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Arc Flash Assesment and PPE

July 19, 2023


Arc Flash Assesment and PPE

In 2023, Arc Flash is a necessity for most industrial companies. These assessments are a necessity of maintaining a safe work environment. Arc Flash hazard is a type of electrical hazard where there is a risk of electricity arcing from an energized conductor onto another part of equipment or even a person in some cases. The goal of arc flash assessment is to determine the hazard in terms of incident energy at major pieces of equipment and possibly provide mitigation methods. An arc blast is an arcing fault that generates an arc blast. The strength of an arc blast creates an explosive pressure wave that can eject shrapnel, molten metal, plastic, and paint across a room, causing severe injuries or death to those who are close to the blast.

There are many important terms that will be used when performing arc flash assessments. One of the main terms used will be Cal/cm^2. This number refers to the amount of energy a worker would be exposed to during an arc flash incident. Other important terms to know when working with arc flash would be De energized, meaning, free from any electrical connection to a source of potential difference. Flame-Resistant (FR), known as the property of material whereby combustion is prevented, terminated, or inhibited following the application of a flaming or non-flaming source of ignition with or without removal of the ignition source. Flash Hazard is a condition associated with the release of energy caused by an electric arc, while flash hazard analysis is a study looking into a worker’s potential exposure to arc flash energy, conducted for the sole purpose of injury prevention. The definition of Shock Hazard would be a dangerous electrical condition associated with the possible release of electrical energy caused by contact or approach to energized arts. A person must be exposed to a potential difference of 50 volts or more for a shock hazard to exist. The list of terms could go on forever, but these terms are important to know when working with arc flash. Overall, proper training in arc flash is required before anything having to do with arc flash.

Personal Protective Equipment

It is essential to follow all the protocols and wear all required PPE. Personal Protective Equipment refers to equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards. Each protective garment needed to perform these assessments is equally important. Electrical googles protect the eyes from any ‘flash over” that could occur if any electrical spark is produced. The face shields are worn to protect the face from molten metal or from arcing energy. Rubber insulated gloves are worn to protect our hands and lower arms from electric shock. A zip up to collar, and arc rated balaclava protects the head and neck from the heat and pressure of an arc flash. Arc flash clothing, such as coveralls are worn to protect the entire body from any sparks, and lastly, leather shoes with rubber soles are a must when performing arc flash assessments. It is important that all PPE used are kept in good condition for them to provide the best protection.

Arc Flash Assessments

Only trained and qualified employees can work on or near exposed energized electrical parts and supervise unqualified persons in the vicinity of the hazard. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a large regulatory agency of the United States Department of Labor that originally had federal visitorial powers to inspect and examine workplaces. According to the NFPA 70E article 130.5 an arc flash assessment must be performed every 5 years. Furthermore, under OSHA, everyone is required to renew their arc flash training once every 3 years. It is very important to stay OSHA compliant. Training requirements to preform arc flash assessments should include,

  • Specific hazards associated with electrical energy.
  • Special precautionary techniques and safety related work practices.
  • PPE, insulating and shielding materials, insulated tools and test equipment.
  • Emergency response and AED training
  • Skills and techniques to distinguish energized parts determine nominal voltages.
  • Approach distances
  • Decision making process and ability to perform job tasks.

Many important steps are needed to properly perform an arc flash assessment. Here, at Prism, as part of our arc flash hazard assessments we offer protective device coordination, short circuit analysis, and we can recommend hazard mitigation methods.

Another very significant part of the Arc Flash Assessment is the warning label. This label typically indicates how much of a hazard there is on various equipment. It also lists the incident energy value. Based on that number, the electricians decide what personal protective equipment they should wear. The basic requirements of arc flash warning labels are boundary of the arc flash, nominal system voltage and arc flash PPE category or incident energy and working distance. Typically, these warning labels are placed on the panel or enclosure door. As of 2002 these labels are mandatory.

At Prism, safety is our top priority. When it comes to working with electrical equipment, safety is of the utmost importance. In our place of work, we make sure to perform arc flash assessments to the highest quality while taking all necessary safety precautions to protect workers.

By: Angela Sendik