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The First Steps Toward Preparing for Arc Flash Standards

Posted on July 31, 2012 11:33 am

Your company may be putting off implementing an arc flash study and implementing the safe work practices detailed in NFPA 70E until funding becomes available. However, there are a number of things that you can do to prepare mentally for the inevitable. I say inevitable because all industries see the writing on the wall. OSHA and MSHA will eventually actively cite companies who have not had a study completed. Aside from this, organization leaders see the needs and benefits to implementing “best practices” toward electrical safety. NFPA 70E is exactly that, the preeminent standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.

  • Prepare Yourself
  1. Get a copy of NFPA 70E and read it. It is not a difficult read and costs only about $50. If you are pressed for time, read only Chapter 1- Safety-Related Work Practices. It is only 32 pages! Subtract the definitions and you only have 27 pages to read. You will eventually want to take a look at the Annex for examples.
  2. Attend an arc flash training class near you. If you don’t have the budget for this, attend one of the many free webinars or workshops. Or purchase an arc flash training video.
  • Prepare Your Electrical Workers –
  1. Share what you have learned with your electrical workers and ask for their input.
  2. Send them to an arc flash training class if possible.
  • Prepare Your Boss and the Management Team
  1. Implementing NFPA 70E will cost more than just the cost of a study.
  2. Arc Flash Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will need to be purchased for each of your electrical workers. This may cost $2,000 or more for each electrical worker.
  3. Insulated tools may need to be purchased if you don’t already have them.
  4. The study may turn up some deficiencies in your electrical system that need to be corrected. This may be wire that is undersized for the protective devices or breakers that do not have sufficient interrupt capacity for the available fault current. Corrective actions for these issues would be replacing circuit breakers and running large circuit conductors.
  5. Unacceptable high levels of arc flash hazard may be discovered. Correcting these issues might be as simple as changing breaker settings, but may mean upgrading or replacing circuit breakers or installing other corrective measures.
  6. Performing energized work will take longer. – Time will be required to perform a hazard analysis, fill out the energized work permit, set up barricades, locate a standby and coordinate the work, gather the PPE and don it.  

These are some no-cost or low-cost ways to prepare mentally for implementing arc flash standards at your facility. Next week’s blog will go over some of the practical ways to prepare for implementing arc flash standards such as gather the needed documentation and deciding on policies and procedures.



This entry was posted in Arc Flash


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