ASTM F18 Committee Report

James R. White, Shermco IndustriesSpecifications & Standards, Spring 2019 Specifications & Standards

The ASTM Committee has purview over all protective electrical equipment, including arc flash suits, arc-rated clothing, rubber insulated gloves, insulated tools, and grounds. They do not specify how they are to be used, but specify how they are to be designed, tested, cleaned, and cared for. The meeting was held in Orlando, Florida, on October 8–9, 2018, which sounds nice, but not when Hurricane Michael is bearing down on you. The meeting was called after two days due to members trying to reserve seats on available planes, which became increasingly difficult. In spite of the shortened time, some interesting items did come up.


ASTM WG1506 is trying to update the F1506 standard, but hit the wall and made little or no progress, even though Chair Marcia Eblens held conference calls every two weeks or so. At this time, F1506 will not change for at least six months.


  • F18.15.07 Personal Climbing Equipment had three negatives. The author agreed to withdraw the negatives if they would be addressed after the changes were made to the standard.
  • F18.15.10 Non-Leather Protectors appears to have finally been accepted. Negatives on this new standard were almost all editorial. Congratulations to Hugh Hoagland for getting this through.
  • F18.15.11 Dielectric Footwear did not make it for a vote, as there was concern it was being confused with another standard. F117 covers dielectric footwear that covers the shoe, while F116 covers dielectric footwear that only covers the sock. There was some discussion about combining the two.


In the F855 meeting, removing columns H and I from Table 7 was discussed, but there was no vote. It seems these two categories of cable are not used for ground cables, but for power cables. Removing the word “minimum” from the specification stating ground cables should be 10 feet long was also discussed, and more discussion will be needed; the longer the cable, of course, the higher its impedance. It was also noted that the worst case for clamping ground cable is onto flat bus, as the magnetic fields can cause it to turn and blow off.

The subject of mixing cables, ferrules, and clamps from different companies came up again. No manufacturer will warrant an assembly that is constructed from different manufacturers’ components. Mixing components from different manufacturers may give a rating different than that from a single manufacturer. A new specification is being considered for a pre-assembled clamp, cable, and ferrule assembly that can be configured different ways.

At the end of the F855 meeting, Georgia Tech’s NEETRAC engineers, who do some research for member companies, presented the results of their study to test personal protective grounds to see what effect running grounds in parallel would have, how much they should be de-rated, and the best way to space them. Their research showed that the larger the spacing, the more likely a failure. Twelve inches is probably too much. At 3.5 inches, there were zero failures at 80kA. Their tests also indicated that the 10 percent de-rating recommended by ASTM and others may be far too low. In their tests, the de-rating was at least 32 percent at 2/0 and 43 percent at 4/0. Most people are not de-rating their cables when placing them in parallel, but they certainly need to take this into consideration.

Even though the committee meeting was cut short, there was a lot of good information that NETA member companies should be able to put to use immediately.

James (Jim) R. White, CESCP, Vice President of Training Services, has worked for Shermco Industries since 2001. He is a NFPA Certified Electrical Safety Compliance Professional and a NETA Level 4 Senior Technician. Jim is NETA’s principal member on NFPA Technical Committee NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace; NETA’s principal representative on National Electrical Code® Code-Making Panel (CMP) 13; and represents NETA on ASTM International Technical Committee F18, Electrical Protective Equipment for Workers. Jim is Shermco Industries’ principal member on NFPA Technical Committee for NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance and represents AWEA on the ANSI/ISEA Standard 203, Secondary Single-Use Flame Resistant Protective Clothing for Use Over Primary Flame Resistant Protective Clothing. An IEEE Senior Member, Jim was Chairman of the IEEE Electrical Safety Workshop in 2008 and is currently Vice Chair for the IEEE IAS/PCIC Safety Subcommittee.