When the insulating medium no longer offers sufficient resistance to the flow of electric current, an arc can occur. If enough electrical energy is present, this arc will ionize the air surrounding it causing a traumatic and explosive event called an arc flash.
This event can result in extreme temperatures (currently beyond the testing limits of most lab equipment), which may cause life changing human injury up to and including death and catastrophic equipment damage.
The main risk associated with arc flash is ignition of polyester, cotton, or other non-flame resistant clothing. When this ignition occurs, the worker may receive significant burn injuries resulting in death or months in burn units. Workers may also have vision loss or damage due to the immense light emitted in the visible, UV, and infrared spectrums.
Arc flash events may be the result of human error (i.e., dropping metal tools into the circuit or panel enclosures), equipment failure (i.e., a failed contactor), inadequately rated electrical test instruments (i.e., a ‘Wiggy’ or an inexpensive digital meter with inadequate fusing), poor craftsmanship (i.e., loose wire nuts or incorrect terminations), pest control issues (i.e., spider webs or rodents crossing phase conductors), and an innumerable assortment of other factors.
Due to the significant nature of an arc flash event, it is imperative that the electrical equipment is labeled with a detailed arc flash warning label, PPE is provided to and used by the worker, and that electrical safety training is performed. Under the General Duty Clause, OSHA can and will issue a citation for not performing an arc flash risk assessment and labeling equipment. OSHA also has referenced NFPA 70E in their citations as this document is the industry standard for electrical safety. OSHA may issue these citations during a site visit or after an accident occurs. Many insurance companies encourage industrial, commercial, institutional, and educational facilities to perform arc flash studies (and this can actually improve your insurance rates as well!). General costs for an arc flash event at your facility can be in the millions!
The following outline details the process for completing an arc flash analysis:
- Collection of Data
- Available One Line Diagrams and/or Panel Schedules
- Conductor Sizes and Lengths
- Distribution Equipment Ratings and Types
- Overcurrent Protection Device Models and Settings
- Transformer Ratings and Impedances
- Incoming Energy Levels to Plant from Utility
- Engineering Analysis
- Integration of Collected Data
- Creating of One Line Diagram
- Incident Energy Calculations
- Engineering Review of Electrical System
- Labels and Reports
- Creation and Application of Labels per ANSI Z535.4 (Several Material Options Available)
- One Line Diagrams
- PPE Requirements
- Fault Analysis and Arc Flash Reports
- Equipment Evaluation
- Mitigation Strategies and Recommendations
- Electrical Safety Training
- NFPA 70E, NEC, OSHA, and IEEE 3007.3 Requirements for Electrical Safety
- PPE Requirements
- Incident Energy and PPE Levels
- Safe Approach Boundaries
- How to Establish and ESWC (Electrically Safe Work Condition)
- Qualified vs. Unqualified Worker Requirements
- Electrical Safety Program Recommendations
We do not use contractors. This is a turnkey process that we have been performing for nearly 20 years! We are the most efficient and experienced in the industry.
Also keep in mind that these arc flash studies need to be updated every 5 years at a minimum; however, anytime a change is made in your electrical system, NFPA 70E requires that the labels are updated accordingly.