Knights of the Modern Electrical Industry

Knights of the Modern Electrical Industry

When a line worker gets ready to work on energized lines, they must don their battle armor to protect them from the electrons they plan to wrangle. Just as knights in medieval times geared up for battle, a line worker must suit up as well to face electrical hazards.

Gloves and Proper Sizing

Part of this “armor” for line workers is rubber insulating gloves. Rubber insulating gloves are used for personal protection from shock; therefore, they are manufactured with a specific margin of safety between the max voltage on which they are used and the proof-test at which they are tested. This safety margin is described further in the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F-496 Standard, Specification for In-Service Care of Insulating Gloves and Sleeves (Table 1).

It is important for the gloves to fit correctly so they can provide the most optimal protection. To determine glove size, wearers should measure the circumference around the palm, just below the base of the fingers. Depending on comfort and dexterity, they can add or subtract an inch.

As a layer of protection for the rubber insulating gloves, glove protectors should be worn over the glove to help prevent mechanical damage. ASTM F-496 requires the top of the cuff of the protector to be shorter than the rolled top of the cuff of the insulating glove by a certain distance (specified in Table 4). For Class II gloves, which are the most common, the distance is two inches (51mm).

ASTM F-496 Table 4: Distance Between Gauntlet and Cuff


Distance (minimum)



0, 00
















Sleeves and Proper Fit

The next piece of protective gear these “knights of lights” wear are rubber insulating sleeves. Rubber insulating sleeves extend coverage of the arm from the cuff of the rubber insulating gloves to the shoulder, helping protect these areas from accidental contact with energized conductors and equipment.

To size sleeves, measure from the shoulder – mid collar bone – to just above the wrist where a watch is worn. Sleeves should be selected to fit the arm comfortably, covering from the top of the shoulder to inside the top of the glove. To minimize the possibility of the sleeve pushing gloves off of the hand, size the sleeve to the shortest length possible while maintaining complete coverage of the shoulder. The overlap of the glove over the wrist area of the sleeve should provide a full range of motion without exposing unprotected arm above the glove cuff.

Rubber insulating sleeves can be worn with sleeve straps or a sleeve harness and fastened together with sleeve buttons. Four buttons are required per pair of sleeves. Two styles of buttons are available: one-piece or two-piece. Wear straps with one in front of the neck and one behind the neck; the harness simply slips over the head. Straps and harnesses can be fastened inside or outside of the sleeves.

Helmets and Face Shields

Knights had helmets, and so do line workers (though the material has changed over the centuries). Line workers wear a hard hat to help protect themselves from falling objects, collision impact, debris and shock, among other hazards that can cause injury.

In some locations there is the possibility of an arc flash, which can be very deadly. In these situations, along with a hard hat, they can wear a face shield. The arc flash face shield is there to help protect line workers from molten metal and arcing energy that comes from the arc flash.

Learn More

With all of this gear, line workers look like modern-day knights. Honeywell Salisbury has been protecting these valiant workers on the job for more than a century with premium-quality electrical safety tools and clothing that enable them to safely maintain our modern electrical systems. To learn more about how we help enhance electrical safety, visit our website today.

This article is part of a series. To learn more about arc flash, rubber gloves, sleeves and the importance of properly-fitted PPE, read more from Russ.

About the Author: Russ Owen, CUSP, served in the U.S. Military for 21 years, 13 of which were spent in the U.S. Army doing power generation and distribution, and 6 years in power distribution safety. Now he is a senior technical lead at Honeywell Salisbury and serves on ASTM International committees (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials). His experience as a lineman gives him first-hand insight into how to make our products both high-quality and user-friendly. 


  • www.astm.org
  • https://docplayer.net/21457705-Astm-f-18-osha-sec-1926-97-electrical-protective-equipment-partners-in-safety-huel-gunter-senior-product-specialist.html