Question: What is the recommended testing cycle for a 40 Cal arc flash suit?
I have a technician requesting the testing schedule of 40-cal suits. Are there required tests for arc flash suits in ASTM F1506, ASTM F2178, OSHA or NFPA 70E?
Answer: There are none.
Arc flash suits do not provide any shock protection. Shock protective gear (rubber insulating gloves, blankets, sleeves, hotsticks, etc) require periodic, non-destructive testing. Arc flash testing is destructive and therefore not required.
However, manufacturers typically recommend the following:
- Keep your arc flash suits clean and free of hydrocarbon build up (oil, grease and even grain dust). Launder according to manufacturer’s recommendations or dry clean if manufacturer allows.
- Replace the suit every 10 years (this is common for firefighter’s turnout gear and is a good idea).
- Replace the face shield every 5 years. If the face shield becomes badly scratched or discolored, replace it immediately.
- Develop a procedure to evaluate garments for flame resistance if they are laundered frequently (typically this does not occur with flash suits, but it does with uniforms). Some companies pull random garments from their uniforms and have them destructively flame tested to assure washing procedures are properly being followed. This is typically done as part of an arc flash garment audit (like those done by ArcWear Testing Lab) and can be built into your uniform company’s procedure. It is only necessary in companies which have unusual contaminants like oils and heavy metals which may require special cleaning techniques.
We have seen no garment failures which resulted in worker injury, but laundering and proper care assure this will always be the case.