I've never seen the value in arc flash gloves.
Sure, they sound important enough, but is there any value in purchasing a pair and having them as part of your arc flash PPE arsenal? I'm leaning heavily towards no... and in this article, I walk you through my thought process as to why arc flash gloves are a big waste of money.
Arc flash gloves: What are we really talking about?
In the world of electrical safety, you really have two major hazards that you have to deal with. Arc flash and shock.
Arc flash is basically a massive explosion that has a multitude of tertiary hazards, our primary concerns being extreme heat energy and a fireball.
Shock hazard is basically what Louie the Lightning Bug was always talking about.
So what are arc flash gloves you ask?
Well, they are specially designed gloves that will protect a worker from the heat energy released during an arc flash (In case you are wondering they need to be tested to the ASTM F2675/F2675M Standard).
If they protect me, then what's the big deal?
The big deal is the other hazard... Louie's hazard.
In almost every case that an electrical worker is exposed to an arc flash hazard they are also exposed to a shock hazard. And surprisingly, shock hazard is the one we really need to be worried about.
More workers are injured by a shock than an arc flash every year.
So, for an electrician to properly prepare for a job and determine the necessary PPE required he or she will have to take into account both the arc flash hazard and the shock hazard.
In order to be protected from the shock hazard, a worker must use insulated rubber gloves with leather protectors.
So which one do you choose when faced with both hazards?
The beautiful thing is that rubber insulated gloves protect from both!
The electrical safety gods had some mercy on us all and decided that rubber insulated gloves would not only protect us from shock hazard but they would also do a fantastic job against arc flash.
See here what it says in CSAz462 (NFPA70E):
"If rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors are used, additional leather or arc-rated gloves shall not be required. The combination of rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors satisfies the arc flash protection requirement."
There you have it. If 95% (maybe more) of the jobs an electrician is doing will require rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors anyway, then why invest in a pair of arc flash gloves that can't be used to protect from shock?
So in conclusion, save your money... or if you haven't already, invest it in a good pair of rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors. Arc flash gloves are another one of those solutions to a problem you don't really have.
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