Arc Flash Safety

What is an Arc Flash?

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An arc flash is a short circuit through air that flashes over from one exposed live conductor to another conductor or to ground.

Check out this arc flash resource from OSHA to learn more.

What Causes an Arc Flash?

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Blue ArrowComing close to a high-amp source with a conductive object                can cause the electricity to flash over
Blue ArrowDropping a tool or otherwise creating a spark can ignite an                  arc flash
Blue ArrowEquipment failure due to use of substandard parts, improper                installation, or even normal wear and tear
Blue ArrowBreaks or gaps in insulation
Blue ArrowDust, corrosion or other impurities on the surface of the                      conductor

Current Arc Flash Boundaries

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The arc flash boundaries are designed to keep employees safe while they are working near energized equipment.

Exposed Conductor, or Circuit
RESTRICTED Approach Boundary
(distance at which there is increased danger of shock)
LIMITED Approach Boundary
(distance at which employees could be exposed to a shock hazard)
ARC FLASH Boundary
(furthest established boundary from the energy source where heat generated could result in burns)

Complying with 2015 Arc Flash Requirements (NFPA 70E Standard)

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The NFPA 70E 2012 edition instructs employers to conduct an arc flash hazard analysis (now “Arc Flash Risk Assessment”) to determine the amount of thermal energy that could be generated in an arc flash incident. The information is then used to define a flash protection boundary around the potential source, and to determine the level of arc-rated apparel and other personal protection equipment required when employees cross the boundary while they work on or near exposed live parts.

Arc Flash Printer Blue ArrowQualified and trained employees that demonstrate skills and
Blue ArrowFacility has a written safety program in place that is actionable
Blue ArrowPersonal protective equipment (PPE) available for employees
Blue ArrowInsulated tools
Blue ArrowArc flash hazard degree has been calculated
Blue ArrowEquipment is properly labeled by owners

See changes to the 2015 Arc Flash Requirements

How to Label According to Arc Flash Requirements

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To increase safety and ensure compliance throughout the workplace, it is essential to identify arc flash hazards in your facilities. Arc flash labeling is an important responsibility that should be addressed by the employer and includes the labeling of electrical equipment, such as switchboards, panel boards, industrial control boards, meter socket enclosures and meter control centers.

These labels should have relevant information to keep employees safe, including nominal system voltage, arc flash boundary and personal protective equipment information. Read more...

Learn more about arc flash requirements and the NFPA 70E 2015 Changes:

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NFPA 70E 2015 Changes

With the changes to the NPFA 70E requirements in 2015 there were some key updates to vocabulary, boundary
requirements, PPE, training and equipment labeling.