Sharing Arc Flash Suits in the Time of Covid-19 Pandemic
There are many industrial workplaces with multiple electricians on-site, but little high-hazard work to warrant getting everyone a personal arc flash suit. This short article will provide a few observations our customer support team made by talking to many of our electrician clients since the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020 in the US.
Best choice for arc flash kit use during a pandemic
The best choice from the safety side is easy - get an arc flash kit for each of your electricians, no sharing.
Getting a fan on your hood might further help - it would move the air and reducing accumulation of particles. It will keep things cleaner.
Arc flash suits can get expensive, so its understandable when a company needs to save some money, especially when business prospects may not be very stable. Consider the potential costs when thinking about sharing suits or skipping on some of the suit accessories.
Let’s say you have two or more electricians in the facility and they share protective gear. If one of them gets diagnosed with COVID-19 - would that mean that you’ll have to isolate the other electricians until they get tested and confirmed clear? What if multiple electricians get sick, infecting each other? You would end up with multiple electricians missing, meaning that production may halt in case of issues. You may also be on the hook for having an unsafe environment in the time of a pandemic.
Potentially workable arc flash suit sharing
In cases where getting multiple kits or suits is unfeasible due to timing or any other reason, consider at least getting each electrician their own headgear (hood or hard hat and face shield). The lens and material around the head (if using a hood) would be most exposed to breath and accumulation of particles and potential virus. You’ll reduce the risk if that part is never shared.
It would also be best to avoid sharing gloves. This would help reduce the risk that an electrician infects the inside of a glove, and another one then gets the virus by wearing the gloves and rubbing their eye afterwards.
Using disinfectant sprays on the hood and gloves may also help, but would require care and control - proper spray coverage and after every use. You’d also need to wait until the gear dries to prevent potentially hazardous fumes (and even after it dries, spray particles or vapors may still cause harm). Spraying the gloves may damage their protective properties, depending on the glove material and disinfectant used.
What we’ve seen electricians do
In the months since the pandemic started, we’ve seen most companies switch from having a shared coat and leggings suit for multiple electricians to providing a personal suit for each employee (coat and leggings is most convenient for sharing for quick tasks, as it fits the widest range of sizes and is quickest to put on).
With the pandemic causing huge financial strain on most companies, we’ve also seen a few companies get extra hoods and gloves as a measure. Finally, we’ve observed a few managers get a single additional coat, with the idea of laundering more frequently (one on the floor, one sent out for cleaning).
It is up to you to keep you and your team safe, and your company clear from liability. Sharing suits during a pandemic can be risky, but may be feasible if done right and carefully.
If interested in exploring getting additional suits and accessories - check out our arc flash kits, arc flash hoods, electrical gloves, and other arc flash clothing items that may help keep your team safer and comfortable.
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