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May 26, 2016

Q&A Series: Care of Arc-Rated (AR) PPE

End-users contact us frequently with questions regarding the use, care, and retest requirements of their arc-rated PPE. To help get the message out, we’ve compiled a series of 3 posts that answer the questions we are most commonly asked, and a list of standards that provide more information on caring for flame-resistant (FR) and arc-rated (AR) PPE. This is the first article in the series of three; check back to learn more about maintenance and retest requirements!

Q: How many washes can my arc-rated garment be laundered before the rating is compromised?

A: Many manufacturers today provide treated flame-resistant and arc-rated clothing that is flame-resistant for the life of the garment, if cared for in accordance with manufacturer instructions. Some products are inherently FR and some are treated to become FR–both bring value to the industry.  If you are following the care procedures, this shouldn’t be much of a concern. While not required by any standard, we do perform “garment audits” for end users who want to make it a part of their assurance program and check that employees are caring for their garments properly. This consists of a destructive, small-scale vertical flame test to determine if field clothing would still meet the industry requirements for ASTM D6413. We can arc test garments using ASTM F2621 or ASTM F1959 to evaluate the continued performance at the rating, but this is costlier and is typically not necessary.

Q: Can dirty apparel still be used?

A: Best practice would be to have the garments cleaned. We have studied the effects of several contaminants on arc rated clothing with arc testing, and we found (as expected) that hydrocarbons will ignite at some level, but small amounts are unlikely to be life-threatening. Pure hydrocarbons were found to be more dangerous than hydrocarbons mixed with non-flammable contaminants. Flammable substances produce a petroleum or chemical odor and should be completely removed from garments, as they can compromise the flame resistance. Most normal dirt will cause limited effect on the arc protection of a garment.

Q: Are there any standards or guides for the care of Arc Rated clothing?

A: Take a look at the guides below for additional guidance on the care of your AR and FR clothing. Additionally, a new ASTM standard has been proposed under the F23 committee to detail laundry, inspection, repair, and retirement of AR clothing. ArcWear staff will participate in the development of this document (if you are interested in participating, join the committee), and we will post updates as they become available.

Further Questions? Contact us or comment! Check back on June 9th to read the next post in the series on maintenance of arc-rated and flame-resistant PPE.

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