Second a four-part series on Arc Flash Mitigation


The previous installment in this series on arc flash mitigation explored the importance of using remote racking systems, such as the Saf-T-Rack, to ensure technicians are as far removed from the potential blast zone as possible. Before making the investment to purchase safety equipment, there is something you should do first: hire fully trained professionals to conduct studies of your power system.

National Field Services (NFS) performs a variety of power system studies, including arc flash hazard analysis. These studies are designed to maximize power quality, improve power system performance and reliability, and increase personnel safety.

“Our studies provide a comprehensive look at all equipment and safety measures to improve the reliability and minimize the risk of injury,” said Eric Beckman, Field Services Manager for NFS. “If the equipment is not properly maintained, the risk of electrical hazard skyrockets and employees could be exposed to a much more dangerous situation.”

The studies also help ensure the company is compliant with NFPA 70E, The Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, requires employers to put in place practices and standards that are designed to protect its employees from arc flashes and other electrical hazards.

The first NFPA 70E standard was published in 1979, but it wasn’t until the fifth edition in 1995 that many of the current workplace safety requirements were included. NFPA 70E is updated every two years, and the 2012 edition is due out at the end of the year. While NFPA 70E has not been adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), the governing organization can, in fact, fine employers for not being in compliance with the measure.

To that end, NFPA 70E sets forth the following steps that employers should take to be in compliance with OSHA regulations:

  • Create a facility safety program with defined responsibilities
  • Calculate arc flash hazards for relevant equipment
  • Provide appropriate PPE for live work
  • Train workers on arc flash hazards and safe work practices
  • Provide appropriate tools for working with energized equipment
  • Place warning labels on equipment that poses an arc flash risk

Sounds easy enough, but the reality is that people still don’t necessarily know whether or not they are in compliance. How can you be sure? Again, the simple answer is to have a firm such as NFS conduct comprehensive studies of your operation.

NFS’ arc flash study will calculate the incident energy and arc flash boundary for any point in a power system, as well as identify appropriate levels of personal protective equipment for employees. Each study is presented in a clear manner that is in accordance with all major standards.

"We can help you interpret and develop a plan that will help bring you into compliance with NFPA 70E," Beckman said. "You will receive a written report of findings and recommendations, including methods to reduce arc flash incident energy levels and enhance worker safety. Our extensive experience in the electrical power distribution industry, in combination with the latest engineering software, produces electrical engineering documentation of the highest quality."

If you want to know more about electrical safety, contact National Field Services by clicking here.

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