Watch the recorded CSA Z462 and arc flash PPE webinar:

You can watch the full on-demand version of the webinar, which includes a Q&A section.

watch the on-demand version | The big changes to CSA Z462 and arc flash PPE

The CSA Z462 Technical Committee released the latest edition of CSA Z462 Workplace Electrical Safety Standards in January 2021.

You can imagine our excitement when Jim Pollard (yes that Jim Pollard) agreed to host our webinar on the major changes.

Jim is an award-winning electrical safety champion and voting member on the CSA Z462 Technical Committee.

Jim is also the Representative for Oberon Company in Canada. Oberon is a leading provider of arc flash personal protective equipment.

So who better than Jim to walk us through the major changes to the standard?

The BIG changes to CSA Z462 and arc flash PPE:

There were minor and major changes added to the 2021 edition of the standard including:

  • Revisions to footwear and outer layer requirements
  • Guidance on PPE requirements above 140 cal/cm2
  • New arc flash PPE category 5 (75 cal/cm2 minimum)
  • New arc flash PPE selection method (Annex V)

In the webinar, we focused mainly on the changes to arc flash PPE category 5.

This is the most significant change to the standard since 2004 when arc flash PPE categories were first introduced.

New arc flash PPE categories

Arc Flash Hazard SeverityCategory 1Category 2Category 3Category 4Category 5
Minimum Arc Rating of PPE4 cal/cm28 cal/cm225 cal/cm240 cal/cm275 cal/cm2

What need does arc flash PPE category 5 address?

man wearing arc flash PPE working on switchgearThe point of the new category 5 is to address a gap in protection for work tasks involving electrical switchgear, which usually operates at 600 volts in Canada.

When someone calculates arc flash thermal incident energy, they use the engineering formulas found in the IEEE 1584 Guide for Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations.

When the new formula is applied to 600-volt switchgear the calculated incident energy has significantly increased.

Since the basic principle of arc flash PPE selection is the protection must match or exceed the hazard, it meant the CSA Z462 Standard required a higher category to ensure workers were adequately protected.

The new category 5 has a minimum protection level that exceeds the worst-case scenario of 600-volt switchgear when using the CSA Z462 arc flash PPE category method.

New arc flash PPE selection method (Annex V)

The new edition of the Standard introduced a second method for arc flash PPE selection. Along with Table 6a which has been in previous editions, there is now Table V.1. This table is easier to use for electrical workers because it doesn’t require engineering knowledge or technical documents.

Jim outlined the differences between the two tables using this chart:

Table OptionsTable 6aTable V.1
BackgroundSince 2015New for 2021
Protection rangeCategory 1-5Category 1-5
Basis for selectionElectrical distribution system parametersData from the electrical equipment
Skill level requiredAdvancedGeneral

Using the new selection method option, the worker needs to identify the transformer size, fuse size or circuit breaker settings. With that information, they can easily select the appropriate category of arc flash PPE.

woman wearing arc flash PPE

Quit sharing PPE:

Arc flash PPE, specifically suits and hoods, have been the most commonly shared items between workers.

The outbreak of COVID-19 provided obvious reasons for why workplaces must abandon this practice.

Arc flash PPE is made of porous and non-porous surfaces as well as multiple layers of fabric. This makes it difficult to clean and disinfect between uses.

Employers have two options now:

  1. Remove the shared PPE from service for effective cleaning between uses, or
  2. Purchase individually assigned equipment.

Upgrading your category 4 suits to category 5 suits:

Based on his experience, Jim said about 80% of the suits in workplaces right now are 40 cal/cm2 suits.

Chances are you will need to upgrade your category 4 arc flash PPE to category 5 because of this change to the CSA Standard.

This may seem obvious but it’s worth repeating that if your workplace has 40 cal/cm2 suit and your hazard is now requiring category 5 protection, you aren’t sufficiently protected.

If you’re exposed to 73 cam/cm2 thermal incident energy, which is possible with 600-volt switchgear (based on Table 6a parameters), you are likely to receive significant skin burns.

Shop arc flash PPE:

We carry a great selection of category 5 arc flash PPE from Oberon including coats, coveralls and full kits.

Need something else? Shop our whole selection of arc flash PPE and flame-resistant clothing.

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Leslie Molin

Market Segment Manager - Personal Safety

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