Welder wearing protective workwear

This year EN/IEC 61482-1-1 electric arc test method was updated to include a new reporting criterion – ELIM (Energy Limit). How does this new reporting affect protective workwear tested using the previous arc rating?

The previous arc rating used the Arc Thermal Protection Value (ATPV) or the Energy Breakopen Threshold (EBT50):

  • ATPV is the numerical value of incident energy where the heat transfer would give rise to a second degree burn with 50% probability.
  • EBT is the numerical value of incident energy where fabric breakopen occurs with 50% probability.

The issue is the 50% probability with these values – half the time the garment would protect the wearer, half the time it would not. The European Union (EU) has never been happy with this probability, this led to the creation of ELIM, an arc rating based on 100% protection.

What is the ELIM value?

ELIM is defined as the numerical value of incident energy attributed to a product, below which there is no data point with the amount of heat transmitted through the product reaching the Stoll criteria or with the product exhibiting breakopen, in other terms 100% protection. 

What does this mean for buyers of arc flash workwear?

The standard has changed in terms of arc rating reporting, people who have performed an arc flash risk assessment will need to know if this relates to the old reporting method (ATPV/EBT) or the new reporting method (ELIM).

It is important to understand that an ELIM rating will be lower than the previous ATPV/EBT rating. But what is more crucial to understand is how much less it can be, this is very much dependent on fabric composition and type.

People need to be aware that what was once specified to ATPV/EBT will be replaced by ELIM and that the rating they used to work with will reduce, they need to check their risk assessments carefully.

Other notable changes is the pictogram used in garment labelling to identify if the garment has been tested and passed the arc test methods.

At Alsico, all our new FR knitwear has the ELIM rating, along with our FR coveralls, jackets and trousers. The pictogram for these garments are being updated accordingly.

The changes to the Arc Rating score will increase wearer’s safety. The responsibility falls with manufacturers to ensure that their electric arc garments are put through the testing process to qualify for an ELIM rating, Alsico’s technical sales manager Phil Briggs says: “The new method provides assurance that the arc rating now gives 100% protection – therefore providing even more protective assurance to end users. The main issue is that the old method has been so widely used that many people’s risk assessment would have been made using the old method. It requires that end users understand that ELIM will lower their arc rated clothing and they must reevaluate their risk assessments in order to determine whether the new value is still appropriate to protect against an electrical arc flash risk.”