35,000 Degrees Fahrenheit. That is the amount of heat an arc flash emits. Not to mention all of the molten metal, shock waves, deafening sounds, shrapnel, blinding light, and hot toxic air that comes with it. It’s no wonder that 1-2 deaths occur a day as a result of an arc flash. Crazy, right?
But you know what’s also crazy? Arc flash injuries can be prevented. However, you need to know the current state of your equipment to take the right precautions.
The best way to determine your facility’s arc flash risk potential is to have a trained electrician conduct an Arc Flash Hazard Assessment. Understanding the current state of your electrical system and your risk level is the first step in safeguarding your team. We have a full staff of trained electricians and electrical engineers who perform these arc flash risk assessments day in and day out, and we’re constantly working with facility managers to identify the overall health of their systems.
Not only will conducting an arc flash hazard analysis minimize risk to your people and building, but it will also help you stay OSHA and NFPA 70E compliant. According to the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA 70E defines “requirements for safe work practices to protect personnel by reducing exposure to major electrical hazards. Originally developed at OSHA’s request, NFPA 70E helps companies and employees avoid workplace injuries and fatalities due to shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast, and assists in complying with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K.” Essentially, the NFPA 70E provides us standards so we can ensure a safe work environment with minimal risk of electrical and fire hazards. It also provides us rules that will protect us should a hazard like an arc flash occur.
When facilities do not comply with NFPA 70E standards, they can actually be cited by OSHA. According to Electrical, Health, and Safety Daily Advisor (EHS Daily), some of the most common citations issued by OSHA for failure to comply with the NFPA 70E rules include:
29 CFR 1910.269(l)(6)(iii)—Requires employers to ensure that each employee working at electric power generation, transmission, and distribution facilities who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs does not wear clothing that could increase the extent of injury to such a hazard.
29 CFR 1926.28(a)—The employer must require that employees wear appropriate PPE during construction work.
29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1)—Requires employers to perform a PPE hazard assessment to determine necessary PPE.
29 CFR 1910.333(b)(2)(iv)(B)—A qualified person must use test equipment to test the circuit elements and electrical parts of equipment to which employees will be exposed and must verify that the circuit elements and equipment parts are de-energized.
29 CFR 1910.335(a)(2)—Employees must use insulated tools or handling equipment if the tools or handling equipment might make contact with such conductors or circuit parts.
After completing an arc flash hazard analysis, you will have:
- Determined all arc flash hazards and your NFPA 70E compliance status
- Calculated incident energy
- Determined the arc flash boundary
- Identified your required personal protective equipment
- Received proper labels for all electrical equipment
- Received an outline of all appropriate safety-related work practices
- Received a complete one-line diagram of your facility’s electrical system
Take initiative in 2019 to safeguard your people from arc flash hazards by scheduling an arc flash study.