May 16, 2013 | Hugh Hoagland |

NFPA 70E: How This Standard Changed Arc Flash Gloves Forever

Major Changes to Arc Flash-Rated Gloves

The 2012 NFPA 70E standard brought forth some major changes for hand protection. Mainly, the new standard heavily promotes the use of arc flash-rated gloves.

s18kgne arc flash-rated gloves

Since the 2000 version that first mentioned gloves in possible arc flash exposures, the standard has moved toward better hand protection.

Statistics indicate the hands and face are the number-one and number-two body areas injured by arc-flash burns. Even low-level arcs often burn the hands, and it is completely unnecessary.

In 2012, the NFPA 70E Electrical Safety in the Workplace standard illustrates another change:

You could now use leather or arc flash-rated gloves for arc-flash protection unless there was also a shock hazard.

That means that in situations where shock is not a hazard, but arc flash is, (like operating low-voltage equipment with the doors closed), a new product classification for arc flash-rated gloves has been gaining interest.

The 2012 standard changed the requirements for leather gloves:

  • Pre-2012, leather gloves were measured by weight.
  • Post-2012, leather needed a rating or a minimum thickness of 0.7mm.

There are very few leather gloves that can guarantee this thickness. That’s why arc flash-rated gloves are now becoming the norm.

Arc Flash-Rated Gloves are Transitioning to Multi-Hazard Gloves:

Multiple hazards exist in every workplace–chemical exposure, cut, arc flash, flash fire–to name a few.

To which PPE manufacturers started asking this question: “What if we had PPE that protected from those multiple hazards and was still comfortable?”

Evolution in Textiles are Creating Better Options Than Ever Before

About eight years ago, a company contacted me about gloves for operators in a refinery. They worked with controls and operated valves, did some mechanical troubleshooting but would operate LV motor starters, contacts, and disconnects.

refinery worker

These workers needed a glove that had some cut resistance, but could protect against oils and tar, and could also protect them in the event of an arc flash and a flash fire.

The gloves they were using worked for protecting them from cuts and oils, but the safety engineers at the company did not believe the gloves could protect from arc flash.

We used the test method that we were developing to test rubber insulating gloves for ignition and arc flash protection to test these gloves. Under this standard, the gloves had between a 4 and 7 cal/cm² rating.

And the arc flash-rated glove market was born.

Thanks to the passing of the 2012 NFPA 70E standard, more gloves will be created that will protect workers from arc flash and other hazards.

These types of innovations keep people safe and comfortable — which is what every safety director wants to see.


Read our interview with Hugh Hoagland for more information on arc flash-rated gloves.

Hugh Hoagland
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