Because arc flashes are a serious hazard for many industrial workers, strict OSHA arc flash requirements and safety regulations have been put into place.
OSHA describes an arc flash as “a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or the ground. The results are often violent, and when a human is near the arc flash, serious injury and even death can occur.”
The OSHA arc flash standard is one of the most important safety guidelines for anyone who works with electrical equipment. As a result, non-compliance penalties are significantly high.
The purpose of this article is not just to give you information about the OSHA arc flash safety requirements but also to provide tips on how to comply with these standards so that you can avoid those very costly fines or litigation.
How To Safeguard Your Employees
OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1) states: “The employer shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).”
It is your responsibility to conduct an arc flash hazard analysis to identify the needed PPE as the employer. Then, ensure staff are trained to know when they should wear the appropriate PPE, such as when working in areas with potential electrical hazards, such as arc flash hazards.
Types of PPE employees wear can include:
For optimal employee protection, PPE should be made from materials appropriate for each situation. An example of this is using leather over the top to cover rubber insulating material. Similarly, insulated tools should be used in conjunction with electrical protective equipment.
The employer should regularly ensure that all PPE is fully functioning. Broken materials should be replaced immediately. Additionally, the PPE should fit each employee comfortably and appropriately.
How To Indicate Arc Flash Hazards To Minimize Risk of Injury
Once you have conducted an arc flash study, you can determine the magnitude of an arc blast. You can also identify the arc flash boundary.
Knowing what the arc flash hazards are, you can put systems in place to reduce the risk of injury.
OSHA’s General Duty Clause: Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires that each employer should provide a “place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Therefore, you should make use of warnings such as:
These should be used to protect employees from electrical hazards that can cause injuries such as an electrical shock or burn.
In conjunction, the following should be used:
These can limit access to areas with uninsulated energized conductors or circuit parts.
Live parts should also be enclosed and not exposed. If they are exposed for maintenance or repair, this should be addressed to protect unqualified people from contact with the live parts.
Why Staff Training on Electrical Safety Is Important
The emphasis on arc flash safety is to reduce the risk of injury significantly.
Things that could result from an arc flash include:
Putting all the effort into safety signs and labelling is also ineffective if your employees don’t understand or are not trained to be aware of the risks and safety signs.
- understand the risks, and
- understand the safety signs.
This is what is called a knowledge gap.
There are two sets of employees at your workplace: those who are qualified to work on electrical circuits and those who work alongside them on energized equipment.
Appropriate electrical training needs to be provided for both parties on the arc flash hazard of electrical equipment.
If you’re experiencing a knowledge gap, that’s often due to the:
Not only can we provide the appropriate level of training to solve for this knowledge gap, but we can also help:
Correct electrical safety measures can reduce the risk of arc flash injury. In turn, so can the appropriate level of training.
Not only can the appropriate safety procedures ensure the safety of your staff, but they can also ensure the safety of your insurance policy not increasing.
Let us help you identify the arc flash hazard, put the appropriate procedures in place regarding electrical equipment, warning signs and, and allow us to train your staff on all of the above adequately.
Contact Insure Compliance and talk to us about how we can help reduce your arc flash risk.
Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this guide is accurate. You should note, however, that the information is intended as a guide only, providing an overview of general information available to businesses. This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive source of information and should not be seen to constitute legal, safety or business advice. You should, where necessary, seek your own advice for any issues raised in your affairs.