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An arc flash is the flow of current traveling through the air. It causes the release of potentially large amounts of energy into the air resulting in an explosion up to 35,000 degrees in an instant.
An arc flash is caused by a phase-to-phase or phase-to-ground fault. This can happen for many reasons including rusting equipment, improper work procedures or even a spider web that becomes humid and moist.
The overall strength of an arc flash is dependent on the following variables:
Due to the hazards that can be present in an arc flash, a worker can suffer first, second, and/or third degree burns beginning at the upper portion of the body and not only on the front but also on the back, internal damage to vital organs from high amounts of voltage traveling through the body, blunt force trauma from the blast, shrapnel causing additional damage to the skin, vision damage both directly after the incident and also as time passes, health effects from breathing toxic fumes, and hearing loss.
It depends on what you consider low voltage but as long as you have 3 phase 208 volts coming into the facility, you should be concerned of the potential hazards of an arc flash. Even with a minimum of 208 volts, the PPE Category could be anywhere between 1 and dangerous. That's why it's important to have an assessment performed to understand the hazards.
There are many associated costs with plenty of variables. It would depend on how much it would cost in downtime, fines assessed by OSHA, electrical equipment repair or replacement, medical bills, workers compensation, litigation, increased insurance premiums, and the void in expertise and decreased morale can be invaluable.
Once a study performed by a competent professional is completed, specific mitigation recommendations can be provided.
Between 1992 and 2002, over 2,000 workers a year were injured by an arc flash. This does not include the arc flashes where no one is injured which is thought to be more common.
Essentially, the difference is life and death. Electrical shock is when voltage goes through part or all of a worker's body and lives. Electrocution is where voltage goes through the body and the worker doesn't live.
An arc flash label is a label placed on applicable electrical equipment after an arc flash assessment is complete warning trained workers of the hazards present and the personal protective equipment necessary to mitigate the risk.
If an electrical panel is clearly marked, anyone who is properly trained will know the hazards and what they need to wear to mitigate those.
Electrical Safety Services
The following are some of the benefits for conducting an assessment.
The following are some of the costs for avoiding an assessment:
It's the responsible thing to do. Most companies want to keep their workers safe and prevent a potentially catastrophic event from occurring. It helps to keep your business running. An arc flash can have a serious affect on your profit / loss statement. Yes, OSHA requires employers to protect workers from hazards as stated in the General Duty Clause but that's the last reason you should consider.
Per NFPA 70E 2015, every 5 years or when major changes are made to your electrical system.
Yes, you can conduct an arc flash assessment but it may take you longer than you expect, take you away from other work, there might be errors due to issues you may not have considered. You can also obtain free software that will help you do your own assessment but usually the old adage is true: you get what you pay for. Salisbury by Honeywell's recommendation is to have a professional assist you, even if it's someone else.
They can be used under electrical engineering supervision. Use under any other situation is simply not protecting you or your workers.
Assuming a point is a bus or protective device that will require an arc flash label, the cost of an assessment varies from $100-$200 per point depending on the following variables:
Understanding in this field is maturing where awareness, acceptance and compliance has been lagging. For this reason, OSHA has begun to apply stricter enforcement.
You can provide the most up-to-date single-line diagram you have, an electrical floor plan and site drawings, original equipment shop drawings, trip setting records or previous professional studies. Accurate documents will speed up the process and potentially lower the cost of the assessment. The most important of these is the single-line diagram. Some already have this prepared, others prefer to do this on their own but for others, it's not an option.
Arc flashes can't be prevented any more than car accidents. Best practice procedures can be followed (e.g. driving defensively) to try and prevent an incident but arc flashes can not be prevented. Certain things can be done, however, to mitigate the results (e.g. wearing your seat belt) in the event an incident were to occur.
While an arc flash assessment isn't specifically mentioned in any OSHA regulation, the General Duty Clause makes an assessment necessary because the presence of a clear hazard to workers exists.
From start to finish, an assessment usually takes anywhere from a week to a few months depending on the amount of work needed to be performed. As far as physically being at your facility, it is usually between a couple of hours to a few weeks.
At the completion of an assessment, you should be provided an updated single-line diagram that assesses every device down to the floor level, new warning labels on all applicable equipment and a report that summarizes the findings and provides recommendations on how to reduce the hazards.
To be OSHA compliant, the following is needed
The steps that go into an assessment are as follows:
This answer depends on the type of organization affected. A corporation can be fined by OSHA. As owner of a private establishment, the owner can be held personally liable.
You can but you might not want to go with that option. The suits with the highest level of protection may not be enough to protect your workers, they may not be necessary, they can be very hot to work in depending on the season, recommendations can be made to reduce the hazards, you won't know if additional equipment is necessary.
By determining the ATPV which comes after an arc flash assessment.
Even with the proper PPE, a worker has a 50% chance of getting a 2nd degree burn. That's just what the standards require. Essentially, recovery and returning to work is a possibility.
It depends on the voltage but whatever it is, Salisbury by Honeywell will most likely have it.
Employees working within the Restricted Approach Boundary must wear Electrical PPE.
In respect to electrical safety, Salisbury by Honeywell's PPE doesn't protect against such hazards as shrapnel, blast pressure, falls or specific vision issues, as a result of an arc flash. It does help mitigate the effects of an arc flash.
It's not enough to give your workers PPE, they must be trained on the recognizing the hazards, how to use and maintain the PPE, how to avoid electrical incidents as well as proper procedures.
Workers exposed to shock hazards and those responsible for taking action in case of an emergency. An employee should be re-trained at least every 3 years or under any of the following conditions:
Arc Flash-Related Federal Agencies & Industry Associations
Congress voted on the Occupational Safety Health Act that would create OSHA and it was passed into law by Pres. Nixon in 1970.
Here are some of OSHA's top priorities for inspections:
Anyone interested in OSHA inspections can go to their website (www.osha.gov).
To dispute results of an OSHA inspection, a notice of contest must be filed within 15 business days to the Occupational Safety and Health Commission.
Any employer with 11 or more workers must keep these types of records. Low-hazard industries like retail, real estate, finance and other services are except from this requirement.