Reality of a Arc Flash

  It is a widely held belief that an arc flash incident is rare. Not so. Check out these statistics compiled from various sources and pertaining to arc flash incidents in the U.S.:

  • 30,000 arc flash incidents occur every year
  • 7,000 burn injuries relating to arc flashes occur annually
  • 2,000 hospitalizations of workers severely burned by arc flashes occur annually
  • 400 fatalities are recorded every year
  • 80% of electrical worker fatalities are due to burns, not shocks


Source: www.arcflash.com.au  

GOVERNING BODIES 

OSHA Act: 

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace. OSHA's mission is to assure safe and healthy workplaces by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. Employers must comply with all applicable OSHA standards. 

Employers must also comply with the General Duty Clause of OSHA, which requires employers to keep their workplace free of serious recognized hazards


Twenty-six states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans. Twenty-two State Plans (21 states and one U.S. territory) cover both private and state and local government workplaces. The remaining six State Plans (five states and one U.S. territory) cover state and local government workers only. 


TO BE TRUTHFUL OSHA IS ONLY ONE OF MANY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES THAT REGULATES INDUSTRY TODAY. EACH WITH THEIR OWN WAY OF INTERPRETING THE IEEE, NFPA 70-E, NEC AND NESC CODES.


KNOWING THE DIFFERENCES OF EACH STATE REGULATION AND THE FEDERAL CAN BE A DAUNTING TASKS.


 LET THE EXPERTS AT SOUTHERN SAFETY CONSULTING & SERVICES TAKE CONTROL OF THE PROJECT AND GIVE YOU OUTSTANDING RESULTS. 


  Top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in FY2016 The following were the top 10 most frequently cited standards by Federal OSHA in fiscal year 2016 (October 1, 2015, through September 30, 2016)

As you can see OSHA has put a push on electrical safety, with 4 out of the 10 items listed above revolving around electrical safety     

OSHA Inspections

 On-site Inspections Preparation—Before conducting an inspection, OSHA compliance officers research the inspection history of a worksite using various data sources, review the operations and processes in use and the standards most likely to apply. They gather appropriate personal protective equipment and testing instruments to measure potential hazards. Presentation of credentials—The on-site inspection begins with the presentation of the compliance officer’s credentials, which include both a photograph and a serial number. Opening Conference—The compliance officer will explain why OSHA selected the workplace for inspection and describe the scope of the inspection, walkaround procedures, employee representation and employee interviews. The employer then selects a representative to accompany the compliance officer during the inspection. An authorized representative of the employees, if any, also has the right to go along. In any case, the compliance officer will consult privately with a reasonable number of employees during the inspection. Walkaround—Following the opening conference, the compliance officer and the representatives will walk through the portions of the workplace covered by the inspection, inspecting for hazards that could lead to employee injury or illness. The compliance officer will also review worksite injury and illness records and the posting of the official OSHA poster. During the walkaround, compliance officers may point out some apparent violations that can be corrected immediately. While the law requires that these hazards must still be cited, prompt correction is a sign of good faith on the part of the employer. Compliance officers try to minimize work interruptions during the inspection and will keep confidential any trade secrets they observe. Closing Conference—After the walkaround, the compliance officer holds a closing conference with the employer and the employee representatives to discuss the findings. The compliance officer discusses possible courses of action an employer may take following an inspection, which could include an informal conference with OSHA or contesting citations and proposed penalties. The compliance officer also discusses consultation services and employee rights.   

How to have a safe electrical work place

The safest and the most cost effective way is to follow NFPA 70-E by doing a 

  • Electrical Analysis of your system starting with your utility companies power supply
  • Mitigate any serious electrical issues you have in your plant 
  • Create accurate one line electrical drawing 
  • Develop administrative action plan and write Standard Operating Procedures 
  • Label all electric panels following NFPA 70-E 
  • Train your employees
  • Document the training and update personnel files
  • Be proud of what you have done and celebrate with your employees  

Can I use the personal protective equipment tables in NFPA 70E, or should I have an incident energy

 Ryan Downey States and we agree with him that this is one of the most common questions I am asked. The NFPA 70E 2015 standard states in Section 130.5 that an arc flash risk assessment should be performed and that either of two methods – but not both – should be used for the selection of personal protective equipment:

  • Incident energy analysis method
  • Arc flash PPE categories method

It is definitely easier to turn to the tables in Section 130.7(C)(15) and 130.7(C)(16), which are based on the type of equipment you are working on and task at hand, to determine what PPE you should wear. However, this is where a lot of the confusion and misunderstanding can come into play. How do you know for certain you can use these tables?

Often overlooked is that NFPA 70E requires the available fault current and clearing time of the protective devices to be known, which is typically not the case. NFPA 70E specifically states that an incident energy analysis should be required for the following:

  • Tasks not listed in Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(a)
  • Power systems with greater than the estimated maximum available short-circuit current
  • Power systems with longer than the maximum fault clearing times
  • Tasks with less than the minimum working distance

The PPE tables were created as a conservative approach to giving guidance to electricians working on electrical equipment without proper signage or that has not had an arc flash study performed. This is typically the case (unfortunately) for contracted workers. The results of improperly using the PPE tables can result in non-compliance and because of this can cause serious injuries leading to OSHA fines. 

NFPA 70E also states that the owner of the electrical equipment is responsible for having an incident energy analysis performed. In the case of a study not having been performed, the tables should be used on an interim basis until one is completed.When the NFPA 70E tables are used instead of an incident energy analysis, some things to consider are:

  • Notes in the tables that have specific requirements for the PPE are generally ignored.
  • The short-circuit current is assumed.
  • The protective device clearing time is assumed.

Also, maintenance of the protective devices is not considered, which can definitely affect the incident energy in the event a sticky breaker or such is not opening when it should, so the clearing time of the device would be inaccurate. It is also important to understand that the tables and the incident energy calculations are not intended to work together. This is why NFPA 70E has done away with the PPE values and identifies PPE with actual incident energy values for the analysis. Arc flash protective clothing is rated in arc thermal performance value (or ATPV), which is also expressed in cal/cm2. Essentially, you need to be certain that the cal/cm2 rating of the PPE you are wearing is greater than the calculated incident energy (or cal/cm2) of the equipment you are working on. NFPA 70E is setting the tone for the industry to start selecting the PPE based on a cal/cm2 value instead of a PPE category number. 



Dr. David Wallis from OSHA

Dr. Wallis explains the relationship between OSHA  and NPFA 70-E

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