How Old is TOO Old for Arc Flash PPE?

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How Old is TOO Old for Arc Flash PPE?

Q: Is there an ASTM F1506 revision before which I should not use the PPE any longer?

I have been collecting PPE that is no longer being used by certain individuals, so that they could be inspected, clean and reissued.  

For example, I have some suits that look good, but they were certified to ASTM F1506-15.  Lots of revisions have come out since then. 

Is it okay to still use these garments?

A: Only the 1998 version of ASTM F1506 causes any concern from a standardization perspective.

It did not include an arc rating.

But you are very unlikely to find anything labeled to that standard. 

I would be concerned only with something OVER 10 years old (that is a rule of thumb for firefighter’s turnout gear).

Face shields and hard hats should be replaced every 5 years according to most companies. Suspension in the hard hat should typically be replaced every 1-2 years (nothing to do with arc flash on suspensions).

Obviously, if a manufacturer recommends any other frequencies, follow their advice. But these are good rules of thumb.

Have a question about electrical safety and standards?

Hugh Hoagland

does research and testing of PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Hugh is a Sr. Consultant at ArcWear and Sr. Partner at e-Hazard. Read more about Hugh.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Alexander Aryshkov

    Certainly one should take into consideration that no matter how good the gear looks after years of usage. The protective properties decline within the life cycle of the garment and there’s no liable method to define certain degree of this declination until you have to destroy the clothing. So one of the good although not cheapest solutions is carry out periodic arc tests on fabrics/garments after use to evaluate what arc protection is usually left.

    1. Hugh Hoagland

      Thanks Alex! Good to hear from you. We do recommend periodic testing. Vertical flame testing typically will let a company know if there is a compromising of the flame resistance. Arc testing is more costly and not as subtle. We have many companies over the years who have taken representative uniforms and arc flash suits of service to do an arc flash garment evaluation to assure their replacement policy and laundering was working. A few have found issues with contamination and improper laundering. This is a good practice. Thanks for the mention.

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