One of our member’s employees Patrick was injured on 4th October 2012 when he accidentally created a short circuit which propagated into an Arc Flash and suffered burns to 95% of his body, after a clothing fire. He died on 6th January 2013 as a result of complications of burns. He had a wife and a daughter who was born while Patrick was suffering in hospital.
The NECA member was deeply impacted by this incident and looked to NECA to show leadership to help the industry prevent a re-occurrence.
There were some immediate problems that NECA faced:
- The uniforms that electricians wore were either poly synthetic blends which ignite at 100°C or 100% Cotton clothing which ignites at around 900°C. Not enough protection when working with a hazard that is 6,000°C.
- The available PPE in Australia looked a lot like bomb suits or were very hot and heavy.
- The cost of the garments was prohibitive.
NECA set itself the challenge of overcoming these issues.
The first challenge was to find Arc Rated clothing that was suitable for the risk and also comfortable for the worker.
NECA met with a number of manufactures and tried all of the available Arc Rated clothing on the market. These brands included Hard Yakka, Bisley, Westex, HTT and many others. We found HTT and Westex to be the most comfortable, but overall HTT was the best product due to the fact that it was an inherent product, produced the best arc testing results and had life of garment protection.
At the time HTT was a business that was interested in entering the Australian market. They had clothing that was just as comfortable as a cotton uniform without the carcinogens. We took samples of the HTT clothing to the Ausgrid Lab in Lane Cove and Darren Jenkins tested its credentials with a plasma cannon. It stood up to the challenging test.
After seeing the results, NECA decided to give its endorsement to the HTT range of Arc Rated Products.
The next challenge was to bring the price down. To do this, NECA set up a co-operative using NECA’s membership. We were able to reduce the price of a shirt from $180 to $95. The competition in the market place then reacted and prices across the board came down.
Soon after the relationship began, NECA started to receive complaints from some of its members that there were some weaknesses with the product. In particular, the crotch on the trousers was tearing, the knees were wearing out and the buttons were popping off the garments. NECA worked with HTT and the result was the crotch was reinforced, the knees had double fabric and the buttons were double stitched.
The HTT product is a collaboration between NECA and HTT that is the result of industry feedback. More recently, HTT awarded NECA exclusivity to distribute their range of products.
The reason they selected NECA is because we are the thought leader for Safety in the Electro Technology Industry.