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“It Won’t Happen to Me” and Other Myths about Using Flame-Resistant Clothing in the Electrical Industry

  “It Won’t Happen to Me” and Other Myths about Using Flame-Resistant Clothing
  in the Electrical Industry

 Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ: CTAS) outlines the realities of using arc flash
                 protection which meets NFPA 70E requirements

Business Wire

CINCINNATI -- August 6, 2013

According to statistics compiled by Chicago-based research firm Capshell,
Inc., five to 10 U.S. workers are injured or killed daily, due to arc flash
accidents. Arc flashes are electrical explosions well known for expelling
deadly amounts of energy. To help reduce the likelihood and severity of injury
during these incidents, Cintas Corporation highlighted four common
misconceptions about following NFPA 70E requirements. Following National
Safety Month in June, these misunderstandings underscore the importance of
fostering increased awareness around maintaining proper arc flash protection
in the electrical industry.

“On the whole, the industrial work environment has come a long way in
understanding electrical hazards and protecting employees,” said Joe Liberti,
Protective Apparel Regional Director, Cintas. “However, certain myths still
exist about arc flash protection, and it’s critical that these are addressed
in order to maximize employee safety and minimize liability in the workplace.”

Four common misconceptions about NFPA 70E, the Standard for Electrical Safety
in the Workplace® created by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA),
include:

     “NFPA 70E doesn’t apply to me.” A notorious phrase in the electrical
     industry, many electricians believe that because they have never seen or
     experienced an arc flash, it won’t happen to them. While arc flashes are
     relatively rare, their unpredictable nature makes them particularly
     dangerous. According to a study conducted by the Department of Labor’s
     Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2287 U.S. workers died and 32,807 U.S.
     workers sustained lost time injuries due to electrical shock or burn
1.  injuries over a seven year period starting in 1992. Subsequently, when an
     individual is exposed to an arc flash, the results can be life-changing.
     A good example is the Donnie Johnson accident. Johnson was an electrician
     for almost 20 years before he was severely injured in an arc blast in
     2004. At the time of the incident, Johnson was not wearing the proper
     flame-resistant clothing outlined by NFPA 70E. As a result, he has
     focused on educating the industry about the importance of following these
     important safety procedures.

     “NFPA 70E is just product.” Another common misconception among
     organizations is that employees are safe if they have the proper Personal
     Protective Equipment (PPE). While flame-resistant apparel and other PPE
     is important, these items become useless if not used properly. For
2.   example, if employees roll up their sleeves while wearing flame-resistant
     shirts, their safety is compromised. As a result, a big part of NFPA 70E
     consists of training employees in the proper use and care of PPE. A
     Cintas rule of thumb for organizations interested in promoting safety and
     compliance is to view NFPA 70E as 10 percent product and 90 percent
     training.

     “If I buy a flame-resistant shirt or coverall, then I’m compliant.” When
     an arc flash occurs, it fully engulfs a worker—360-degrees. In order to
     reduce the severity of injury, workers need to don a full ensemble of
     flame-resistant apparel, including shirts, pants, gloves, face shields,
     balaclavas (sock hoods), safety glasses and shoes. NFPA 70E requires that
3.   organizations classify the work performed at their facility into one of
     five risk hazard categories (0-4). Based on the amount of energy that
     individuals are exposed to per cm2, the appropriate apparel is selected
     to match the hazard so it won’t break open in the event of a flash. It is
     also important for organizations to routinely maintain and inspect their
     PPE.

     “Every time an NFPA 70E flame-resistant garment is laundered, it becomes
     less flame-resistant.” If flame-resistant apparel is washed properly, it
     does not lose its integrity. However, it’s vital that employees wash
     their garments according to the instructions on their care labels and
4.   those outlined by NFPA 70E. It is also essential that flame-resistant
     apparel is constructed and repaired using flame-resistant thread, which
     is seldom found in retail stores. To limit liabilities, many
     organizations opt to work with industrial launderers who can inspect,
     launder, repair and replace garments if necessary.
     

“Equally important to understanding the electrical hazards in your workplace
is revisiting your PPE program each time the NFPA 70E standard is re-written,”
Liberti added. “This ensures that your employees are being protected to the
best of your organization’s ability and that your program is still compliant.”

For more information about flame-resistant clothing from Cintas, visit
www.cintas.com/protectiveapparel.

About Cintas Corporation:

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cintas Corporation provides highly specialized
services to businesses of all types primarily throughout North America. Cintas
designs, manufactures and implements corporate identity uniform programs, and
provides entrance mats, restroom cleaning and supplies, tile and carpet
cleaning, promotional products, first aid, safety, fire protection products
and services and document management services for more than 1 million
businesses. Cintas is a publicly held company traded over the Nasdaq Global
Select Market under the symbol CTAS and is a component of the Standard &
Poor’s 500 Index.

Contact:

Mulberry Marketing Communications
Nicole DiVito, 312-664-1532
ndivito@mulberrymc.com
 
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