Arc Flash Regulations
In the United States, arc flash safety is regulated by OSHA 29 CFR-1910, subpart S. This standard defines the qualifications needed to work on energized equipment, and states "Safety related work practices shall be employed to prevent electric shock or other injuries resulting from either direct or indirect electrical contacts...." OSHA 29 CFR-1910 refers to the standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for specific work practices. These standards are contained in NFPA 70E, described below.
Arc flash labeling in Canada will be governed by CSA-Z462, which will be available in 2009.
NFPA 70 (NEC) and NFPA 70E
NFPA 70 is the National Electric Code (NEC). Section 110.16 reads:
Warning Labels: "Switchboards, panel boards, industrial control panels, and motor control centers that are in other than dwelling occupancies and are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized shall be field marked to warn qualified persons of potential electric arc flash hazards. The marking shall be located so as to be clearly visible to qualified persons before examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance of the equipment."
Ensure OSHA compliance with the DuraLabel PRO NFPA 70E Arc Flash Label Starter Kit
NFPA 70E, "Electrical Safety in the Workplace," provides the specific steps employers must take to be in compliance with OSHA regulations. Required procedures include:
- Safety programs with defined responsibilities.
- Calculations for the degree of electrical safety hazard. Hazard levels include approach boundaries and available incident energy. Read about arc-flash warning labels for more information about these terms.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers. PPE is required if workers may be exposed to electric discharge of 1.2 cal/cm2 or greater.
- Standard for training workers. To be qualified to work on live electrical equipment, a worker must have specific training on the equipment to be serviced, as well as general training on the hazards of working with energized equipment.
- Standards for tools and equipment. All tools used in the vicinity of energized equipment must be non-conductive.
- Warning labels on equipment. The 2009 edition of NFPA 70E will include a new section 130.3(C) requiring either the available incident energy or the required PPE to appear on arc flash warning labels. This is a new requirement. Existing labels that do not include this information should be replaced.
Techniques and devices such as passive ultrasonic analysis, current limiting fuses, or infrared scans are excellent tools that can help to prevent arc flash injuries, but they do not meet NFPA requirements or provide full protection against arc flash.
IEEE Standard 1584-2002, "Guide for Electrical Safety Regulation," provides companies with the information and formulas necessary to calculate safety zones and necessary PPE for work with energized electrical equipment. This information will be required on arc flash labels by the 2009 version of NFPA 70E.
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