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Arc Flash News
Workers in the electrical maintenance
and electrical contractor Industry are being exposed to
the risk of an electric arc flash fatality or injury.
Many workers are unaware of the potential hazards associated with the possibility of electrical arc hazards and must be made aware of the potential consequences.
Employees who are not properly protected through the 70E 2000 compliance standard may be subject to the affects and consequences of an electric arc flash.
An electric arc flash consists of a
short circuit through the air that originates
from electrical equipment sources. The results
can be in the form of air born pieces of metal
causing injury to workers and severe burns due
to the amount of arc flash energy that is
The general industry electrical installation standard has not been updated since 1981, so it is important that we update these requirements to reflect the most current practices and technologies in the industry," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "These changes will strengthen worker protections and help eliminate inconsistencies and possible confusion between OSHA's requirements and many state and local building codes which have adopted updated NFPA and NEC provisions."
Proposed changes to OSHA's general industry electrical installation standard (1910 Subpart S) focus on safety in the design and installation of electric equipment in the workplace. The changes draw heavily from the 70E 2000 edition of the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces (NFPA 70E), and the 2002 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC).
The NFPA 70E 2000 compliance
standard will help eliminate some of the risk
to workers exposed to electric arc hazards.
Although the 70E compliance standard may seem a burden to some due to the costs of increased PPE it can be looked at as a type of arc flash insurance. Companies that do not comply with the 70E 2000 compliance standard may be subject to claims for personal injury and incidents resulting to death. This could therefore cost millions of dollars in legal costs.
Downtime may also come into affect due to the electrical arc incidents that have occurred through flashes resulting in thousands of dollars per minute.
Electric Arc Flash has become more of a concern through the requirement of increased power consumption for Industrial applications. For this reason the 70E 2000 compliance standard has that much more benefits for the applications involved.
Electrical arc flash hazards do not just occur in the presence of high voltage industrial facilities. Locations consisting of many low voltage equipment sources actually account for the most electrical arc flash ocurrences.
It may be that electrical personal do not realize this increased risk of electrical arc flash exposure through lack of information about the 70E 2000 compliance standards and the potential consequences of non compliance.
OSHA, enforces safety practices in the workplace. Its 29 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1910.333 states, in part, "Safety related work practices shall be employed to prevent electric shock or other injuries resulting from either direct or indirect electrical contacts..." Traditionally, many electrical contractors have guarded primarily against electrical shock and electrocution. Many of them believe that if they don't touch something that can shock them, then they are protected from an electrical arc flash. Clearly however, arc flash doesn't require an electrical worker to touch a piece of energized equipment in order to be harmed; it is an example of the "other injuries" included in OSHA 1910.333.
Due to the implications of the hazard of electrical arc flash the 70E 2000 compliance standard will help promote the requirement of employee safety training for arc flash hazards.
Safety programs should involve standard practices for employees that may come into contact with electrical arc flash hazards. The use of the appropriate PPE and standards for the operation of the electrical equipment must be implemented through guidance included in the 70E 2000 compliance standards.
Proper standard practices should be
integrated into employee training programs to
comply with the NFPA 70E 2000 standards.
These programs should focus on such issues as
on the job 70E 2000 compliance in the form of
proper use of PPE associated to the electrical job task
Electrical contractors coming on site to work that may be exposed to electric arc flash must be informed of the local safety program in order to be in compliance with the 70E 2000 standards.
The NFPA 70E 2000 compliance standard states that electrical workers must de-energize equipment to be worked on except in critical situations where the power must be left on.
NFPA 70E 2000 also provides tables that will determine the PPE required for certain electrical arc flash situations based on the voltage involved with the equipment being worked on.
Also of note is the OSHA and NFPA 70E standards that require that equipment to be worked on must be put into a state of being de-energized as to avoid electrical arc flash exposure.
The use of proper PPE for the task of pre de-energizing of electrical equipment is a safety precaution that must never be over looked.
The fact that electrical arc flash protection apparel can some times be viewed as uncomfortable can be lead to the PPE not being worn by the electrical workers. The 70E 2000 compliance standards have been introduced to protect the worker for this reason.
Pre de-energizing of electrical equipment must be performed while still in an energized state. This can lead to the possibility of an electric arc flash occurring that could cause a fatality. The use of large uncomfortable electrical PPE is a small price to pay for the insurance that a worker can return HOME safely on any given day.
The 70E 2000 compliance standard considers the fact that the risk of an
electrical arc flash may ocurr within a certain area surrounding the source of
electrical discharge points.
This potential arc area is determined by a number of parameters those being the voltage, current and distance from the electrical equipment.
The proper electrical arc PPE required for the job task can be determined
by the use of certain software or NFPA 70E provides a table that can determine
the arc risk. The table will determine the calories per square centimeter which
is how the potential of electrical arc is measured.
Once this is established the appropriate PPE can be issued.
Specific software programs are available that provide a much more accurate calculation compared to the NFPA 70E tables. The NFPA 70E compliance tables can sometimes under estimate the CAL rating due to fluctuations in energy source.
NFPA 70E has established the requirement
of an on site safety program that ensures
adequate electrical arc PPE is available and
worn by workers.
Electrical arc can cause fatalities and/or serious burn injuries to those exposed to the area of concern.
For this reason every facility must conform to the NFPA 70E compliance for work place safety.
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