Tackling invisible hazards through arc flash analysis
An arc flash is a type of electrical explosion that can destroy equipment and cause serious injuries to workers. An arc flash is caused when a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path, passing through the air between conductors or from a conductor to the ground. It can result in temperatures reaching as high as 35,000° Fahrenheit — that’s 4x hotter than the surface of the sun — leading to fire, burns, flying objects, blast pressure, or sound blasts.
The light, heat, and blast can cause extreme bodily injury and even death. Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhering to electrical safety protocols and boundaries are critical components to keeping workers safe.
How can you ensure that your facility is safe? Consider an arc flash analysis.
An arc flash analysis or arc flash assessment is an evaluation performed by highly skilled engineers to identify code or electrical safety violations in your facility. They provided short circuit analysis, a protective device coordination study, and a one-line electrical diagram to offer a robust picture of your arc flash risks. The assessment determines the incident energy to which a worker may be exposed and how to protect the worker from an arc flash accident and other electrical hazards.
Arc flash analysis is mandatory if any employee is working on or around energized equipment rated above 50V, or if the facility has service equipment rated at 1200A or more for states that have adopted the latest version of the NEC.
An arc flash risk assessment is part of a complete electrical arc flash analysis required by government regulations like OSHA, NFPA 70E and NFPA 70. Those regulations can be a bit difficult to follow, so here is a handy breakdown:
OSHA 29 CFR Part 1910 requires that an employer conduct an assessment to determine if hazards are present which necessitate personal protective equipment (PPE). It also requires that employees wear appropriate PPE to protect specific parts of the body that could be exposed and use insulated tools or handling equipment. It requires proper training in accordance with OSHA electrical safety requirements, and qualified professionals to test equipment and verify that parts are de-energized.
NFPA 70E provides guidance on work practices and safety requirements for workers engaging in the installation, inspection, operation, maintenance, and demolition of electric conductors and other equipment. It requires an arc flash analysis to determine the proper boundary and safe work processes. It also requires that each panel be marked with an Arc Flash Hazard Warning Label.
NFPA 70 has been adopted in all 50 U.S. states as the benchmark for safe electrical design, installation, and inspection. It addresses PPE, labeling, and electrical handling procedures.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 1584 provides a guide to performing arc flash calculations with formulas and methods for determining things like arc flash boundaries and incident energy.
An arc flash boundary is the amount of physical distance that workers should keep between themselves and electrical equipment. It represents the area no worker should pass unless they have specific training and PPE. Equipment may be marked with a limited approach boundary where trained workers wearing appropriate PPE can cross into the territory but nobody else. It may also be marked with a restricted approach boundary that is the closest area to electrical equipment and may require a work permit, documentation, and the most protective PPE available.
1. Phase 1 – Field Survey
2. Phase 2 – Electrical One-line
3. Phase 3 – Data Entry/Analysis
4. Phase 4 – Draft/Final Reports
5. Phase 5 – Arc Flash Label Installation/Requirements
TÜV SÜD Global Risk Consultants (GRC) performs short-circuit, protective device coordination and arc flash risk analysis to ensure compliance and safety in your facility. We are licensed throughout the United States to deliver a consistent, high quality service regardless of geographic location. Our team of highly-skilled electrical engineers will identify code or electrical safety violations during the survey. In addition to providing short circuit analysis, protective device coordination study and one-line electrical diagram, we will also work with your team to develop a training program to prepare your employees to operate safely in this environment.
Have a question or need immediate assistance? Get in touch!
Find out if your facility requires an arc flash assessment under NFPA 70E and NFPA 70
Understand your arc flash exposure
An introduction to Infrared Thermography/Arc Flash
Learn about the 2018 update to NFPA 70E and the importance of completing an arc flash assessment
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