc rating, AR Clothing, AR Face and head protection of each category and its need also.

Let us know if you have any queries regarding this topic and do provide us with your feedback in the comments.

Leaders in Industrial & Commercial Power Systems Engineering