The importance of a company’s workplace safety starts at the top. When business owners and managements prioritize onsite safety and preventative measures, their employees are likely to, as well. Not only is workplace safety imperative to the wellbeing of onsite staff, but it also plays a critical role in protecting your property from preventable damage and disaster.
Especially at a large corporation, attention to safety details is a must—so much so that there’s an organization to verify the health and safety of your company, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA minds the electrical safety of companies, too, including their protection against arc flashes. Your business must invest in an arc flash analysis to reduce the risk of an arc flash and all its potential damage. Though arc flash consultants ought to perform these complex analyses, you can review the steps to complete an arc flash analysis, the importance of getting one, and OSHA’s arc flash requirements, to gain familiarity with the process.
What Is an Arc Flash?
An arc flash is the term used when poor electrical resistance connections within an electrical system project unwanted electrical discharge through the atmosphere and toward another voltage phase or the ground. In return, the electric system’s environmental temperature and pressure rise significantly. Too much heat and pressure result in what’s known as an “arc blast,” or an electrical explosion.
The Detrimental Dangers of Arc Flashes
If the idea of an electrical explosion isn’t enough to convince you to invest in an arc flash analysis, here are a few unfortunate outcomes that may come from an arc blast occurrence.
- Electrical fires
- Pressure waves
- Flying shrapnel
Each of these effects of an arc flash can cause serious harm to employees within its boundaries—in dire cases, death—and considerable damage to your property. Because these types of explosions happen without notice, it’s vital to adopt as many preventative measures as possible.
The Most Common Causes of Arc Flash in Electrical Systems
For something so detrimental to your business, you’re probably curious as to what causes an arc flash. Below, Dreiym Engineering lists the most common causes of arc flash in corporate electrical systems:
- Faulty electrical equipment and accessories
- Hindered insulation
- Inadequate installation and maintenance
- High-voltage cables
- Static electricity
- Electrical equipment encounters with water
- Corroded cables
- Exposed live wires or conductors
- Loose connections
The OSHA, Arc Flashes, and the Evolution of Requirements
Upholding safety standards for your employees isn’t simply an altruistic move—it’s a legally required one. The OSHA strives to ensure that all companies provide adequate working conditions for their staff through training, outreach, education, and assistance.
Should your company violate any of the health and safety requirements set by OSHA, it becomes subject to steep fines, a damning reputation, and potentially even time in prison. In addition to the OSHA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the National Electrical Safety Code also have their demands for businesses to abide by:
OSHA Standards for Arc Flash
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1)
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.332(b)(1)
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.333(b)(2)(iv)(B)
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.335(a)(1)(i)
- OSHA 29 CFR 1910.335(a)(1)(v)
NFPA Code 70E’s Articles That Apply for Arc Flash
- Article 130.5
- Article 130.7
NESC Articles That Apply To Arc Flash
- Article 110.16(A)
- Article 110.16(B)
The IEEE 1584 is The Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations. It has evolved since its inception in 2002 to ensure arc flash analyses’ accuracy. The IEEE 1584 provides helpful information for identifying electrode configurations, voltage ranges, enclosure sizes, and other necessary measurements for the evaluation.
What Are the Steps To Completing an Arc Flash Analysis?
With an appreciation for the preventative necessity of an arc flash analysis, Dreiym Engineering now looks at the steps to complete an arc flash analysis that electrical professionals typically follow for an accurate assessment.
Gather Existing Electrical Layouts
The first step to any arc flash analysis is gathering all of the existing electrical layout documents. You’ll need to relay documents such as blueprint drawings of floor plans and riser one-line diagrams to the team or individual performing the analysis.
If you currently do not have electrical layout documentation, you’re going to need to have it made. Every thorough field survey requires accurate documentation of electrical one-lines. An electrical one-line document serves as a road map of your facility’s electrical distribution, a must-have for a successful arc flash analysis.
Get Your Layout Documentation Field Verified
Any outlines and drawings must get verified before getting processed by arc flash analysis software. To verify the documents, professionals will perform a field survey of each site that’s getting assessed.
In order to produce the most accurate electrical one-line, electrical consultants will then note any missing information on the original one-line. For a proper inspection, you should remove all equipment covers. Consultants must be able to see the equipment’s manufacturer, size, settings, type, required cables and cable lengths, impedance values, and more. It’s not often that facilities have to de-energize their devices for this step.
Upload Documentation Into Arc Flash Analysis Software
Once the one-line is appropriately updated, consultants can submit the documents into an arc flash analysis software. Electrical consultants will perform the following tests with the trusted software.
- Perform a Short Circuit Assessment
- Complete a Coordination Study
- Evaluate for Arc Flash
Comprehensive System Evaluation
Once each analysis is executed, your hired professional will create and apply arc flash labels for your equipment. In addition, you and they will train staff on what the labels mean and proper electrical safety procedures.
The Benefits of Investing in an Arc Flash Analysis for Your Company
- Maximized safety of your employees and any facility visitors.
- Optimal protection of company equipment and property.
- Helps your company maintain compliance with NFPA, NESC, and OSHA, reducing the risk of violations and their fines.
At Dreiym Engineering, we are committed to maximizing your facility’s safety. We have a variety of electrical services to choose from, on top of corrosion and forensic evaluations. Whatever your needs, our team of consultants is here to provide. Contact us today to learn more.