Safety awareness in the tree industry is increasing. Governments are step by step reinforcing PPE regulations and workshops are being organized all around the world. Yet, not all crew are wearing chainsaw protection adapted to their needs.
But sometimes, we just don’t know what we truly need. With an increasing number of e-commerce websites, the choice is larger than ever and it is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information available.
In addition, the knowledge about arc-flash accidents and their impacts on people’s lives aren’t well documented, and there is a high chance that you don’t know how it is vital for you to wear this specific gear.
So how can you be protected from a danger you don’t know? How can you choose fully fire-resistant chainsaw gear that will truly protect you? How can you make sure you are safe when you are doing your job?
Here is an introduction to the risk of arc-flash, arc-blast and fire that you can encounter on the job. And what you need to do and the choices you need to make to be protected.
#1 Luck won’t save you in case of an arc-flash
Arc flash is a powerful and relatively unknown event during which an electric arc produces light and heat of an intense energy during a short duration, with temperatures reaching 1000’s of C⁰. It often occurs at the same time as an arc blast, creating an explosive expansion of gases which causes extremely high pressures that can throw people to the ground, collapse lungs and rupture eardrums. Both arc flash and blast combine to create life-threatening situations.
While an arc blast can sound far more dangerous than an arc flash, the second one is the one you should be the most afraid of. The majority of the hospital admissions from electrical accidents are from the burns, not from the shock.
An arc flash will happen quickly, in few seconds. You won’t be able to get away, you won’t be able to protect yourself, you won’t be able to avoid the shock. But you can avoid the burn – if you have the right gear.
#2 You can’t predict when a fire or an arc-flash will happen
As for a chainsaw incident, as for every accident that happens in your life, you won’t know when it will occur until it does. You can never be 100% sure that today everything will be all right, even when you do your best to make sure to take every precaution. A small job on a tree or on the ground doesn’t mean that there is less of a chance to get injured.
However, you don’t have to play Russian roulette every time you are at work. If your job involves being near power lines or in an environment where fire can start quickly, then you should always (always) wear protective clothing that is fully fire-resistant.
#3 Regulations exist for a reason
Every country has safety regulations. They are there mostly because of significant preventable incidents causing injury.
The same applies with arc-flash and fire hazard regulations. Arc flash accidents involving chainsaw safety gear have happened resulting in horrendous burn injuries.
Some jurisdictions have introduced regulations requiring that clothing used in an environment where there is a risk of arc flash shall be made of fibres that will not melt or drip. These regulations are designed to prevent or minimize injuries to you.
Even if regulations do not exist in your country, you should consider the risk of burns from arc flash causing your chainsaw protection material to ignite.
#4 Fire-resistant protection needs to be fully fire resistant to be effective
What if you had bought a waterproof phone case, dropped your phone in the lake and when you got it out of the water, your phone is dead? Then you will have a deeper look at the conditions of use, and it says “Phone case only waterproof in rain” or “Phone case fully waterproof with the exception of the piece around the screen”. Technically, on paper, it is waterproof. But in reality, it is not.
Now what if I tell you that it is exactly the same for most of the fire-resistant chainsaw gear available on the market today?
The outer fabric may be fire resistant, but not the chainsaw protection material on the inside. In an arc flash, the high temperature will ignite the inner layers of chainsaw protection, and its flammable components will intensify the fire. The whole garment becomes an inferno with part of the fabric burning deep into your skin. You don’t want that to happen to you. You really don’t want that.
Ask questions at the store you are buying your gear from, or contact the company itself. Request more information about the fabrics present in your trousers and what tests have been done. Ensure that what is sold to you as “fire resistant” is in fact fully fire resistant. It is your right to ask for more information on the gear that is designed to protect you.
#5 Protection and comfort don’t necessarily need to be a choice
Often, we think that the heavier the trouser, the better the protection. Our brain associates a heavy item with “plenty of layers” and “more fabrics between the body and the danger”. It might have been the case historically; however, with today’s advances in technology the chainsaw protection clothing industry is changing. And it certainly applies in the area of arc-resistant and fire-resistant chainsaw protection.
Clogger carried out a lot of research not only on the technical fabrics they have used in the Arcmax, but also on its design. The Gen 2 trouser has been made stronger and more durable, yet lighter than the previous model. With its weight of only 1.2kg, this garment has been designed to reduce your physical effort and to make your movements easier. With Arcmax Gen 2, you get the protection you need, plus you get the comfort.
Check out the Arcmax range
We hope that you find this post as valuable and worthy of your time. If you have any questions about the need to wear fully fire-resistant chainsaw gear or the regulations around arc flash protection please contact: +64 3 218 8899, [email protected] or let a comment below.