Arc Flash Safety – Professionals working in the electrical industry (electricians, contractors, engineers, etc) are familiar with safety guidelines and requirements as established by OSHA. Training and certification in the workplace for those professionals who in contact with electrical currents, power lines, and other potentially hazardous electrical situations are required by law. The safety of employees is of great importance for all employers and therefore, great efforts have been made to ensure protection for all personnel through yearly safety training and certifications.
Arc Flash Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
For years, the standard personal protective equipment (PPE) for electrical safety remained consistent. Flame Resistant (FR) equipment was known, recognized and used regularly by all professionals and there were measure of accountability to ensure compliance with the standards placed by OSHA. Therefore, all industry professionals were familiar with the appropriate PPE and safety precautions required for handling potential electrical hazards.
However, in the early 80’s an electrical engineer named Ralph Lee brought the concept of Arc Flash to the attention of the industry. He emphasized that an electric arc between metals is four times hotter than the surface of the sun. Lee’s ideas were dismissed as fantastical initially and it took decades for his concepts to gain acceptance. As recently as a decade ago arc flash danger was often not given the consideration it should have been. It’s easy to see why Arc Flash mitigation has become urgent when OSHA reports 80% of all electrically related accidents and fatalities among qualified electrical workers are industrial arc flash events.
Arc Flash is real and it is deadly. However, workplace safety standards by OSHA have not yet met the same standards as those that would prevent fatalities in incidences in which arc flash occurs. In many cases, the correct PPE, and adhering to additional safety precautions during these incidences would be enough to prevent serious injury and death, if the equipment used is properly labeled per the NFPA 70E standards. These standards offer significantly more protection when working in situations in which Arc Flash may occur.
The difference between the Flame Resistant (FR) rating and Arc Rating (AR) is simply a matter of the equipment being tested to withstand the arc flash hazard, as opposed to only being resistant to flames. In creating this new standard, the NFPA 70E committee insists that all Arc Rated equipment is also Flame Resistant, so as to ensure that the safety standards of OSHA are inherently met, without question and thereby reducing the need for additional equipment – for both standards.
In order to receive the Arc Rating, 21 different samples of the fabric are placed into arc flash testing scenarios that contain sensors that measure the transfer of heat through the fabric. This testing makes it possible to predict whether or not a 2nd degree burn would occur in Arc Flash situations.
These additional safety measures ensure fewer third degree burns will occur in arc flash instances, creating a safer work environment for all employees.
Arc Flash Safety – Learn More about Arc Rated and Flame Resistance Arc Flash
Advancements in Arc Flashing Research
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the largest professional organization worldwide. It’s a major source of information and research on arc flashing to improve safety standards and safeguards and predict potential arc flash hazards.
For those with a career in electrical engineering, welding or as licensed electricians, it’s important to seek a comprehensive arc flash training and consulting source that is also fully versed in regulatory compliance such as OSHA.
Leedy Electric is here to help companies determine what level of PPE they are required to provide to qualified electrical workers who work on energized electrical equipment and Arc Flash Safety. You may contact them at (863) 425-2698.