Assessing the workplace to determine if hazards are present (which includes the electrical hazards such as arc flash and shock) has been a requirement for nearly 50 years.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of December 29, 1970, states “An Act: To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women …”
“SEC. 5. Duties (a) Each employer —
(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;” Arc flash and Shock is a “recognized hazard” and must be assessed to determine the risk to employees and the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) that must be used by employees who may be exposed to the hazards.
OSHA 1910.335(a)(v) states: “Employees shall wear protective equipment for the eyes or face wherever there is danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from electrical explosion.”
OSHA is the “What I need to do” and NFPA 70E is the “How I need to do it”
The first requirements for performing an Arc Flash Hazard Assessment appeared 24 years ago in Section 2-3.3.3 Flash Hazard Analysis of the 1995 edition of NFPA 70E Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces. This edition provided information and a sample calculation of Flash Protection Boundary.
Much of this information was based on a white paper written 38 years ago by Ralph H Lee called “The Other Electrical Hazard: Electric Arc Blast Burns”
A corporate case study examining electrical injury reporting and safety practices found that 40 percent of electrical incidents involved 250 volts or less and were indicative of a misperception of electrical safety as a high-voltage issue. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that there were nearly 6000 fatal electrical injuries to workers in the United States from 1992 through 2012. In the recently issued 29 CFR Subpart V, OSHA identified 99 injuries that involved burns from arcs from energized equipment faults or failures, resulting in 21 fatalities and 94 hospitalized injuries for the period January 1991 through December 1998.
Since 2002 the NEC article 110.6 has required Arc Flash Warning labels to be applied on equipment that is likely to require examination and adjustment, servicing, or maintenance, while energized.
NFPA 70E went further with this and not only required equipment to be labeled but what information actually has to be on the label.
Jump forward to the present, 2018 NFPA 70E 130.5(H) states “Equipment Labeling. Electrical equipment such as switchboards, panelboards, industrial control panels, meter socket enclosures, and motor control centers that are in other than dwelling units and that are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized shall be marked with a label containing all the following information:
(1) Nominal system voltage
(2) Arc flash boundary
(3) At least one of the following:
a. Available incident energy and the corresponding working distance, or the arc flash PPE category in Table 130.7(C)(15)(a) or Table 130.7(C)(15)(b) for the equipment, but not both (many companies still produce incorrect labels with both the HRC and calories on a label)
b. Minimum arc rating of clothing
c. Site-specific level of PPE
The method of calculating and the data to support the information for the label shall be documented. The data shall be reviewed for accuracy at intervals not to exceed 5 years. Where the review of the data identifies a change that renders the label inaccurate, the label shall be updated.
The owner of the electrical equipment shall be responsible for the documentation, installation, and maintenance of the marked label.”
Example of Electrical Safety Specialists 2018 compliant label:
Our arc flash engineering technicians have several years of experience in commercial/industrial electrical installations and maintenance. They also have extensive training on the intricacies of the data collection process to perform Arc Flash Risk Assessment, Selective Coordination, and Equipment Evaluation, just to name a few.
For more information about arc flash assessment, call Electrical Safety Specialists at (816) 925-0443.