3m Arcflash

[Webinar Recap] Arc Flash: What to Wear to Stay Protected at Heights


Last week, we had the opportunity to present a webinar called Arc Flash: What to Wear to Stay Protected at Heights, presented by SPI and 3M Fall Protection Experts.

In this webinar, they covered three key topics:

  • An overview of the recent update of fall protection equipment standards
  • The risk of arc flash, testing procedures, and performance requirements
  • Compliant and above all available fall protection equipment to protect workers at heights who work near high-voltage electricity.

In short, this webinar covered the basic elements of protection against arc flashes when working at heights. And to give you an overview, here are a few key points to remember.

Brief recap of standards updates

A) CSA Z259.10-18 Full body harnesses

  • New harness class “Class R”, Arc-resistant
  • First and only CSA Z259 fall protection standard to actually reference ASTM F887-16, Standard Specifications for Personal Climbing Equipment
  • WPS (work-positioning system) not intended for use as a fall arrest system

B) CSA Z259.11-17 Personal energy absorbers and lanyards

  • New worker mass ranges
  • Class A (rope) and Class B (web): lanyards that do not have an integral energy absorber shall have a warning on the label
  • Class C (wire rope): lanyard shall have an integral energy absorber
  • Class Y (double-leg): lanyard shall contain at least one energy absorber

Energy Absorber Type

1st Mass Range

2nd Mass Range

Shock Pack

121 to 310 lbs.  

(55 to 140 kg)

176 to 420 lbs.

(80 to 190 kg)

Tubular Web

132 to 253 lbs.

(60 to115 kg)

176 to 385 lbs.

(80 to 175 kg)

C) CSA Z259.2.2-17 Self-retracting devices

  • 4 new SRD classes – Class SRL, SRL-LE, SRL-R & SRL-LE-R
  • Requirement to utilize SRL-LE when anchoring below dorsal D-ring
  • New revalidation requirements (below) by a competent person

Type of use

Application examples

Example conditions of use

Inspection frequency

Product revalidation frequency

Infrequent to light

Rescue and confined space, factory maintenance

Good storage conditions, indoor or infrequent outdoor use, room temperature, clean environments


At least every 5 years

Moderate to heavy

Transportation, residential construction, utilities, warehouse

Fair storage conditions, indoor and extended outdoor use, all temperatures, clean or dusty environments

Semi-annually to annually

At least every 2 years

Severe to continuous

Commercial construction, oil and gas, mining, foundry

Harsh storage conditions, prolonged or continuous outdoor use, all temperatures, dirty environment

Quarterly to semi-annually

At least annually

Arc Flash- overview

Arc flash occurs when a dangerous release of light and heat is generated on its own by an electrical fault or when an electrical current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another or ground.

Dust, tools in contact with power sources, and defective equipment can cause an arc flash.

The results are often violent. Temperatures at arc points can range from 20,000° to 35,000° F (3-4 times the sun’s surface temperature!)

  • The light intensity can blind people and can be given off as gamma rays, x-rays, and infrared
  • Shock waves produce thousands of pounds of pressure. This will knock people off of their feet, off of ladders, or out of bucket trucks. Fall protection is needed where an arc flash hazard is present while working at height.
  • The sound produced from the blast is like a gunshot going off next to your ear.
  • Injuries are mostly from heat (burns), light, shrapnel, and sound waves.

ASTM F887 – ‘arc flash standard’

ASTM F887, the Standard Specifications for Personal Climbing Equipment requires equipment testing and passing.

Test Procedures (Harnesses and Lanyards):

  • Certification must be performed by a third party
  • Equipment must be exposed and tested front and back
  • Equipment must be exposed to 40 cal/cm²
  • The equipment must also perform a drop test that meets the ANSI standard.

Passing requirements:

  • Must self-extinguish in 5 seconds or less
  • No melting or dripping of materials
  • No electric arc ignition
  • Successful drop test by ANSI/CSA standard

Fall protection equipment against electric arcs

Arc Flash rated (AF) products are designed to withstand high heat and energy.

They are tested per accordance with the applicable standard to ensure that they remain intact when faced with high heat so that they do not melt, burn, or conduct energy.

AF fall protection products are tested in the same manner as their regular counterparts: after an arc test at a third-party laboratory, the equipment is then sent for dynamic performance testing per ANSI Z359.14.

These tests not only evaluate the equipment's brake/locking mechanism, but also the integrity of the lifeline that has been exposed to an arc flash of 40 cal/cm2.


  • Working on a power distribution or transmission pole (linemen)
  • Truck work with aerial bucket trucks and lifting platform
  • Ascent of a high-voltage transmission tower
  • Transport stations and substations (works on transformation)
  • Factory and installation work (equipment)


Want to know if your fall protection equipment is arc rated? Look for the arc flash symbol.

3M™ DBI-SALA® ExoFit™ NEX harnesses are equipment created to address the electrical hazards workers face at height.

With the integration of state-of-the-art materials and technology, they’re the most advanced harnesses in the industry, following years of experience and ongoing research.

If you’re looking for gear that’s proven and built for the task, look no further. The ExoFit™ NEX Arc Flash Full-Body Harness offers flame resistance and non-conductive construction in addition to all the comfort, function, and durability features of the original ExoFit™ NEX Full-Body Harness.

Find your compliant and available equipment