ASTM F1506-20: Flame Resistant, Electric Arc Rated Clothing

Bright purple electric arc illuminating the dark specified in ASTM F1506-20.

In some workplaces, exposed skin can mean skin exposed to danger. In fact, under certain conditions, the damage can go beyond subcutaneous and even be life threatening. This is why protective clothing exists. Users can reference the measurable results captured from ASTM F1506-20: Standard Performance Specification for Flame Resistant and Electric Arc Rated Protective Clothing Worn by Workers Exposed to Flames and Electric Arcs for flame resistant and arc resistant protective clothing.

Flame Resistant (FR) and Arc Rated (AR) Clothing

Flames are common hazards to workers, so it is important to wear flame resistant (FR) clothing when in contact with fire or in an environment where conflagrations are possible. Similarly, personnel in contact with electrical systems can come face-to-face with electric arcs. These take place as an electric current passes through air when insulation or isolation between electrified conductors becomes insufficient to withstand the supplied voltage.

Electric arcs happen every day, and, even though they are immediate bursts of energy, they can be disastrous. Some electric arcs are as high 35,000°F, four times the temperature of the sun’s surface. However, arcs can vary in intensity, with some resulting in minor injuries and others causing death. For workers in contact with electric arcs, arc rated (AR) clothing is crucial.

About ASTM F1506-20

All clothing with an arc rating is flame resistant, but not all FR clothing has an arc rating. Therefore, despite frequently being bundled together, these values describe different qualities of garments.

ASTM F1506-20 covers FR and AR clothing, acting as a performance specification for both. Specifically, it identifies performance guidelines to determine the arc rating of fabrics, the flame resistance of fabrics and subassemblies, the mechanical durability of the fabrics and subassemblies, the minimum garment construction and performance guidelines, and the garment labeling guidelines for the completed protective clothing worn by workers exposed to flames and electric arcs.

Bright fire over black background for which only ASTM F1506-20 FR and AR rated clothing can protect against.

Changes to ASTM F1506-20

ASTM F1506-20 revises and supersedes the previous edition of the same standard, ASTM F1506-19a. It contains the following changes from the past version:

  • Definitions for conformance and critical components were added.
  • New Clause 9, “Product Conformance.”
  • New Clause 10, “Keywords.”
  • References were updated.

ASTM F1506-20: Standard Performance Specification for Flame Resistant and Electric Arc Rated Protective Clothing Worn by Workers Exposed to Flames and Electric Arcs is available on the ANSI Webstore.

Exclusions and Other Standards Relating to Electric Arcs

Please note that other standards address safety considerations for electric arcs. For example, the National Electrical Code, also known as NFPA 70, contains guidelines for warning labels, and NFPA 70E, the standard for electrical safety in the workplace, contains guidance for safeguarding workers from injury while working on or near exposed electrical conductors.

Furthermore, ASTM F2675/F2675M-19: Standard Test Method for Determining Arc Ratings of Hand Protective Products Developed and Used for Electrical Arc Flash Protection details hand protection from electric arcs. Hand protection is excluded from ASTM F1506-20.

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