Arc flashes cause 80% of electrical-related accidents and fatalities involving “qualified workers”. Arc flashes occur where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path. Temperatures at arc terminals can exceed 35,000 degrees – four times the temperature of the sun’s surface. When arcs cause equipment to explode, flying metal pieces can travel at a life-threatening 700 mph. Anything that produces electric current has the potential to create an arc, but can be mitigated through arc flash services.
Costs of noncompliance. NFPA 70E provides instructions on how to comply with OSHA’s electrical safety regulations. Even though NFPA 70E is considered voluntary, OSHA is able to cite companies for noncompliance when an accident causes an injury or death. Medical care for an arc flash victim can exceed $1,000,000 and OSHA penalties can tack on $500,000 for companies per facility.
NFPA 70E contains significant differences companies need to be aware of to remain compliant. Here are some of the notable changes companies need to be aware of to avoid compromising worker’s lives, to reduce liability, and to prevent costly downtime:
- More stringent “Risk Assessments” replace “Hazard Analyses.”
- Electrical safety programs must now include “maintenance status” as a primary element. The responsibility for proper maintenance is assigned to the equipment owner or the owner’s designated representative.
- Categories of “Arc Flash PPE” (Personal Protective Equipment) replace HRC (Hazard Risk Category) tables.
- It is the responsibility of the employer to provide safety education to “all employees who are exposed to electrical hazards”, broadening the safety training beyond maintenance workers, electricians, and operators.
Would your business pass a surprise electrical safety NFPA 70E arc flash audit from OSHA? Truthfully, not many companies would pass the new standards. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, every 30 minutes a worker is hurt so severely from electricity that it requires time off work. Companies need to become familiar with new, more stringent, NFPA 70E 2018 standards.
Risk Assessment Services. The ECS Technical Services arc flash risk assessment includes the following elements:
- Provide an up-front explanation of the requirements of NFPA 70E 2018
- Survey existing or new electrical systems to collect data necessary to perform a short-circuit analysis, protective device coordination study, and arc flash analysis
- Develop a plan to correct any repairs, system updates, or deficiencies necessary to meet NEC and NFPA guidelines
- Update building electrical one-line diagrams to depict current system
- To meet arc flash compliance, deliver the completed risk assessment and install NFPA compliant labels identifying protection levels
- Optional – Comprehensive three (3) hour training covering OSHA Regulations and NFPA 70E – perfect for anyone working on or near energized electrical equipment
Should you have questions or comments regarding this material or would like to schedule an Arc Flash services consultation for your facility, please contact ECS Technical Services at your earliest convenience.