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What is Arc Flash?

An arc flash is a dangerous explosion caused by a short circuit. An Arc Flash can result in severe burns, injuries and death. This fault is usually initiated by some external cause, such as a dropped tool, accidental contact or a flawed electrical system, but the fault then sustains itself through the air by creating highly conductive plasma. Intense heat, blinding light, and explosive pressure are all characteristics of an arc flash explosion.  Temperatures in the fault can exceed 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and the intense pressure can send shrapnel and molten metal flying toward the arc flash victim. The explosion also creates pressure waves that can damage hearing or brain function and a flash that can damage eyesight. OSHA recognized arc flash as a serious work related threat in 1990. 

Why do we need an Arc Flash Analysis?

An arc flash study, must be completed for employers to identify arc flash hazard levels to protect employees from know hazards as required by OSHA. OSHA 29CFR 1910 requires employers to calculate the arc flash hazard, enact safe work practices and an appropriate safety program, and provide the proper PPE and training to their employees. Specifics on how to meet arc flash requirements are provided in the NFPA70E, IEEE 1584, and NEC. The National Fire Protection Association NFPA70E set standard work practices regarding electrically energized equipment, requires an arc flash hazard analysis, and ANSI compliant arc flash hazard labeling. The National Electrical Code (NEC) provides additional requirements regarding the warning labels.

What gets an arc flash label?

All panels and other electrical equipment that are likely to be worked in while energized must be marked with an arc flash hazard warning label. This label must be an ANSI approved type and contain detailed information including: the arc flash hazard level, required personal protective equipment (PPE), arc flash boundary, and voltage.

What is the proper arc flash protection?

The required arc flash PPE will vary at different points in the electrical system based on the results of the arc flash study. The PPE categories range from 0 to 4 and Dangerous. The least amount of PPE being required at 0 and a full arc flash suit at 4, but the Dangerous category indicates that no amount of arc flash clothing or PPE will be sufficient to protect from the hazard level for energized work on that equipment or panel. You can read more about the specific PPE requirements per category in our blog (Category 0, Category 1, Category 2, Category 3, Category 4, Category Dangerous).

Who needs arc flash safety training?

All employees need a basic understanding of arc flash hazards, but the qualified employees doing energized work need complete training in the hazards and procedures of the electrical safety program. All employees will need an introduction to the program, the hazards, the labels, and what to expect when energized work is being done in their work areas. Qualified employees will need extensive training in how to read the arc flash labels, follow the procedures of the program, recognize hazards, choose and use the required PPE, and care for their arc flash equipment.


PowerSource LLC provides quality, accurate Arc Flash Hazard Studies for your facility backed by years of proven experience. We also provide help with safety policies and procedures. And we provide complete, interactive training for all your employees. PowerSource provides a total Arc Flash Compliance Program.

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