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Arc Flash Analysis

Arc flash incidents hospitalize 5-7 workers and kill one worker on average per day in North America, and result in lost production costs averaging $20K per incident, equipment damage averaging $50K per incident with significantly higher medical costs for injured workers and potential wrongful death litigation costs. Industrial Light and Power can provide you with an Arc Flash protection program, which includes bringing your facility up to OSHA standards in regards to appropriate Arc Flash warning labels as required for all commercial facilities under OSHA and NFPA regulations.

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With Industrial Light and Power, you can be rest assured that you will meet all of the OSHA and NFPA inspection requirements!

Arc Flash Information:

What is an arc?
An arc is the flow of current through the air between phase conductors or phase conductors and neutral or ground. An arcing fault can release tremendous amounts of concentrated radiant energy at the point of the arcing in a small fraction of a second resulting in extremely high temperatures up to 35,000 degrees F, a tremendous pressure blast up to 2100 PSF, and shrapnel hurling at high velocity. (In excess of 700 miles per hour)

What standards regulate arc flash hazards?
There are four main regulations governing arc flash. They include:

  • OSHA Standards 29-CFR, Part 1910. Occupational Safety and Health Standards.
  • OSHA Standards 1910 sub part S (electrical) Standard number 1910.333 specifically addresses Standards for Work Practices and references NFPA 70E.
  • The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 70 – 2002 The National Electrical Code (NEC) contains requirements for warning labels.
  • NFPA 70E 2004 provides guidance on implementing appropriate work practices that are required to safeguard workers from injury while working on or near exposed electrical conductors or circuit parts that could become energized.

Who enforces these new standards?
OSHA is an enforcer of safety practices in the workplace.

OSHA 1910.132(d), and 1926.28(a) states that the employer is responsible to assess the hazards in the work place, select, have, and use the correct PPE, and document the assessment. Though OSHA does not, per se, enforce the NFPA 70E standard 2004 Edition, OSHA considers the NFPA standard a recognized industry practice and the administrations field inspectors carry with them a copy of the NFPA 70E and use it to enforce safety procedures related to arc flash. Citations and fines are usually issued based on the employers failure to meet the general duty clause of OSHA 1910. Fines can be as high as $500,000.00 per incident.

The employer is required to conduct hazard assessment in accordance with 29CFR1910.132(d)(1). Employers who conduct the hazard/risk assessment, and select and require their employees to use PPE, as stated in the NFPA 70E standard 2004 Edition, are deemed in compliance with the Hazard Assessment and Equipment Selection OSHA Standard. Electrical inspectors across the country are now enforcing the new labeling requirements set forth in the 2008 National Electric Code (NEC).

NFPA 70E and the National Electrical Code requires that the label be placed on:

  • Meter Sockets
  • Switch or Breaker Panels
  • Fuse Panels
  • Motor Control Centers
  • MCC Buckets
  • Hard Wired Disconnects
  • Machine Control Disconnect
  • Or any electrical panel likely to be serviced by a worker while energized

What data is required to be on the new arc flash warning labels?
NEC 110.16 requires the label states the existence of an arc flash hazard and the corrective action to take. The label must meet ANSI Z525 sign standard. The label should include more information on the specific parameters of the hazard including:

  • The risk hazard category
  • Flash Protection Boundary
  • Incident energy at 18 inches expressed in cal/cm2
  • PPE required
  • Voltage shock hazard
  • Limited shock approach boundary
  • Restricted shock approach boundary
  • Prohibited shock approach boundary

The Industrial Light and Power Arc Flash Warning label includes:

  • Risk Hazard Category
  • Incident Energy (calories)
  • Flash Boundary
  • Required PPE
  • Equipment ID
  • Panel Voltage
  • Limited Approach Boundary
  • Restricted Approach Boundary
  • Prohibited Approach Boundary
  • Glove Rating Requirements
  • Glove Voltage Requirements

ARC FLASH WARNING LABEL REQUIREMENTS:
The Federal Government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all “non-dwelling” facilities have an Arc Flash Hazard Analysis performed to determine:

  • The Arc Flash Boundry
  • The level of PPE required
  • The presence of a flash hazard

NFPA 70E 130. states:

“A flash analysis SHALL be done in order to protect personnel from the possibility of being injured by an arc flash. The analysis shall determine the FLASH PROTECTION BOUNDRY and the PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT that persons within the Flash Protection Boundary shall use.”

NFPA 70E 400.11 states:

“Switch boards, panel boards, industrial control panels and motor control centers that are in other than dwelling occupancies and are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized shall be field marked to warn qualified persons of potential arc flash hazards.
The marking shall be so located so as to be clearly visible to qualified persons before examination, adjustment, servicing or maintenance of the equipment.”

NFPA 130.7 (E) states:

“Safety signs that meet the ANSI Z535 standard shall be used to warn employees about electrical hazards that might endanger them.” Refer to: OSHA 29CFR Part 1910.302-308 & 1910.331-335, as well as NFPA NFPA 70E. OSHA has given companies over four years to comply with the CFR 29.1910 Arc Flash regulations, and now with the recognition of the NFPA 70E part II, Arc Flash compliance is required by law.

These rules clearly state that an Arc Flash assessment MUST be done to determine the hazards at your facility, and Industrial Light and Power can get you into compliance with Federal Law!!

NFPA 70E Arc Flash Code
NFPA 70E, titled “Electrical Safety in the Workplace,” is the heart of U.S. arc flash regulations. It outlines the specific practices and standards to be followed in protecting a workplace from arc flash and other electrical hazards. We strongly recommend that companies that are likely to perform electrical work own a copy of NFPA 70E, which can be purchased from the NFPA Web site.

Creating an Electrically Safe Work Condition:
The primary focus of NFPA 70E is the establishment of an electrically safe work condition, meaning that equipment is fully de-energized and cannot be re-energized while work is being performed. The following steps should be followed to create an electrically safe work condition:

  • Determine all possible sources of electrical energy to the equipment.
  • Interrupt load current and open disconnecting devices for all sources.
  • Where possible, visually confirm that disconnecting devices are open.
  • Follow appropriate lockout/tag-out procedures.
  • Verify that equipment is de-energized using a voltmeter. Until equipment is tested, assume that it is still energized.
  • Use grounding devices where the possibility of stored energy or induction exists.

Creating an electrically safe work condition is the first line of defense against arc flash and other electrical hazards. This procedure should be used in every situation, with the following exceptions:

  • When de-energizing equipment would create a greater hazard, such as when life-support equipment, ventilation equipment in a hazardous environment, or similar safety equipment would be de-energized;
  • When de-energizing is not possible due to equipment design, such as when the equipment is part of a larger continuously-operating system;
  • When the nature of the work to be performed requires that equipment be energized–for instance, when checking voltage.

Guidelines for OSHA compliance:
It is not always possible to de-energize equipment before beginning work. In order to minimize the risk of live electrical work, NFPA 70E lays out six steps that employers should take to be in compliance with OSHA regulations:

  1. Create a facility safety program with defined responsibilities
  2. Calculate arc flash hazards for relevant equipment
  3. Provide appropriate PPE for live work
  4. Train workers on arc flash hazards and safe work practices
  5. Provide appropriate tools for working with energized equipment
  6. Place warning labels on equipment that poses an arc flash risk

Arc Flash Safety Program:
NFPA 70E requires companies to create a written program outlining all aspects of the company’s electrical safety policy, including work permits, lockout/tagout procedures, assessment of electrical hazards, maintenance procedures, and personnel responsible for electrical safety. Up-to-date and accurate information on a company’s electrical systems, including one-line diagrams and equipment specifications, should be included in the document. The goal of the program should be to establish a culture of safety awareness that includes all employees.

A number of firms offer assistance in designing arc flash safety programs. Some of these firms can be found on our Other Resources page.

Arc Flash Warning Labels:
The 2009 edition of NFPA 70E includes a new section, 130.3(C), which requires “Equipment shall be field-marked with a label containing the available incident energy or required level of PPE.” The types of equipment to be labeled, and the placement of the labels, is covered by NEC 110.16.

Another change in NFPA 70E 2009, that may effect labeling is in section 130.3. It states that “arc flash hazard analysis shall be updated when a major modification or renovation takes place. It shall be reviewed periodically, not to exceed five years…” Because of the requirement to review arc flash analysis every five years, some consultants are recommending that arc flash labels include the date the analysis was done.

Calculating Arc Flash Hazards:
An arc flash hazard analysis is an in-depth study of a company’s electrical systems in order to identify equipment that could cause an arc flash, as well as the degree of hazard involved. Performing study requires the work of a competent electrical engineer who is familiar with the electrical system and the methods of analysis. For many companies, the hazard analysis is the most expensive and time consuming requirement of NFPA 70E, but it is also perhaps the most critical.

Personal Protective Equipment:
PPE includes flame-resistant clothing, gloves, and face shields. Appropriate PPE must be worn whenever live electrical work must be performed. NFPA 70E describes six risk/hazard categories for which varying degrees of PPE are appropriate.

Arc Flash Training:
NFPA 70E draws a distinction between “qualified persons” and “non-qualified persons.” A qualified person is “one who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and systems, and has received safety training on the hazards involved.” Qualified workers must be trained on the hazards of the specific equipment they work with, as well as receiving more general safety training.It is also a good idea to train non-qualified persons on the general hazards of arc flash. This allows them to identify and avoid hazardous situations.