As arc flash awareness has risen, managers have sought the most effective ways their companies can comply to in-house standards, local regulations, and industry best practices. The cost of PPE has been a topic of interest in the business side of the companies, and many have had to take a hard look at best-performing PPE and the cost of implementation of the PPE, and then decide how they can get the most bang for their buck. Many companies have felt that arc rated daily wear was not the best approach due to the high cost of having workers in the arc rated gear all day, but over time many of those companies have switched to arc rated daily wear for electricians, line technicians and anyone exposed to potential arc flash work conditions on a regular basis. The reason for this change in approach was that the specialty PPE for arc flash such as a flash suit or a coverall was not getting used, due to discomfort of the suit, inconvenient location of the gear, or lack of worker awareness of the need.

As companies have switched to daily wear, another issue has arisen. Twenty years ago, all electrical workers were typically wearing cotton short-sleeved t-shirts in warmer weather and only donned long-sleeved shirts for certain job applications. Arc flash exposure was an afterthought at most companies. Today the wearing of flammable undergarments is still prevalent, but many of the garments are partially or completely made of wicking materials like polyester and polyethylene. This change in common clothing from ignitable, non-melting natural fibers to more blended ignitable and meltable fiber garments has increased the risk of burns for electrical workers wearing them under their arc rated PPE. 

For this reason, more employers are now providing arc rated t-shirts for non-electrical work to be worn underneath PPE.

There are several benefits to providing arc rated t-shirts:

  1. Eliminates the risk of melting fibers in undergarments, putting the company out of compliance of the best practices
  2. Eliminates the risk of ignition of an undergarment in unexpected arc flashes or arc flashes having greater energy than predicted by the arc flash study
  3. Provides additional protection to the worker in the field with little additional PPE requirements (2 layers can double or triple the arc rating of the garment system; see manufacturer data)
  4. Reduces chance of ignition in arc flashes in higher voltages and higher voltage arc flashes, especially in a contact event; these arc flashes are likely to travel UNDER the arc rated garment in what is called a “tracking arc flash” and can more easily ignite the under layer than a common arc flash can.

We now see about 25% of the utility companies in the US and about 10% of the industrial companies using arc rated t-shirts as part of their electrical safety program. With the dual value of prevention of ignition and melting under arc rated gear, and the ease of ensuring compliance, more companies are considering adding arc rated t-shirts to their clothing programs.


Our high-quality flame retardant and arc flash protective garments are distributed and supported internationally through our trusted distributor network. Locate your nearest certified ROOTS distributor with our locator.




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