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Electrical Protective Clothing

Once the hazard/risk category has been identified, either from NFPA 70E tables or an arc flash analysis, appropriate protective clothing can be selected. Protective clothing includes flame-resistant (FR) shirts, pants, coveralls, jackets, arc flash protective hoods and suits, eyewear, and head protection. The protective clothing selected for the corresponding hazard/risk category number shall have an appropriate arc rating for the hazard/risk category.

Materials that have an established arc flash rating (ATPV expressed in cal/cm2) are permitted to be used either alone or in combination with materials without an established rating. Layering increases the overall protective characteristics of flame-resistant clothing. 

  • Outer layers should be made of flame-resistant material, especially when used in conjunction with ignitable or meltable clothing, such as a rain suit.
    • Flame-resistant rainwear is now available.
    • The outer layers must limit the temperature rise of the ignitable underlayers to no more than 1.2 cal/cm2. 
  • Underlayers should be made of non-melting, natural fiber materials, such as untreated cotton, wool, rayon, silk, or blends of these materials. Meltable fibers such as acetate, nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and spandex shall not be permitted in the underwear next to the skin.
    • Incidental amounts of elastic used in non-melting fabric underwear or socks are permitted.

Clothing should cover all potentially exposed areas as completely as possible. Shirt sleeves should be fastened at the wrist and shirts and jackets shall be closed at the neck. Clothing should be loose-fitting to provide additional thermal insulation from the air space between layers and reduce the conduction of heat from the flame-resistant clothing to skin; however, it should fit properly (i.e. not so loose that it interferes with the work task).

Arc flash suits must be designed to meet all applicable ANSI and ASTM standards and shall have an arc rating. Safety glasses are required to be worn beneath face shields or hoods. Goggles should not be worn because they are permitted by ANSI to have an ignitable and meltable component.

Flame resistant clothing and arc flash suits must be inspected before each use for contamination or damage that could affect the protective qualities of the fabric, such as grease, oil, flammable or combustible liquids spills, or tears. Never use contaminated or damaged protective equipment. Care and maintenance per the manufacturer’s instructions must also be followed in order to maintain the protective properties. A simplified clothing system provides minimum protection for electrical workers in addition to other required personal protective equipment recommended for the specific task.

Everyday Work Clothing Arc Flash Suit
Appropriate for Hazard/Risk Category Tasks 1, 2, and 2*
Appropriate for Hazard/Risk Category Tasks 3 and 4

Flame-resistant long-sleeve shirt with FR pants or flame-resistant coveralls with a minimum arc rating (ATPV) of 8 cal/cm2

A total clothing system consisting of Flame-Resistant shirt and pants and/or flame-resistant coveralls and/or arc flash coat and pants with a minimum arc rating (ATPV) of 40 cal/cm2

The hands are probably the most exposed part of a worker’s body since they are the closest to the hazard. Voltage-rated gloves with leather protectors are required to be worn as appropriate for the task (see chart). Gloves must be tested by a third party before the first issue and every 6 months thereafter.

Class Max. Use Voltage AC Max. Use Voltage DC
00 500 750
0 1,000 1,500
1 7,500 11,250
2 17,000 25,500
3 26,500 39,750

Heavy duty leather work shoes provide some arc flash protection to the feet and shall be used in all tasks in hazard/risk category 2 and above.

Electrical Protective Tools and Equipment

When working inside the Limited Approach Boundary, workers must select and use work practices, including insulated tools that provide maximum protection from a release of energy. If contact with the exposed live part is likely, the worker must only use insulated tools.

Insulated tools must be rated for the voltages on which they are used, and they must be designed and constructed for the environment to which they are exposed and the manner in which they are used.

Fuse or fuse holding equipment must be insulated for the circuit voltage and shall be used to remove or install a fuse if the fuse terminals are energized. In an industrial setting, fuses should not be installed or removed energized. Where fuses are removed in an emergency, the fuse-handling equipment must be rated for the voltage. 

  • Fuses that are mounted on poles and removed and installed by using a “hot stick” may be exchanged routinely with the fuse terminals energized. 

Ropes and handlines used near exposed live parts operating at 50 volts or more, or used where an electrical hazard exists, shall be nonconductive.

Fiberglass-reinforced plastic rod and tube used for live line tools shall meet ASTM 711 requirements.

Portable ladders used near exposed live parts operating at 50 volts or more, or where an electrical hazard exists, shall have nonconductive side rails and meet ANSI standards.

Protective shields, protective barriers, or insulating materials shall be used to protect each employee from shock, burns, or other electrically related injuries while working near live parts that might accidentally be contacted, or where dangerous electric heating or arcing might occur.  When normally enclosed live parts are exposed for maintenance or repair, they shall be guarded to protect unqualified persons from contact with the live parts.

Rubber insulating equipment, such as line hose, covers, blankets, or sleeves used for protection from accidental contact with live parts shall meet applicable ASTM standards.  It must be tested by a third party as follows:

Type of Rubber Insulated Equipment

Testing Intervals

Line hose

Upon indication that the insulating value is suspect.


Upon indication that the insulating value is suspect.


Before first issue and every 12 months thereafter.


Before first issue and every 12 months thereafter.

Note:  If the insulating equipment has been electrically tested but not issued for service, it may not be placed into service unless it has been electrically tested within the last 12 months.

Contact Information

Robin McCall-Miller, Occupational Safety Program Manager