Curious about retesting requirements to determine the continued effectiveness of your arc rated clothing? This is the final Q&A in our 3-part series on the care, maintenance, and retesting of arc rated PPE. We end our segment with one question we are asked frequently:
Q: Is some type of periodic garment/PPE testing required or recommended by NFPA 70E?
A: With the exception of dielectric gloves, there is no requirement to retest field clothing.
Once a compliant garment hits the market and goes to an end-user, no additional performance testing is required for the field. We do perform garment audit services for some concerned end users (including ASTM D6413 vertical flame testing on field garments), but garments are not returned as testing is destructive. At the end user level, we recommend only random testing for flame performance or in the event of an accident. We have found three garments in 20 years which failed a field garment evaluation, and none were involved in accidents. Some had been improperly washed by a laundry and others had been improperly washed by an employee at home, but in no case did these result in an accident.
Retesting of the fabric used to make the clothing falls under the manufacturer and is performed on the front-end. Per ASTM F1506, the arc test is considered a “design test”, meaning it is only required to be repeated upon a change in the material. The small-scale tests must be repeated periodically as a fabric is produced as a means of quality control on different lots of fabric.
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