Arc Flash Realities
“I can create my own warning labels by using the tables from 130.7 in the NFPA 70E and my workers will be protected from arc flash hazards.”
REALITY: These generic tables provide hazard/risk categories and their associated suggested PPE for tasks performed on energized equipment, however the tables are NOT ACCURATE because they don’t take into account an electrical system as a whole. A complete Arc Flash Hazard Analysis should be performed on the whole electrical system and labels created that provide specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for each specific piece of equipment. >Read more about arc flash labeling
“My equipment is labeled, now my workers will be safe.”
REALITY: An Arc Flash Hazard Analysis is about HAZARD REDUCTION, not merely labeling and PPE selection. A comprehensive analysis should include recommendations to mitigate the hazards identified in your system.
“OSHA doesn’t require me to perform an Arc Flash Hazard Analysis so I don’t need one.”
REALITY: If an accident occurs in your facility OSHA can cite and fine you for not having an Arc Flash Hazard Analysis. Although there is some discrepancy in the industry regarding OSHA regulations, OSHA 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910, Subpart S states “Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall be provided with, and shall use, electrical protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed.”
“My company uses an arc flash safety calculator. These calculations provide us with accurate PPE Categories.”
REALITY: Arc Flash calculators should be used for demonstration purposes only and SHOULD NOT BE USED to calculate values for personal protection. Calculators only allow you to analyze one piece of equipment at a time, without taking into account upstream and downstream contributions. Many calculators will require information that you can only acquire by performing a legitimate study.
If you are using a calculator from a reputable company, please note that they may provide disclaimers such as “Note: this is a demonstration tool only and not meant to calculate arc flash values for personal protection.” (www.easypower.com)
“A complete Arc Flash Hazard Analysis is too expensive- we can’t afford it.”
REALITY: The initial cost of acquiring a full-service analysis on your facility is minor compared to the cost to your company if an incident occurs or an injury happens and you don’t have an arc flash hazard analysis and proper labeling. You cannot put a price on the value of the lives of your personnel.