Top 10 Arc Flash Mistakes
Top 10 Mistakes of an Arc Flash Program
2. PURCHASING ARC FLASH CLOTHING WITHOUT PROPER REFERENCE
Arc Flash rated clothing is needed to to protect workers from an arc flash, but purchasing the wrong clothing prior to an arc flash analysis can be dangerous and expensive.
In many facilities, most of their equipment will have a Category 1 or 2 PPE rating. Based on this we recommend that if you need to purchase PPE immediately, purchase Category 2 equipment which cover your workers for most, but not all of the applications. You won’t know what equipment will require Category 3 or 4 until an arc flash analysis is completed. Call Martin Technical for a free consultation on a PPE program that will work for you facility if you haven’t yet conducted an arc flash analysis.
3. PURCHASING INSULATED TOOLS THAT ARE TOO BULKY FOR THE TASKS YOUR EMPLOYEES PERFORM.
NFPA 70E requires employees to use insulated tools when working inside the Limited Approach Boundary of exposed, energized parts where tools might make accidental contact with the energized parts. Insulated tools are easy to find, but many tool sets are designed for big equipment that linemen work on and are not well suited for industrial control panels and drives. Make sure the tools you select are not too big and bulky for the tasks in your plant.
4. FAILING TO KEEP UP WITH CHANGES TO THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM AFTER THE ARC FLASH IS COMPLETED
Completing an arc flash analysis is often a big and expensive task for most organizations. As an arc flash analysis is only good for the moment in time when the data was collected, it needs to be updated whenever major changes are done to the electrical distribution system or every five (5) years according to NFPA 70E. If the changes to the electrical system are not tracked over time, the organization will not know what has changed and will be forced to redo the entire analysis. Keeping track of changes over time identifies what areas of the analysis need to be updated, saving the organization considerable money.
5. FORGETTING THE ARC FLASH / ELECTRICAL SAFETY TRAINING
Not only is electrical safety training required by OSHA, but it’s an important part in fulfilling an arc flash analysis or electrical safety program. Once the labels are on, workers need to know how to properly understand the program and read the labels in addition to proper use care for their PPE. The need for every worker to understand electrical safety for their equipment and tasks in particular can not be over-stated.
6. SKIPPING THE SHORT CIRCUIT STUDY & PROTECTIVE DEVICE COORDINATION STUDY
Although short circuit and protective device information are required to conduct an arc flash, performing a study for these is not specified as part of arc flash requirements, leading many engineering firms to cut corners and save costs. However, if an electrical component isn’t properly rated for the available short circuit current, the protective device may fail and make the arc flash values obsolete. Further, without conducting these studies there is no way to recommend how to mitigate higher risk hazard categories to eliminate risk and costs. Getting an arc flash analysis report without these recommendations is like going to the doctor to find out what is wrong, but getting no advice on how you can prevent or cure the illness.
7. NOT IMPLEMENTING THE CORRECTIVE RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE REPORT
The difference between a risk hazard Category 1 and Category 4 can is a big difference and can mean the life of a worker. Recommendations to mitigate an arc flash hazard down to a lower category can be relatively simple and inexpensive, but often organizations fail to follow the recommendations of the report, leaving their workers exposed to a higher risk of harm than necessary.
8. FORGETTING ABOUT SHOCK HAZARDS
Today arc-flash hazards and Arc Flash Rated clothing are getting much attention, however fatality statistics still show that more workers die from electrocutions than from arc-flash. It may be that more people go to the hospital with arc-flash injuries than shock injuries, but shock is still the greater threat. So when purchasing PPE for electrical hazards, writing your electrical safety policies and training your workers, don’t forget about shock hazards. NFPA 70E does an excellent job of addressing shock hazards.
9. NOT IMPLEMENTING A PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE PROGRAM TO SUPPORT EQUIPMENT SAFETY
A good preventive maintenance program is a critical part in reducing the chances of an arc flash accident. By keeping on top of the condition of your electrical distribution equipment you can identify potential hazards before they become big risks and ensure that your electrical distribution system is working in proper order.
10. IMPLEMENTING POLICIES YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO ENFORCE.
It is a waste of time, money, and effort to develop policies that are not going to be enforced. Regulatory agencies will not be impressed by well-written policies; they are looking for results – a safe work place with no accidents. Facilities that have great policies, but have workers who respond, “Most of the time”, when asked if they always comply with the policies, are not achieving the level of safety needed. The facilities with the best safety results are those that have good safety policies with zero tolerance for non-compliance.