HAZARD: IMPULSE NOISE IN ARC FLASH SITUATION
ORIGIN: Moldex Technical Services Department
DATE: April 20, 2016
REVIEWED/UPDATED: July 2020
Q – What kind of hearing protection is needed for an arc flash situation?
A – In an arc flash situation where the impulse sound resulting from the expansion of the sudden uncontrolled electric current can reach 160 decibels, it is important to have appropriate hearing protection that can adapt to sudden impulse sounds. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires workers to wear earplugs, but it does not specify type or NRR requirements in its NFPA 70E-2015, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, see Table130.7(C)(16).
Q – Does the NFPA certify or approve any particular hearing protection for arc flash situations?
A – No, the NFPA does not give certification, approvals, or standards for hearing protection used in arc flash situations. The only requirement in regards to hearing protection is for workers to use insert-type hearing protectors (earplugs) as defined in Section 130.7(C)(16) of NFPA 70E-2015.
Q – Does an earplug need to have an arc flash rating to comply with NFPA 70E-2015?
A – The NFPA 70E-2015 does not define any rating for earplugs used in an arc flash situation.
Q – Are there any other qualifications that should be taken into consideration when choosing an earplug for an arc flash situation?
A – Hearing protection devices should be selected according to the latest OSHA Codes of Federal Regulations along with other state and local regulations.
Refer to the following:
- OSHA 29CFR 1910.95
- OSHA – Occupational Noise Exposure
- NIOSH – Noise & Hearing Loss Prevention
- Hearing Protection Devices are tested and certified According to ANSI Specs S3.19-1974.
- All Moldex hearing protection products are independently tested by Michael & Assoc., State College, PA.
BattlePlugs®, Moldex patented earplugs, provide protection for sudden impulsive sounds, such as an arc blast. They have a unique filter built into the plug body to instantaneously reduce dangerous, sudden impulse noise such as an arc flash explosion, all the while allowing for easy communication and improved awareness in the cap open position. In closed cap position, they help protect against continuous and impulse noises. Training is required. BattlePlugs® come in three sizes with an open cap of NRR 9dB for Medium and NRR 12dB for Small and Large and an NRR of 24 when the cap is closed.
WARNING: The information contained in this Tech Brief is dated and was accurate to the best of Moldex’s knowledge, on the date above. It is not meant to be comprehensive, nor is it intended to be used in place of the warning/use instructions that accompany Moldex respirators. Outside of the USA, check with all applicable and local government regulations.
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