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Should Metal Closures be used in Arc Rated Clothing

Arc flash clothing

 

Can a shirt with a metal snap or a metal zipper meet the Arc Rated Clothing standards?

The question of whether metal closures should be used on arc rated clothing is raised regularly by end users especially in relation to zippers and press studs. Hugh Hoagland from e-Hazard in the US recently posed the question “Can a shirt with a metal snap or a metal zipper meet ASTM F1506 and NFPA 70E?”. Hugh’s answer “This is a matter of opinion and there is some controversy about the issue”. So there appears to be no conclusive answer to this question so we thought we would clear up how and why Elliotts have approached this issue. 

 

Do Elliotts use Metal Closures in the Arc Rated Clothing?

Elliotts have been manufacturing arc rated clothing for over 10 years. Based on international and local research when designing our garments, we choose not to use metal closures. There were two key factors in our decision:

The first was the requirement of NFPA 70E which was the only real modern standard at the time which had requirements for FR Clothing or what is now known as Arc Rated Clothing which states that “Conductive articles of jewellery and clothing (such as watchbands, bracelets, rings, key chains, necklaces, metalized aprons, cloth with conductive thread, metal headgear, or metal frame glasses) shall not be worn within the restricted approach boundary or where they present an electrical contact hazard with exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts.” The second key factor was larger electrical utility end users who were selecting to not use metal-based closures.

 

What Type of Closures are used in Arc Rated Clothing?

There are various types of closure systems used in Arc Rated clothing, Elliotts Arc Rated Clothing utilises various types of closure systems and does not utilise any metal-based components. Closure systems include:

 

 arc rated clothing traditional button closure
  • Traditional Button Closure – this is mainly used in our standard arc rated shirts
Arc flash clothing button closure
  • Placket Front Button Closure – traditional buttons covered by a layer of material. This style of closure is a requirement of Australian Standard ENA NENS 09 National Guideline for the Selection, Use and Maintenance of Personal Protection Equipment for Electrical Arc Hazards 
Arc flash clothing button snaps zipper closure
  • Combination Button Snaps / Zipper – this style of closure is commonly used in trousers. The zipper is covered and the trouser is secured at the waistband with a larger traditional button. While Elliotts primarily use non-metal zippers, brass zippers can be used if required as they are non-sparking and do not cause static electricity.  (insert photo)
Arc rated clothing combination zipper and button closure
  • Combination Zipper / Button – this style of closure is commonly used in premium style coveralls. The zipper starts at the crutch and continues to the upper chest area where the final section is secured by plastic button snaps. The whole closure system is covered by a placket so nothing is exposed to a potential arc flash. The zipper ensures that the closure does not have any openings that may occur while working.
Arc rated clothing zipper and hook closure
  • Combination Zipper / Hook & Loop – usually used in wet weather garments. A Non-metal zipper usually utilising larger teeth size 8 or 10 is utilised internally and covered by a storm flap (multiple layers of outer material) which is then pressed closed using a Hook & Loop material. This style of closure works extremely well in keeping out water and does ensure there are no gaps in the closure. This style of closure has been successfully tested on Elliotts garments by Kinectrics to ASTM F2621-06 Standard Practice for Determining Response Characteristics and Design Integrity of Arc Rated Finished Products in an Electric Arc Exposure.
Arc flash hook and loop closure
  • Hook & Loop – this style of closure is utilised in Arc Flash Garments. The 50mm wide hook and loop when closed provides a very secure closure with no gaps. This style of closure has been successfully tested on Elliotts garments by Kinectrics to ASTM F2621-06 Standard Practice for Determining Response Characteristics and Design Integrity of Arc Rated Finished Products in an Electric Arc Exposure.

 

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