Can rainwear be arc rated and flame resistant?

By Dionne Murray | Published: May 1, 2019

Yes waterproof, windproof, arc rated flame-resistant gear is available. It is necessary because arc flashes can happen in many different environments, including outside in any weather conditions. Employees who work on electrical equipment or around combustible gases or vapors need protection from both the elements and arc flash or flash fire conditions.

What Is an Arc Flash?

An arc flash is an undesired electric discharge that travels through the air between conductors or from a conductor to a ground. The resulting violent explosion is very dangerous, with temperatures that could reach up to 35,000°F. An arc flash can cause fires, ignite clothing, burn skin, and can be lethal.

With that kind of heat and speed, it's clear that workers exposed to arc flashes won't be safe from harm just because they're working in the rain.

Those who are exposed to arc flashes while working outdoors will need PPE that is both arc-resistant and provides them with protection against the weather.

(Learn about 4 Solutions to Eliminate Arc Flash Hazards in the Workplace.)

Protecting Workers from Rain and Arc Flashes

Rainwear and foul weather gear choices that are waterproof and windproof can vary greatly in terms of the fabric technology. For arc or flash fire qualified materials, they are generally broken down into two types: non-breathable coated FR fabrics and breathable tri-laminate fabrics.

Within these two categories, you will have fabrics that vary greatly in terms of protection levels (i.e. arc rating or flash fire protection). They can also vary greatly in terms of price, features, and comfort. A thorough examination of these four key areas is an important part of the selection process.

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Written by Dionne Murray | Sr. Product Manager – High Visibility and Rainwear

Dionne Murray

Dionne brings more than thirty years of experience in safety product knowledge and training. Starting in the family business, Safety & Supply Company in the 80s, Dionne developed her passion for product knowledge and training. She served the industry on the Washington State Construction Safety Council, ASSE and Labor & Industry. She has conducted training programs in fall protection, respiratory fit testing, gas detection and calibration and hearing conservation and has assisted users in many industries in proper selection and application of fall protection systems, gas detection systems, arc-rated / flame resistant clothing and rainwear and high visibility safety apparel.

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