Electrical Protective Equipment
Care and Use of Electrical Protective Equipment
Electrical PPE is worn to prevent exposure to electrical hazards.
Electrical Protective Equipment falls into two categories: Electrical PPE (PPE) and Insulating Protective Equipment (IPE)
Electrical (PPE). PPE refers to items typically worn by a worker to provide protection from recognized hazards. Depending on the job task to be performed, PPE for the electric power industry generally includes
- Rubber insulating gloves and leather protectors to protect the hands and arms
- Rubber insulating sleeves to protect the arms and shoulders
- Flame-resistant (FR) clothing to protect the body against arc flash
- Hoods to protect the head against arc flash
- Hard hats to protect the head from electrical shorts, and striking or being struck by objects
- Safety glasses and shields to protect the face against flying objects and arc flash
- Safety shoes and overshoes to protect the feet and worker from being grounded
Electrician wearing PPE and using IPE (hotstick).
Insulating Protective Equipment (IPE). Rubber and hardcover insulating protective equipment (IPE) is used to provide workers protection Workman in aerial bucket using IPE from contacting energized conductors, but unlike PPE it is not worn on the body. Insulating Protective Equipment (IPE) includes items such as:
- Insulating (rubber) line hose, blankets, and hoods.
- Insulating barriers made of fiberglass or phenolic resin.
- Live-line tools such as hotsticks, switchsticks, and shotgun sticks.
- Plastic or fiberglass line hoods and covers that can be installed with live-line tools.
All electrical protective equipment made of rubber should meet the established safety standards and specifications discussed below.
Note: For more on this topic, see Course 715, Electrical Safety for Technicians & Supervisors.
Electrician testing for voltages.
Prior to requiring workers to wear electrical PPE, employers are required to:
- Perform hazard assessments, as required, and determine the PPE needed to protect workers.
- Provide training on the proper use of PPE for working on or near exposed energized parts
- Discuss PPE needs during required job briefings.
- Inspect and test certain PPE such as insulating (rubber) gloves and sleeves to ensure that they are not damaged or defective, and will provide the needed protection.
Electrical protective equipment used for the protection of employees must be capable of withstanding, without failure, the voltages that may be imposed upon it. It must be rated for the AC voltage of the parts being covered (phase to ground or phase to phase) and are designated in 1910.137, Table 1-4, Rubber Insulating Equipment, Voltage Requirements. Below is a summary of the classifications:
- Class 00 - maximum voltage that may be safely used is 500 V
- Class 0 - maximum voltage that may be safely used is 1 KV
- Class 1 - maximum voltage that may be safely used is 7.5 KV
- Class 2 - maximum voltage that may be safely used is 17 KV
- Class 3 - maximum voltage that may be safely used is 26.5 KV
- Class 4 - maximum voltage that may be safely used is 36 KV
To make sure electrical protective equipment performs as designed, it must be inspected for damage before each day's use and immediately following any incident that can reasonably be suspected of having caused damage. Insulating gloves must be given an air test, along with the inspection.
Damaged electrical outlet.
Insulating equipment must not be used if any of the following defects are detected:
- a hole, tear, puncture, or cut;
- ozone cutting or ozone checking (the cutting action produced by ozone on rubber under mechanical stress into a series of interlacing cracks);
- an embedded foreign object;
- changes in the texture including, swelling, softening, hardening, or becoming sticky or inelastic; or
- any other defect that damages the insulating properties.
Insulating equipment found to have other defects that might affect its insulating properties must be removed from service and returned for testing. It must be cleaned as needed to remove foreign substances. It must be stored in such a location and in such a manner to protect it from:
- temperature extremes;
- excessive humidity;
- ozone; and
- other injurious substances and conditions.
Intricate electrical work with Class 00 gloves.
Electrical Protective Gloves
Protector gloves must be worn over insulating gloves. However, there are exceptions. Protector gloves are not required for the following conditions when small equipment and parts manipulation necessitate unusually high finger dexterity:
- When using Class 00 gloves, if the voltage does not exceed 250 volts, ac, or 375 volts, dc.
- When using Class 0 gloves, under limited-use conditions.
- When using any other class of glove:
- if the employer can demonstrate that the possibility of physical damage to the gloves is small, and
- if the class of glove is one class higher than that required for the voltage involved.
Employees using any class of gloves without protector gloves should take extra care to avoid handling sharp objects. Insulating gloves that have been used without protector gloves may not be used at a higher voltage until they have been tested.
Inspecting Gloves - Lineman's Testing Labs
Insulating equipment must be tested initially and regularly thereafter according to the following schedule from 1910.137, Table 1-5, Rubber Insulating Equipment, Test Intervals:
- Rubber insulating line hose. Test when indication that insulating value is suspect and after repair
- Rubber insulating covers. Test when indication that insulating value is suspect and after repair
- Rubber insulating blankets. Test before first issue and every 12 months thereafter; upon indication that insulating value is suspect; and after repair.
- Rubber insulating gloves. Test before first issue and every 6 months thereafter; upon indication that insulating value is suspect; after repair; and after use without protectors.
- Rubber insulating sleeves. Test before first issue and every 12 months thereafter; upon indication that insulating value is suspect; and after repair.
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 previous 12 months.
American Safety High Voltage Test Lab
As mentioned earlier in the module, electrical protective equipment must be subjected to periodic electrical tests. Test voltages and the maximum intervals between tests must be in accordance with 1910.137, Table 1-4, Rubber Insulating Equipment, Voltage Requirements and Table I-5, Rubber Insulating Equipment, Test Intervals.
The test method used must reliably indicate whether the insulating equipment can withstand the voltages involved. Repaired insulating equipment must be retested before it may be used by employees.
Note: Standard electrical test methods considered as meeting this requirement are given in the national consensus standards of The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
If the insulating equipment fails to pass inspections or electrical tests, it may not be used by employees. Below is a list of exceptions:
- Rubber insulating line hose may be used in shorter lengths with the defective portion cut off.
- Rubber insulating blankets may be repaired using a compatible patch that results in physical and electrical properties equal to those of the blanket.
- Rubber insulating blankets may be salvaged by severing the defective area from the undamaged portion of the blanket. The resulting undamaged area may not be smaller
than 22 inches by 22 inches (560 mm by 560 mm) for Class 1, 2, 3, and 4 blankets.
- Rubber insulating gloves and sleeves with minor physical defects, such as small cuts, tears, or punctures, may be repaired by the application of a compatible patch.
Also, rubber insulating gloves and sleeves with minor surface blemishes may be repaired with a compatible liquid compound. The patched area must have electrical and
physical properties equal to those of the surrounding material. Repairs to gloves are permitted only in the area between the wrist and the reinforced edge of the opening.
The employer must certify that equipment has been tested in accordance with the requirements of the standard, and the certification must identify the equipment that passed the test and the date it was tested.
Marking equipment and entering the results of the tests and the testing dates onto logs are two acceptable ways to meet this requirement.