Answers to Questions About an Arc Flash Study

Posted by Wendy Smith on Mar 28, 2017 6:00:00 AM


In my last post, I talked about the NFPA 70E standard and Arc Flash. I mentioned that Optimation has a staff of engineers that perform Arc Flash Studies to help ensure that our customers comply with the standard. OSHA requires that the employer provide its workers a safe work environment free from known hazards. Electric shock and arc flash are known electrical hazards recognized by OSHA.

NFPA 70E, “Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace” is the industry recognized electrical safety standard that identifies safe work practices and procedures for employee protection. OSHA has stated that complying with NFPA 70E will satisfy compliance with the OSHA standard relating to electrical safety. One of the components of this standard is the use of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). The employee must know the level of electrical hazard that they will be exposed to in order to determine the adequate personal protective equipment. An arc flash study will provide the information necessary for the employee to make that determination.

This has generated some questions about the arc flash study:

How long does it take to perform a study and associated analysis for an electrical system?

The length of time it takes to complete an arc flash study varies with the complexity of the electrical system being studied. The study could range from one week to many months to complete.

Can the electrical system remain running when system data is gathered?

One of the main components of an arc flash analysis is the gathering of electrical system data. This is necessary so that the electric system can be modeled in a computer software program. The system data can be gathered while the electrical system remains operational. There is no interruption of power.

Are electrical drawings required in order to complete an arc flash analysis?

Electrical drawings are not required, but they help immensely.  All circuits have to be followed from source to load, so existing single line diagrams help in understanding the electric system.

What are the main reasons a business should consider completing an arc flash analysis and associated labeling?

Compliance with NFPA70E requires planning, administrative measures, training, and equipment. It requires that procedures and processes be established that promote the safety of workers from electrical hazards. It brings the electrical hazards to the forefront. It promotes increased safety measures for people exposed to the hazards. It shows that a company believes in safety and is working to make the workplace as safe as possible for workers.

If a person is hurt from an arc flash incident, is there a possibility that OSHA will fine the business owner?

If a person is injured from an arc flash incident, OSHA will be notified and they will investigate the cause. If a business owner has not followed through with compliance with NFPA70E they are in violation of OSHA. Electrical hazards are a known hazard, and OSHA requires that employees provide a workplace that is free of known hazards. It is highly probable that OSHA would fine an owner that has not complied with NFPA70E.

Is your company at risk of being out of compliance?  Schedule your Arc Flash study with Optimation!

Optimation can provide the support services necessary to complete the arc flash study. The study will be conducted under the guidelines of the most recent edition of NFPA 70E. The rigorous mathematical calculations will be performed using an industry approved software package. The arc flash study will be conducted and the results interpreted under the guidance of a Registered Professional Engineer in New York State.  

Keep your workplace safe!

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