Still Sharing Electrical PPE? It’s Time to Change
By: Mike Enright
As we continue to fight through the pandemic, the popular practice of having workers share electrical PPE, including arc flash suits, hoods & face shields and even gloves, quickly started to change. If you think about it, it would be unacceptable to have a nurse take off the medical PPE they were wearing at the end of the day, put it in a gear bag overnight and then have a different nurse open the bag and don the same PPE the next day. Yet this is often what happens with electrical PPE today.
We’ve asked dozens of safety professionals how, when and why this practice of sharing electrical PPE ever started in the first place. The short answer is that after the NFPA 70E standard was updated in 2000, many compaines wanted to provide their workers with the proper electrical PPE so they would comply with the new arc flash requirements in the standard. At the time, sharing electrical PPE seemed like a viable option to help keep the upfront costs down. This approach started to spread until it slowly morphed into an “industry norm”. The pandemic has presented a huge challenge to these programs and companies are now scrambling to figure out a new solution.
There is no question, the upfront cost of electrical PPE is much higher than many other types of PPE. This makes providing each worker with their own individual electrical PPE kit seem like an expensive proposition. However, many case studies over the years have proven that the overall costs associated with just one serious injury or fatality would more than pay for an individual electrical PPE program for many years or even decades. In addition, electrical PPE is very durable and it routinely lasts 5-10 years in the field. It’s also human nature to take better care of something that is personal to you, which lowers replacement costs due to loss and damage. As a result, although the upfront expense of issuing electrical PPE to each worker will be higher, it would balance out over time so the “cost per wear” would not be much more in the long run.
The other concern we’ve heard is “what if an employee leaves the company and we get caught holding the PPE bag?” (literally). Fortunately, it’s easy for companies to properly clean & disinfect the electrical PPE so they can reissue them to a new employee in a safe condition. Enespro recently published a care & maintenance guide, based on the CDC guidelines, to explain how to effectively clean electrical PPE kits.
Many companies have already started to work on this shared electrical PPE problem. The easiest solution is to issue each electricians their own PPE kit. If that isn’t possible in these challenging economic times, companies can consider limiting the number of electricians that work on tasks requiring PPE until they have a budget to purchase more PPE kits.
It’s important to note that, regardless of how companies solve this shared PPE issue, if workers view wearing electrical PPE as a painful experience, they may not wear it properly or wear it at all (especially when no one is looking). This could negatively impact compliance rates and, more importantly, worker safety would be comprised.
Enespro’s mission has always been to improve the electrical PPE user experience through collaboration and continuous innovation to increase compliance and help make workers safer. We’re thrilled to have so many positive testimonials from safety professionals confirming that this has been their experience with Enespro arc flash PPE kits.
We’re so confident you’ll agree, we’re offering everyone an opportunity Enespro products through a no obligation 30-day wear trial. Please contact us today to start a trial or set up a live “virtual” presentation to learn more about Enespro.
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