The Importance of Wearing Insulated Gloves with Leather Protectors
Throughout the course of interviewing hundreds of site personnel (particularly qualified electrical workers) as part of our electrical safety audits, we have determined that a serious gap in many electrical safety procedures is the correct application of insulated gloves and leather protectors. In fact, we would estimate that these gloves are worn less than 50% of the time when they are required by NFPA 70E!
When should insulated gloves be worn?
Article 130.7(C)(7)(a) states that “Employees shall wear rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors where there is a danger of hand injury from electric shock due to contact with exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts.”
The Restricted Approach Boundary is defined as “An approach limit at a distance from an exposed energized electrical conductor or circuit part within which there is an increased likelihood of electric shock, due to electrical arc-over combined with inadvertent movement.”
In performing a risk assessment, we can generally assume that any time a worker is using their digital multimeter to perform testing & troubleshooting on an energized circuit, this worker should be using insulated gloves with leather protectors. This is too often not the case!
In Article 120.2(A), the NFPA takes PPE requirements a step further stating that “Electrical conductors and circuit parts shall not be considered to be in an electrically safe work condition until all of the requirements of Article 120 have been met.” The general interpretation of this is that PPE including insulated gloves with leather protectors is required for verification of absence of voltage for LOTO procedures.
How do we improve NFPA 70E compliance with using gloves?
It all starts with electrical safety training and annual field audits. Workers must understand when and how to wear insulated gloves with leather protectors (even though they can be a nuisance). Any shock event can result in a fatality so there is no room for error.