Conducting Risk Assessments
Knowing that there are many ways an arc flash occurs increases the necessity to conduct an arc flash analysis before having to deal with serious issues, namely OSHA violations. Some situations to be aware of include:
- A conductive object coming into close proximity of a high-amp source can lead to an electricity flash over
- Creating a spark by doing something like dropping a tool could ignite a flash
- Substandard parts or improper installation causing equipment failure
- Impurities such as corrosion or dust getting on the surface of a conductor
OSHA Requirements Related to the NFPA 70E Standard
Details on complying with OHSA regulation regarding this type of hazard is provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
According to the 70E standard provided by NFPA, companies have six primary responsibilities for securing their facilities. These include:
- Training employees
- Having a written, actionable safety program in place
- Making sure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is made available to employees
- Using insulated tools
- Calculating degrees of arc flash hazards
- Labeling equipment properly
In addition, employers must conduct risk assessments to determine how much thermal energy could be generated from an incident. Information gathered from the assessments is used to define boundaries around potential sources that need to be protected.
Additionally, you will need the information to decide the level of apparel and PPE employees will need that can protect them against an unexpected flash. This is essential since there might be times when employees will need to cross boundaries when working on or near explosively live parts.
Conducting Risk Assessments
Conducting arc flash risk assessments is important for a variety of reasons such as:
- Preventing injury or death
- Minimizing damage to equipment
- Minimizing downtime of certain systems
- Complying with safety regulations and codes
- Meting insurance requirements
- Avoiding expenses from inevitable litigation after injuries or death
Proper assessments can also help you determine the right way to label different areas, since this is your responsibility as an employer. Manufacturers and installers are not the ones who should mark areas of concern or caution.
Any piece of electrical equipment that will most likely require examination, adjustment or maintenance should be labeled. Otherwise, the potential for an arc flash incident to occur increases when the equipment is energized. Generally, this will include any type of equipment that operates at 50 volts or higher.
Employees want to know that their employer has created a safe workplace. Inevitably, you will want to ensure constant compliance with OSHA rules regarding the safety of your employees. The hazard analysis helps to keep you one step ahead of this important part of operating a facility where arc flash is a concern. Collection of data provides information and insight into what is necessary to keep your employees and facility free from hazardous situations.