By Andrew Linley, Compliance Director, Electrical Safety UK Limited
Arc flash PPE has become the default control measure and within the United States, until recently, was the prescribed control measure. However, within the UK and within Europe, this is not the case and legally (through Regulation 4 and Schedule 1 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 in the UK) the control measure to be implemented must be appropriate to the risk present and the hierarchy of control must be adopted.
A culture of imposing mandatory Arc Flash PPE has started to evolve in the UK where either person are put in clothing where the ATPV value of that clothing does not offer protection against the incident energy present, or the wearing of full arc flash suits is blanket imposed, putting the wearer at risk through reduced mobility and risk of heat exhaustion for no reason at all.
Arc flash PPE does have a role to play in keeping people safe, however, as with all PPE, it should be considered as a last line of protection, rather than the answer to all of our problems.
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