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What You Need to Know About Arc Flash Safety

Arc Flash

Pace Technologies Inc. has been engaged in the practice of testing, commissioning and maintenance of high, medium, and low voltage power systems in Western Canada, the Northwest Territories and even international locations since 1989. As your electrical distribution experts, our certified electrical technicians, technologists, engineers, and imageing technicians evaluate, recommend, and report after inspecting and the testing of individual components and system operations to ensure that your power systems operate within or above the specifications outlined by owners and engineers.

At Pace Technologies Inc., our goal is to provide you – our customers and business partners – with a condition-based service strategies that not only meets your budgetary needs, but increases the safety for your people, plant, and equipment. In the last several years, for a variety of businesses and job sites, arc-flash hazards have become a top safety issue around electric power generation, transmission and distribution; and electrical protective equipment. To help you understand the dangers, we’ve pulled together some information on arc-flash, and ways to protect yourself against it.

During an arc-flash, electric current leaves its intended path and travels to the ground, or from one conductor to another through the air. Factors that can cause an arc-flash include equipment failure, dust, dropped tools, and corrosion. Injuries can be devastating: arc flash temperatures can reach 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit; can produce noise reaching 140 decibels; and produce molten metal shrapnel.

According to statistics, between five and ten arc flash accidents causing serious injuries or fatality in North America every day. If a victim survives, they often have lifetime health concerns as a result of the accident; which is devastating for both the victim and their family. The financial consequences for employers are also very serious and will ultimately have significant direct and indirect expenses, including financial losses due to manufacturing process interruptions caused by equipment damage.

In April 2014, United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule on electric power generation, transmission and distribution, and electrical protective equipment. The rule has new or revised requirements for electrical safety, including arc-flash protection.

Under the rule, employers must protect their workers from hazards posed by flames and electric arc in the following ways:

  • Identify employees who will be working around these hazards;
  • Estimate the incident heat energy of any electric-arc hazard to which a worker would be exposed; and,
  • With certain exceptions, ensure workers exposed to such hazards wear protective clothing and other protective equipment with an arc rating equal to or greater than the estimated heat energy.

Likewise, a new version of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E went into effect July 29, 2014. NFPA 70E requires most personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet requirements of certain American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) standards, and it will continue to evolve as more is learned about arc-flash. One notable change in the new version of NFPA 70E is the shift in terminology from hazard analysis to risk assessment – defined as a process that identifies hazards, estimates potential severity and likelihood of injury or damage to health, and determines if protective measures are required.

Arc-flash Hazard is a subject that is undergoing increased discussion and scrutiny in today’s safety-conscious environment. The intent of the standards in this area is to provide an increased level of safety for the electrical worker. Fortunately, for those in the industry, Pace Technologies Inc. is also a supplier of arc flash protective clothing.

Safety at Pace Technologies Inc. unites Commitment, Responsibility and Pride for our Employees, Customers and the Environment. If you have questions about arc-flash or any other electrical safety issue for your power system contact Pace Technologies Inc. today in Calgary at 403-508-0770; Edmonton at 780-450-0404; Fort McMurray at 780-743-4309; Kelowna, BC at 250-712-0091; and Santiago, Chile at (02) 2559-5669.

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