Head Protection

Frequently Asked Questions

Head Protection

I have an older Oberon 40 cal arc flash suit with a green shield. Can I replace the shield with the new TCG faceshield?

It is not possible to replace an older style, green arc flash face shield with the a new True Color Grey (TCG™) face shield due to the hole pattern configuration.  Each Oberon face shield has a unique hole configuration which allows it to be affixed to an Oberon hood. Due to this fact a new hood must be purchased if your green shield gets damaged.

Should the balaclava be worn “tactical style” covering the mouth and nose?

The NFPA 70E committee considered requiring balaclavas be defined as “covering the mouth and nose”, but the committee rejected this for several reasons.

  1. To date they are not aware of any incidents of a burned mouth or nose that has occurred when a worker was wearing a balaclava, and the energy was in the range of <12 cal/cm².
  2. Many tests have been done with balaclavas and face shields, and this testing showed that covering the chin area substantially raised the level of protection without covering the mouth sensor.
  3. Heat stress could become more of a concern.
  4. Wearing the balaclava over the nose could cause the safety glasses of the worker to fog up in certain situations.

Since the NFPA 70E committee didn’t believe that the balaclava definition should be changed, Oberon recommends wearing safety glasses, an arc rated shield, and a balaclava with the chin covered in arc flashes up to 12 cal/cm² as recommend by NFPA 70E Annex H.3. There is no guidance in OSHA 1910.269.

Category: Head Protection

Should I tuck the balaclava into the shirt or flash suit to meet OSHA 1910.260 or NFPA 70E?

Although no standard specifically covers it, Oberon recommends tucking the balaclava in to prevent a possible arc from coming up underneath the flap of the balaclava.

Category: Head Protection

How do I clean and disinfect my Oberon face shield?

To clean and disinfect an Oberon face shield it is best to use a damp, soft cloth and gently wipe away any dirt or grit.  Once this is done gently flush them off with room temperature tap water.

To disinfect a FaceFit™ shield clean first and then dampen a soft cloth with isopropyl alcohol or use a Lysol® wipe. This process may leave streaks as the surface dries. Once dry, use a soft clean cloth and lightly wipe off any streaks or film left on the shield from impurities in the wipes.

As an alternative method a 2% solution of Clorox bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite or NaOCL) and cool water can be used.   Apply the solution by gently spraying the face shield and then allowing it to evaporate.  Once dry the shield can be rinsed off with cool tap water.

How do I clean and disinfect safety googles and spectacles?

To clean and disinfect Oberon safety goggles and spectacles it is best to use a damp, soft cloth and gently wipe away any dirt or grit.  Once this is done gently flush them off with room temperature tap water.

Once the safety goggles or spectacles are cleaned it is also important to disinfect them. Take a soft cloth that has been dampened with isopropyl alcohol or use a Lysol® wipe and gently clean the inside and out of the goggles.  It is also important to wipe the elastic strap on the goggles. This process may leave streaks on the surface of the goggles or spectacles as they dry. Once dry, use a soft clean cloth and lightly wipe off any streaks or film left on the shield from impurities in the wipes.

How do I clean the inside of my arc flash hood?

The first step to cleaning and disinfecting an Oberon TCG™ hood is to disassemble your hood.  Once done, if the shield has dirt or grit, flush it off with room temperature tap water.

The next step to disinfecting a TCG™ hood window is to take a soft cloth with isopropyl alcohol or use a Lysol® wipe and gently clean both sides of the shield. This process may leave streaks as the surface dries. Once dry, use a soft clean cloth and lightly wipe off any streaks or film left on the shield from impurities in the wipes.

As an alternative method a 2% solution of Clorox® Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite or NaOCL) and cool water can be used.   Apply the solution by gently spraying the face shield and then allowing it to evaporate.  Once dry, the shield can be rinsed off with cool tap water.

To clean and disinfect the fabric portion of a hood first remove the shield and launder the hood per the washing instructions on the hood label.  The steps above will help to remove most of the dirt, germs, and possible viruses that could be on the hood after use.

Does the Oberon TCG™ Series shield block Infrared light?

When you are involved in an arc flash two things occur simultaneously and help prevent damage to your eyes.

  1. You blink.  This happens very quickly.  A good example of this at work would be when you accidentally look at the sun.  Your first reaction is to immediately close your eyes. The blinding flash of an arc lasts as long as the arc flash is present. This would be about one third of a second for a 12 calorie arc flash and up to 2 seconds for a 100 calories/cm2 arc flash.  The human eye response is about 1/10th of a second to blink.  Therefore in about 1/10th of a second in all arc flashes the eye blinks to reduce the visible light reaching the eye.  While we do not want to overexpose the eye to this visible light there is a natural response and self-limiting mechanism.
  2. A second protective mechanism occurs in our TCG™ Shields when they are hit with an arc.  There are additives in the shields that will carbonize in about 1/10th of a second.  This carbonization will reduce all of the electromagnetic spectrum and most of the arc flash visible light. Essentially the front surface looks a lot like asphalt moss once it is hit with an arc flash.  Please see the attached picture for reference. The combination of these two things prevents any significant damage to the eyes from occurring.

Does Oberon plan to offer a lift front hood option to their 40 cal ensembles?

No, Oberon does not offer a lift front option. Oberon believes that these types of hoods are extremely dangerous due to the increased likelihood of the user opening the hood within the arc flash boundary. Since Oberon invented the first ever arc flash suit hood in 1987, we have promoted the safest possible product solutions for worker safety. The bee-keeper traditional style hood provides more protection than a lift front style by fully protecting the workers face and head.  It is critical to not expose any part of the body (especially the face) inside of the arc flash boundary. Oberon believes that the combination of our TCG clear lens technology with exceptional clarity and our Hood Ventilation System (HVS) as a total protective system prevent any need for the worker to compromise their safety by lifting the front of their hood.

What are the limitations of an arc flash rated suit?

A common misperception is that a person wearing an arc rated suit is “bullet proof” from the hazards associated with electricity. There are 3 main potential hazards when working with electricity: Electric Shock, Arc Flash and Arc Blast. An arc flash suit can protect you from an arc flash provided that the incident energy level that the suit is exposed to is equal to or less than what the suit is rated for.  All arc tested suits will come labeled with an estimated APTV level measured in calories/cm2.  Oberon recommends having a risk assessment done before working on any electrical equipment to help identify the possible risks associated with the work task to be performed.  Once this analysis is done the appropriate APTV level needed can be determined and the proper PPE selected.

This leaves two other potential electrical hazards that could potentially harm you.  The arc blast is high pressure sound wave that is caused by a sudden arc fault.  It can cause molten metal droplets to be propelled at high speeds as well as sudden expansion of air pressure that can blast out.  An arc flash suit offers some protection from these types hazards, but only in a limited capacity.  For instance, if a blast pressure wave were to be strong enough to propel a worker across a room an arc flash suit would not be able to protect the worker from the force of the wave.

The last type of electrical hazard that a worker can be exposed to is electrical shock.  Shocks are caused when contact is made by a worker with an electrical energy source.  Arc flash suits are not tested or designed to protect workers from this type of hazard.  Typically workers will wear rubber electrical gloves with leather protectors when there is a risk of electrical shock while performing their work task.

What is the shelf life of an arc flash suit?

This is a challenging topic to consider as many variables must be considered when determining when an arc flash suit needs to be replaced.  Things like the age of a suit, frequency of use, laundering care, and the environment your suit is stored in can all play roles in how long it will last.  Oberon recommends  a pre and post inspection after every use of your arc flash suit.  The diagram below lists out some common things to look for when doing your evaluation.

 

 

In the end, the final determination on when to replace your suit should be a part of your established electrical safety program.  Please contact your local Oberon Company representative if further assistance is needed.

What fabric is the best for arc flash clothing?

There are three different types of arc-rated flame resistant (FR) fabrics available on the market; Treated non-inherently FR fabrics, Inherently FR fabrics and Treated Inherently FR fabrics. Treated non-inherently FR fabrics, either 100% cotton, or cotton blends, have no flame resistant properties and require a chemical treatment application to become flame resistant. (FRT) Inherent fabrics are engineered to be flame resistant (IFR), and there is no chemical that needs to be added to them for their protective capabilities. Treated Inherently FR fabrics are when traditional Inherently FR fabrics are treated using a similar process to non-inherently FR fabrics, resulting in a lightweight inherently FR fabric that provides more protection. Regardless of the type of FR fabric, the material must still be arc-rated with either an Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV) or an Energy Break-open Threshold (EBT).

How do the arc-rated clothes actually protect me?

Arc Flash PPE is tested to determine its protective ability, this is called an arc rating. This testing is done on the fabric or a finished product using various different testing methods according to applicable Standards. Arc-rated clothing provides insulation that protects a worker from the thermal incident energy caused by an arc flash incident.

There are various different types of arc ratings. In North America, the most popular product options have an ATPV or EBT rating. An arc rating is reported as either ATPV or EBT, whichever is the lower value. The ELIM is a new way to evaluate the arc thermal resistance properties to select PPE with a lower risk of a worker skin burn injury. All of these values are provided in calories per square centimeter (cal/cm2).

ATPV: Arc Thermal Performance Value, the incident energy level at which there is a 50% probability of sufficient heat transfer to cause the onset of a second-degree skin burn injury.

EBT: Break-open Threshold Energy, the incident energy level at which there is a 50% probability of the formation of holes or tears in the layer closest to the skin.

ELIM: Incident Energy Limit, the highest incident energy data point without breakopen and without reaching the onset of a second-degree skin burn injury

The most common type of arc rating is the Arc Thermal Performance Value, or ATPV. Selecting PPE with an arc rating that matches or exceeds the highest level of potential thermal incident energy exposure from an arc flash incident, is critical in protecting your electrical workers. It is critical to know the incident energy potential of the equipment in your electrical environment to effectively choose the correct Arc-Rated PPE with the appropriate arc-rating.

 

How do I pre-use inspect my arc flash faceshield?

The NFPA 70E Standard requires that all arc flash PPE is pre-use inspected. Refer to Oberon’s resource section of the website for literature resources including User Guides and Storage, Use, Care & Maintenance files. While inspecting your arc flash faceshield if you identify a problem do not use the product until the issue has been repaired, cleaned or replaced. When pre-use inspecting your Oberon arc flash suit you should inspect each item one at a time.

 

The following steps apply when pre-use inspecting your Oberon arc flash faceshield;

  • Check the faceshield visibility, inspect for excessive scratching. If visibility is impaired or the shield is cracked or damaged remove from use (replace with appropriate lens).
  • Manually adjust the shield mounting mechanism (adapters) to ensure wing nuts are firmly in place, do not over tighten or the shield won’t be able to operate correctly.
  • Inspect adapters for cracks or damage, ensure fingers are locked into hard hat slots.
  • Check hard hat slots and inspect for cracks that could allow the adapter to slip out.
  • Ensure the nuts and bolts fastening a lower chin guard (double crown) are tight before use.

How do I pre-use inspect my arc flash suit?

The NFPA 70E Standard requires that all arc flash PPE is pre-use inspected. Refer to Oberon’s resource section of the website for literature resources including User Guides and Storage, Use, Care & Maintenance files. While inspecting your arc flash suit if you identify a problem do not use the product until the issue has been repaired, cleaned or replaced. When pre-use inspecting your Oberon arc flash suit you should inspect each item one at a time.

 

Will the LED headlamp on my faceshield or hood explode?

Oberon promotes the use of LED headlamps on all arc flash faceshields and suit hoods to enhance the workers ability to properly see the work task. Oberon has performed limited testing of the products we support. The arc flash exposures were relevant to the protection provided by the arc flash PPE. During testing none of the LED lamps exploded and we observed no signs of concern regarding melting, dripping or continued ignition/after flame.

Category: Head Protection

How do I activate my Oberon anti-fog coating?

Oberon arc flash faceshields and suit hood shield windows are available with anti-fog coatings. Before each and every use the anti-fog coating must be activated. Workers must use humidity to activate the anti-fog properties by pulling the inside of the faceshield or hood lens towards them and breathe on the surface. It’s important for your shield lens to be at room temperature for best results.

 

When using an Oberon arc flash suit hood, consider using a hood ventilation system that circulates air to your breathing zone. Oberon’s system delivers the external air directly down the inside of the hood shield window to reduce fogging in extreme conditions.

Can we use the new True Color Grey (TCG) shield in our old Oberon arc flash suit hoods?

No, older Oberon hoods that have a green/yellow shield window lens cannot be exchanged for the new clear TCG shield window. When Oberon designed the hoods for the new TCG shield lens, changes were made to the fabric construction and installation method. The new TCG shield lenses have metal snaps that make assembly and disassembly easier for the worker. All older Oberon hoods must be replaced with complete TCG hoods when upgrading to the new technology.

 

The ASTM F2178 Standard requires the hood to be tested as you would use it. This final product testing requirement is critical for the product to perform as needed during an arc flash exposure.

Can we use a different brand hard hat with an Oberon faceshield or suit hood?

Yes, Oberon has different adapters available that can fit other manufacturer’s hard hats. However the selection is limited and you must consult with an Oberon Representative for assistance. The originally supplied Oberon hard hat shall never be switched for another manufacturer’s hard hat without first changing the adapters. Failure to comply will result in broken adapters and increased risk to the worker. Oberon has conducted all of its arc flash testing using Oberon manufactured hard hats. For the best results you should always use an Oberon hard hat.

Category: Head Protection

Will the Hood Ventilation System pull in toxic smoke after an arc flash incident?

This is highly unlikely. Workers need the fresh air provided by an Oberon hood ventilation system to properly function during a work task execution. The risk of heat stress causing disorientation and dizziness is far more severe than the likelihood of the fan unit pulling in toxic fumes from an arc flash. Oberon has tested its hood ventilation system and made no observations of the fan causing any increased harm to the worker. When the fan unit is directly exposed to an arc flash incident the motor was rendered inoperable.

Category: Head Protection

What is the difference between green versus grey arc flash faceshield or hood lenses?

Both Oberon green/yellow and new clear True Color Grey (TCG) lenses provide protection from an arc flash incident. A clear grey lens is safer than the old green technology because the likelihood of a worker making a mistake that could cause an arc flash has been reduced.

 

Oberon’s True Colour Grey is a medium density filter that allows all visible light to pass through it with no distortion. Oberon TCG is a nearly clear lens that provides the same protection as old style green with the difference being workers can finally see the true colours of their work.

Can I use Febreze on my PPE?

The stock answer is “the garments should be free of flammable contaminants”…whether that be oily/flammable dirt or additives from the cleaning process such as fabric softeners. The MSDS for Febreze states that Febreze does contain Ethanol which is flammable (also documented in the MSDS). If you require a blanket statement that it is OK to use Febreze regardless of how or how much is used, then the answer is NO because the MSDS states clearly that there is a flammable component in the solution.

 

Can I use anti-fog wipes on Oberon products?

It is not recommended to use wipes on most of our arc flash face shields and arc flash hood windows as they already have a permanent anti-fog coating on the inner surface. Using wipes will likely damage the coating causing it to stop working. If the coating has been damaged already and does not function, we would then suggest that you experiment with the wipes in a bottom corner of the face shield to insure that it does not have any adverse results. The use of anti-fog wipes (that we are aware of which are primarily alcohol in nature with a small amount of anti-fog surfactant) will not cause the face shield to weaken or crack. The only adverse reaction would be to damage the coating or surface causing it to haze, making visibility difficult. There are Oberon arc flash face shields and safety face shields that do not have the permanent anti-fog coating on the inner surface. The use of anti-fog wipes with a small amount of caution (experimenting as above) should be okay to use with these.

How do I disinfect my Oberon hood?

The interior of the Arc Flash Hood can get soiled from perspiration and/or heavy usage. When more than one worker uses the hood, bacteria and other germs can get transmitted from one worker to another. In these situations, it is highly recommended that the hood be washed periodically according to the washing instructions on the hood’s label. However, between washings, the interior of the hood can be disinfected using anti-bacterial disinfectant spray. Spray the interior of the hood, and then wipe the shield window with a soft cloth. Warning: Do not soak the hood fabric with the spray. After spraying the hood, allow it to dry before using.

Category: Head Protection

Can Arc Flash PPE be shared between workers?

No, due to personal hygiene and the risk of spreading infectious disease. Please see our white paper in the resource section of our website for more details. In summary, hard non-porous surfaces can be effectively disinfected, such as the arc flash hood visor, hard hat and other plastic components. However, we do not believe that fabrics can be safely shared between workers due to the ineffectiveness of disinfectant sprays or wipes on a porous surface. In the new Coronavirus world, we feel the most effective way to keep workers safe and healthy is for all arc flash PPE to be individually assigned.

 

How safe is it to wear hard-wired telecommunication headsets under the arc flash hood?

This question is best answered by addressing several points;

  • Wireless communication is the safest alternative. Wherever possible, one should opt to using wireless headset under their arc flash hood. The communications device would be completely covered by the hood and would not interfere with the performance of the hood. However, working conditions may make it difficult to use wireless communications. Strong electromagnetic field could interfere with communication sine waves; as communications sine waves could hinder the operation of control devices.
  • The telecommunication wire attached to the headset could increase the risk of fire hazard. Within the approach boundary, there could be sufficient heat energy to ignite the rubber insulating the wire. If this happens near the worker, the fire could burn up the wire into the hood.
  • Appropriate hood will protect the headset. It is not clear at the writing of this text whether or not there exist any FR communication headset. Using an FR communication headset would reduce the chance of the headset contributing to a burn injury. However, in the event of an arc flash, if the hood arc rating exceeds the hazardous energy, the part of the headset that is under the hood should not receive enough thermal incident energy to ignite. The energy level under the hood should not exceed 1.2 cal/cm2. This assumes the arc flash risk assessment was done accurately.
  • The headset should not interfere with the proper fit and lay of the hood and clothing The wire attached to the headset should be long enough to avoid it being stretched. If the wire stretches, it may cause the hood to be pulled open, creating a gap that will compromise the performance of the hood.
Category: Head Protection

When should I use arc rated earplugs?

The NFPA 70E Standard requires workers wear hearing protection any time an arc flash incident is likely to occur. This requirement is the same for either arc flash PPE selection method; incident energy analysis or arc flash PPE categories. The Standard states hearing protection required and points to ear canal inserts. Other types of hearing protection are permitted to be used in lieu of or in addition to ear canal inserts provided they are worn under an arc-rated arc flash suit hood.

Oberon conducted Acoustical testing on its products in February of 2004. The results indicate that an arc-rated hood can significantly attenuate the sound hazard, but since the sound level for an arc flash event is so high, the worker using an arc-rated hood still needs to use hearing protection. The arc-rated hood, tested under ASTM 2178, would not allow enough energy to be transmitted through the hood to ignite or melt ear canal inserts or earmuff type hearing protective devices.

Category: Head Protection

Can I wear my hard hat in the reverse position?

Reverse wearing option helmets are intended to pass all testing requirement whether they are worn facing frontward or backwards in accordance with the manufacturer’s wearing instructions. Oberon asks that you reverse the suspension when wearing our hard hats in reverse.

Category: Head Protection

What is the service life of a hard cap?

Though the hard hat can be used for an indefinite amount of time, we suggest a service life of 5 years. Sunlight (UV), chemicals, bumps and temperature extremes can all cut the service life short. OSHA asks that the wearer of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) inspect their equipment regularly. Please check your hard hat for any discoloration, any striated marks that would signify stress, cuts, nicks or fading that should mean replacement of the hard hat. If the hard hat has been subjected to a fall or has been hit, the hard hat should be taken out of service and replaced. Hard Hats should not be stored in direct light (UV damage) for instance in the back window of your car. If the hard hat or suspension has been altered in any way, the hat should be removed from service immediately. No paint, markers or labels shall be affixed to the hard hat as the chemicals could damage the hard hat.

Category: Head Protection

What is the service life of a hard cap’s suspension?

Hard cap suspensions should be wiped down at least weekly. They should be inspected for cuts, tears, discoloration. We suggest a replacement policy of 12 months for the hard hat suspension.

Category: Head Protection

Is there a code that signifies the date of manufacture in the hard hat?

Yes, there is code inside the cap and the suspension noting the date of manufacture and the material type.

Category: Head Protection

Can I wear safety stickers on my hard cap?

Safety Stickers should be kept to a minimum; so as not to block any cracks, discoloration, fading or other damage from view. Inspect the cap both inside and out for damage.

Category: Head Protection

Can I wear a ball cap under my hard cap?

No, a ball cap has too much structure and could compromise the performance of our hard cap. However you can wear arc-rated winter liners, cooling bandanas or a sweatshirt hood under the hard hat.

Category: Head Protection

How do I adjust my hard cap?

Adjust the size from the back of the hat either with the pinlock or the ratchet to what feels comfortable, but secure. Then, looking at the suspension, adjust the height suspension near each lug to position the angle you would like to wear the hard hat.

Category: Head Protection

How I clean my hard cap?

When cleaning your hard cap, please remove the suspension from the hat, wipe down with Warm, soapy water and a soft cloth to dry the hard hat. DO NOT use solvents or harsh chemicals to clean the hats.

Category: Head Protection

What standards does Oberon’s hard cap meet?

Our Hard Hats meet either the ANSI Z89.1 or CSA Z94.1 Standard (Canadian Caps only) along with meeting the Edison Electrical Institute:

  • Class E Tested to 20,000 volts
  • Class G Tested to 2,200 volts
  • Class C No electrical protection

What temperature range is Oberon’s hard cap tested at?

Oberon’s hard caps are tested to the ANSI Z89.1—2009 which tests head protection from 0 degrees F to 120 degrees F.

Category: Head Protection