Electronics Protection - Fall 2015 - (Page 6)
Beat the Heat: Six Best Practices for Protecting Your People and
Your Business from Arc Flash Hazards
Wally Vahlstrom, Director Technical Service
Emerson Network Power, Electrical Reliability Services
If your business relies on energized electrical equipment, then
the potential for arc flash to occur always exists. In fact, arc flash
happens more often than you might imagine. The Institute for
Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) reports that 2,000 workers are admitted to burn centers each year for extended injury
treatment caused by arc flash, and it
has been said that arc-flash incidents
claim one life every workday.
Arc flash happens when insulation
or isolation between electrified conductors is not sufficient to withstand
the applied voltage; the air dielectric
breaks down (ionizes); and the resulting fault current passes through the
ionized air creating an arc flash. The
flash can produce an explosion-type
blast with temperatures up to four
times hotter than the surface of the
sun, and it can be powerful enough to
fatally burn someone standing more
than 10 feet away from the source. Arc
flash can also seriously damage equipment, facilities and your bottom line.
While arc flash has devastating
consequences, the good news is that
facilities can take highly effective
steps to protect their employees and
operations. Perhaps the best way to accomplish this level of protection is by
staying current with the latest requirements from organizations such as the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire
Protection Association (NFPA).
OSHA recently published its first-ever arc flash protection
requirements for the electric power generation, transmission and
distribution industry, making significant changes to electrical safety
requirements in high-voltage environments. In addition, the most
recent version of NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the
Workplace includes changes to safety, maintenance and training
requirements designed to better protect people and businesses.
Below you'll find best practices based on these standards.
Follow the recommendations, and you'll be well on your way to
creating the electrically-safe and regulatory-compliant workplace
your business and employees deserve.
1. Use Engineering Analysis to Determine the Severity
Of Arc Flash Hazards
OSHA has always made employers responsible for identifying
hazards and risks employees face on the job including arc flash
risks. In addition, NFPA 70E 2015 specifically requires facility owners to perform an arc flash risk assessment prior to allowing workers to perform tasks on or near energized equipment.
While the arc Flash personal protective equipment (PPE)
Fall 2015 * www.ElectronicsProtectionMagazine.com
Categories Method (sometimes referred to as the table method)
for determining arc flash boundaries is outlined in 70E as an alternative method, the tables are often misused in the field, which can
put workers at risk. To correctly use the table method, a worker
would need to know the magnitude of the available fault current and protective device clearing time that apply to the specific
equipment on which he or she will be working. But as a practical
matter these parameters can only be
determined by calculation.
The engineering analysis method
involves reviewing technical data and
using software to perform calculations.
Performing an engineering analysis
clearly takes more time and expense
than using the tables, but putting in
the extra effort delivers more accurate, site-specific results that lead to
more effective safety practices and
could even save a life.
2. Give Your Workers Hands
Based on the results of your arc
flash hazard analysis, you can customize a safety training program that
ensures workers fully understand the
shock and arc flash hazards present in
your workplace. Specifically, NFPA 70E
requires that workers must learn skills
for identifying and assessing electrical
and arc flash hazards and for selecting
and using the right PPE. They must also
be trained to read and follow hazard
warning labels and to implement
methods for reducing risk when working on live exposed parts.
These training requirements are rigorous, but with lives on
the line they are warranted. The training is also ideally delivered
in an instructor-led setting as opposed to Web-based training, a
preference that has been indicated by OSHA and industry professionals around the world. Per NFPA 70E, such training needs to be
provided at least every three years and whenever new procedures
or practices are introduced.
It's important to keep in mind that today's standards mandate
safety training for employees who work on energized electrical equipment as well as for employees who work around such
equipment. Furthermore, to ensure compliance, training must be
documented and your training program must be audited every
3. Help Your Employees Choose the Right Protection
Using the appropriate PPE is one of the best ways to avoid injuries from arc flash. Without it, employees can be seriously injured
or even killed, and your organization could be hit with hefty fines
as a result.
For example, just last year an electric technician working in
Buffalo, NY, sustained third degree burns on her hand and first
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronics Protection - Fall 2015
Electronics Protection - Fall 2015
Beat the Heat: Six Best Practices for Protecting Your People and Your Business from Arc Flash Hazards
Data Center Design and Cooling for Sensitive Electronics
Electronic Access Solutions - Design Considerations for Your Data Center
An Unsung Hero: the Gas Discharge Tube
Innovation Demands That You Break the Rules
Calendar of Events
Electronics Protection - Fall 2015