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The most effective way to protect workers is to stop sharing PPE.
Many of us grew up with the adage, “Sharing is Caring”. This is certainly not the case when it comes to Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) during a global pandemic such as COVID-19.
Although it was common practice by some employers to share worker PPE, it is no longer acceptable or safe. The sharing of equipment including arc flash suits, face shields, insulating rubber gloves and sleeves, is contrary to the enforcement of physical-social distancing mandated by public health officials and government authorities to reduce the spread of this novel coronavirus.
Handwashing continues to be the number 1 tip for preventing the spread of the virus. It is not recommended that you share insulating rubber gloves due to possible contamination on hands. Arc flash hoods and face shields are of high risk for spread due to the proximity of the face shield to the mouth and nose. When a worker exhales, coughs or sneezes, bodily fluid is secreted onto the interior surface of the shield. The same is true for arc flash suits as spray disinfectants are ineffective on the porous fabric surface.
3 Tips to Ensure your Insulating Rubber Gloves and Sleeves are Safe for Use
1. DO NOT share your gloves or sleeves!
LTL recommends individually assigned insulating rubber gloves and sleeves. Germs and viruses are spread through close contact or by contaminated hands.
2. Use the correct hand sanitizer
It is best to use hand sanitizers that are produced with one or more of the following alcohols: Ethanol, n-propanol, or isopropyl alcohol. These three alcohols are not harmful to the gloves or sleeves at room temperature. Hand sanitizers should include alcohol levels above 60% and should not have fragrances or scrubbing beads. Wiping gloves at room temperature with one of the three alcohols is fine as well.
3. Clean your insulating rubber gloves and sleeves
It is important to maintain the electrical integrity of gloves and sleeves when cleaning. LTL recommends following the ASTM guidelines, In-Service Care of Insulating Gloves and Sleeves, and Visual Inspection of Electrical Protective Rubber Products (ASTM F496 and F1236).
Wash your gloves and sleeves with mild soap or mild detergent and water as outlined in the ASTM F496 standard. Mild household type chloride bleach may be used for disinfectant purposes. Soaps, detergents, and bleaches shall not be used at strengths that would attack or harm the rubber surface.
There are non-petroleum-based natural rubber and hand cleaners that are designed to be safe on your insulating rubber gloves and sleeves. Using petroleum-based cleaners can damage rubber gloves and sleeves and compromise their insulating properties.
Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Cleaning Your Arc Flash PPE
- Can the porous fabric in an Arc Flash Suit be disinfected?
ANSWER: The answer is yes and no. The fabric portion of a suit can be cleaned by laundering per the manufacturer’s washing instructions. This process will help to remove dirt, debris and some pathogens. Once laundered, additional pathogens may be eliminated by spraying Lysol disinfectant on the inside of the hood and suit. While this will not kill 100% of all bacteria and viruses, it is the best defense that is currently available to the worker. When spraying the inside of the suit and hood, be careful not to get any spray on the outside of the suit. It is also important to let the suit dry completely before putting it back into service.
- What is the most effective method for cleaning an Arc Flash Face Shield?
ANSWER: To clean the inside of a shield or hood window, use a damp soft cloth. If the shield has dirt or grit, flush it off with room temperature tap water. If in a hood, remove the window from the hood and rinse off. Once clean, the shield can be disinfected by applying a soft cloth with Isopropyl Alcohol or a Lysol wipe. Once dry, use a soft clean cloth and lightly wipe off any streaks or film left on the shield from impurities in the wipes.
For any plastic parts without coatings, gently wash with a 10% solution of Clorox bleach and allow it to evaporate until dry.
LTL does not recommend the sharing of insulating rubber gloves, sleeves or Arc Flash PPE due to the potential transfer of germs and viruses and the lack of concrete evidence regarding how long the COVID-19 virus can remain on porous or non-porous surfaces. The most effective way to prevent the spread of infectious disease is to individually assign PPE to each worker.
Please contact your local LTL Sales Representative for additional information or any questions or concerns you may have. You can continue to count on LTL. Stay safe.
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