Arc protective blankets are used in many electrical applications to protect workers who are stationed near energized electrical parts. While these blankets have been used for years, there have been no testing criteria for their evaluation. A new ASTM International standard will be used to determine the effectiveness of arc protective blankets in suppressing the combined effect of an arc flash and an arc blast. The new standard, ASTM F2676, Test Method for Determining the Protective Performance of an Arc Protective Blanket for Electric Arc Hazards, was developed by Subcommittee F18.65 on Wearing Apparel, part of ASTM International Committee F18 on Electrical Protective Equipment for Workers.
"Now companies have the ability to evaluate blankets with a repeatable standard that can be done at many test labs using an electric arc and a high speed camera," says Hugh Hoagland, technical consultant, ArcWear.com and e-Hazard.com, and a member of F18.
"Research showed the most critical factor was the current in amps and the time exposed," says Hoagland. "Now blankets can be compared." Hoagland also notes that, while ASTM F2676 will be initially used by utility companies, many electricity users in heavy industry will also benefit from being able to reference the new standard.
Subcommittee F18.65 is continuing its research in blanket use and care, and it next plans to investigate how blanket installation affects protection and how to further quantify protection. The subcommittee encourages participation, particularly from utilities, in its standards developing efforts.