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Employer won't provide arc flash PPE

2268 Views 41 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  superdeez
Like the title says, working for a municipality that expects me to work hot in big old switchgear from the 1970s and won't provide arc flash protection.

There is a suit available to me, but it is meant for a much smaller individual. This hasn't come to a head--yet, but any other place I've been expected to work on stuff that could really go boom there's at least been a jumpsuit and the orange face shield available.

Would it be best to buy my own gear, refuse to work in gear with potential for a big arc or just find another employer?
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Sub transient reactance X”d worshiper.
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Wow lots of good advice.

There is nothing that I can add, that the-others have not said. Than, go home safe or better than the condition your were in (richer) than when you went to work that day.

You deserve it. Hell, we all do…..
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Yes, I wear electrical hazard boots. Also FR trousers from my old job. Primarily because they're cargo pants and I don't know how to survive without the cargo pockets lol.

To answer the issue of there is more going on here, there is. It's a very small department (6 guys and a secretary) that has one leg in the parks department and the other in Public Works. It had been between 6-12 months my position was open within the department and the guy that hired me apparently was either greatly misinformed or desperate enough to blatantly lie to me during the hiring process. It wasn't until I got an official orientation over three weeks into the job I learned what the benefits really were. It was a lesson in doing my homework, some of what he was greatly misinformed about was publicly available information.

Some arc flash studies have been done on newer gear or where things have been inspected. Believe it or not, this place actually has a sewage liftstation inside of a main switchgear room. It isn't even closed up, they just threw some plywood over the hole so people would be less likely to fall down into the cesspool. You can actually look down and see the raw sewage. They haven't asked me to do anything in there yet.

Job search is in progress, though talking to an attorney might not be a bad idea for damage control if a sudden end does come to this job. I've never seen so many panels with mystery wires shoved under the main lugs and going off God knows where. A 225A main breaker will protect that #12 when too many space heaters get plugged in, right? This from a 120v panel where literally every breaker is a tandem.

Most days it hasn't been too bad, but at some point it will end up coming to a head. Sad part is I left a job I liked for this place. I started casually looking because of some minor BS and the "seven year ache" and without even thinking about it wound up here. Actually I left a gravy train I could have ridden the next 20-30 years into retirement.

Anyway, thanks for all the replies. Oh yeah, and the throw a chain link fence into the panel...wouldn't it be better if I was wearing some oil soaked synthetic T-shirt to cut down on cremation costs? :p
 

· Coffee drinking member
I pretwist and then use wire nuts. Solder pots rule.
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Work for the federal government, they have a better track record for safety,,,, Well it took awhile, but it’s there.

USAJobs.gov
 

· Coffee drinking member
I pretwist and then use wire nuts. Solder pots rule.
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Oh crap, you're right. I guess I'm going to do it with a case of fluorescent lamps under each arm...if I'm going to get fined for polluting, I might as well make it count.
That’s the sprit, your a team player now.
 

· Chief Flunky
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Yes, I wear electrical hazard boots. Also FR trousers from my old job. Primarily because they're cargo pants and I don't know how to survive without the cargo pockets lol.

To answer the issue of there is more going on here, there is. It's a very small department (6 guys and a secretary) that has one leg in the parks department and the other in Public Works. It had been between 6-12 months my position was open within the department and the guy that hired me apparently was either greatly misinformed or desperate enough to blatantly lie to me during the hiring process. It wasn't until I got an official orientation over three weeks into the job I learned what the benefits really were. It was a lesson in doing my homework, some of what he was greatly misinformed about was publicly available information.

Some arc flash studies have been done on newer gear or where things have been inspected. Believe it or not, this place actually has a sewage liftstation inside of a main switchgear room. It isn't even closed up, they just threw some plywood over the hole so people would be less likely to fall down into the cesspool. You can actually look down and see the raw sewage. They haven't asked me to do anything in there yet.

Job search is in progress, though talking to an attorney might not be a bad idea for damage control if a sudden end does come to this job. I've never seen so many panels with mystery wires shoved under the main lugs and going off God knows where. A 225A main breaker will protect that #12 when too many space heaters get plugged in, right? This from a 120v panel where literally every breaker is a tandem.

Most days it hasn't been too bad, but at some point it will end up coming to a head. Sad part is I left a job I liked for this place. I started casually looking because of some minor BS and the "seven year ache" and without even thinking about it wound up here. Actually I left a gravy train I could have ridden the next 20-30 years into retirement.

Anyway, thanks for all the replies. Oh yeah, and the throw a chain link fence into the panel...wouldn't it be better if I was wearing some oil soaked synthetic T-shirt to cut down on cremation costs? :p
Raw sewage releases hydrogen sulfide. This attacks silver especially but also nickel and copper. Humans can smell it at 1 ppm and it becomes toxic at 10 ppm. But it will corrode electrical gear at 0.1 ppm.

That’s bad enough, but it gets worse. Google the words “silver whiskers”. Occasionally silver corrosion reverses and within hours to days grows long hair-like crystals of pure silver that can be inches long. Bus bars in switchgear and breakers especially in low voltage are loaded with silver.

It is so severe that one of my customers for instance is a “regular”…about every 3-5 years one of his two drives that are in a particularly bad lift station has to be replaced.

All reasons that you need to be extra cautious around sewage.
 

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From reading this thread it seems you should wear PPE when flipping the handle to something like this. I thought it was only if you were to stick your hands inside.
 

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From reading this thread it seems you should wear PPE when flipping the handle to something like this. I thought it was only if you were to stick your hands inside.
That’s what the study does. It tells you when you need protection, where you need it and how much you need. With out that information, we are in the dark.
 

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Electrical contractor 37 years. Electrical inspector 2 years
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NFPA 70E is for the abnormal condition. Open panels or damaged equipment. An intact panel in normal working condition does not require PPE. I am referring to low voltage or below 600 volts.

PPE is also the last resort and not the first choice.
 

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From reading this thread it seems you should wear PPE when flipping the handle to something like this. I thought it was only if you were to stick your hands inside.
We use 2 different types of PPE.

One protects you from a electrical shock the other protects you from a arc flash. When opening a breaker the risk of a electrical shock is low but the risk of a arc flash is higher then not opening the breaker.
Lets say you open the breaker and something that's not meant to come loose falls across the breaker ( i have had that happen ). Now you are relying on the cabinet containing the blast which its probably not rated to do. So arc flash gear is a good idea just in case its that one in a million day.
One day you might have the misfortune of opening a panel and finding a snake coiled up on top of a insulator and your going to be thankful you have the flash suit on. (its also good to wear the mask as i scream like a little girl if a frog jumps on me)
 

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Most of these videos show medium and high voltage incidents. They should have more 208 and 480 volt examples. The more common things most electricians work with. I personally know two people who got caught in an arc flash and both times it was the previous electricians fault. One was a pair of linemen pliers were left inside a piece of switchgear and when my friend was trying to jockey the cover off the pliers feel onto the buss. The large cover he was trying to take off is what protected him. The other case was an elevator technician was turning off a 100 amp disconnect to service the elevator and the arc shield was left off. The switch blew and he burnt his arm. Everyday applications.
 

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I had a 4160 volt starter blow up on me. I had just racked it in. I was standing next to it when the operator started it. It made a “funny” sound and I was a few steps into my sprint when the flames shot out around the door. If I had gone around the safeties and had the door open, it would have been a different story. We wore no fire resistant clothing back then.
 

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I had a 4160 volt starter blow up on me. I had just racked it in. I was standing next to it when the operator started it. It made a “funny” sound and I was a few steps into my sprint when the flames shot out around the door. If I had gone around the safeties and had the door open, it would have been a different story. We wore no fire resistant clothing back then.
That is when men were men. They were immune to electrical dangers.
 

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I had a size 5 open delta starter (480v) from Eaton grenade inside an MCC. Door open, so we could see what happened. I was impressed, the flames went out the holes, the magic was ejected, the sound quieted down and the starter on the outside looked fine. It completely held the fault inside. We returned it to Eaton and I never did get to see any pics of what the inside looked like. I have never operated a piece of equipment standing in front or with the door open again and never will.

The power we all work around is beyond comprehension at times. Back when this happened we did not even wear safety glasses.
 

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I had a size 5 open delta starter (480v) from Eaton grenade inside an MCC. Door open, so we could see what happened. I was impressed, the flames went out the holes, the magic was ejected, the sound quieted down and the starter on the outside looked fine. It completely held the fault inside. We returned it to Eaton and I never did get to see any pics of what the inside looked like. I have never operated a piece of equipment standing in front or with the door open again and never will.

The power we all work around is beyond comprehension at times. Back when this happened we did not even wear safety glasses.
Citation series or Freedom series?
 

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I want to say Advantage but it was so long ago I am not sure. Advantage was not one of the successful lines if I remember correctly.
 
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