Understanding Arc Flash Assessment For Industrial Safety

arc flash assessment

For any industrial setup, arc flashes pose the most dangerous electrical hazards. In essence, arc flash is a sudden release of electrical energy through the air due to a fault in the electrical system. This occurrence causes an explosion which can result in severe injuries, fatalities, and account for financial losses due to substantial damage to equipment. Thus, conducting an arc flash assessment becomes imperative as this assessment makes sure that the workplace safety is not compromised and compliance with regulatory standards is also fulfilled. In this blog, we are about to discuss the nature of arc flash threats, the importance of effective arc flash management. In addition, we are also going to shed light on the necessary electrical analyses prescribed by NFPA 70E, NFPA 70, and IEEE 1584.

The threat of arc flashes

The arc flash threats can lead to a catastrophe since an intense gets released that can reach temperatures of up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is four times hotter than the surface of the sun. As obvious as it is, the severe heat cause serious burns, and often results in life-threatening injuries. In addition, the pressure wave generated by the arc flash only adds to the chances of further injury.  The explosion in arc flash is intense and can project shrapnel at high speeds, posing a risk of blunt force trauma.

Since an industrial set up has plenty of robust and complex electrical systems with barely any downtime, the risk of arc flashes is considerably higher. More often than not, it is equipment failure, human error, and lack of maintenance which come out as common causes of arc flash incidents. Without proper arc flash management, these threats can escalate, leading to catastrophic outcomes for both personnel and equipment.

The role of arc flash assessment

Arc Flash Assessment is a crucial parameter and major preventive measure which mitigates the risks associated with arc flashes. With thorough assessment, industries can easily identify the potential as well recurrent potential hazards, check for the risk levels for analysis, and implement all the safety measures and tools to prevent arc flashes. An effective arc flash assessment includes the following steps:

Data Collection: For data collection, the arc flash assessment team collects detailed information about the electrical distribution system. They even procure single-line diagrams, equipment specifications, and protective device settings.

System Modeling: By creating a model of the electrical system, our arc flash assessment team analyze the flow of electrical current and identify potential fault locations.

Incident Energy Analysis: It is important to calculate the amount of energy released during an arc flash event as it is a vital point in determining the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and safe working distances.

Labeling: In order to intimate or to prohibit admission of workers in a particular zone of the industrial setup, equipment marking with flash warning labels is used. They indicate the incident energy level, required PPE, and other safety information.

Mitigation Strategies: The arc flash assessment teams such as those of Trident Techlabs do not provide a post-hazard analysis but also help in implementing strategies to reduce arc flash hazards, such as upgrading equipment, improving maintenance practices. They also provide relevant training to the workers on flash hazards and safety.

Compliance with NFPA and IEEE Standards

For an effective arc flash management, compliance with industry standards is necessary. Our team of arc flash management adhere to the NFPA 70E, NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code), and IEEE 1584 which provide comprehensive guidelines for conducting Arc Flash Assessments and ensuring electrical safety.

NFPA 70E underlines the safety requirements for electrical workplaces. The guideline is also a mandate to perform an Arc Flash Assessment to identify and mitigate electrical hazards. The NFPA 70E standard makes is compulsory to for employers to provide appropriate PPE, establish safe work practices. Also, the onus is on the employer to train employees on electrical safety.

NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code) is a directive which acts as a foundation for safe electrical installations. The code includes requirements for grounding, over current protection, and safe wiring practices. These practices are critical for preventing arc flash incidents.

IEEE 1584 is a standard that offers a detailed methodology in arc flash assessments. The standard is instrumental in calculating the incident energy and arc flash boundaries. In IEEE 1584, formulas and guidelines are put to use for performing precise arc flash calculations based on system parameters. If IEEE 1584 is practiced diligently, it can certainly and accurately assess the risk and determine the necessary protective measures.

The importance of regular assessments

To maintain a safe environment in industrial set up which has high voltage heavy electronics equipment, regular arc flash assessments are the need of the hour. One has to realize the fact that electrical systems evolve over time and there can be major changes or tweaks in load, equipment upgrades, and modifications. Therefore, a periodic assessment nullifies the risks and enhances the safety measures remain which is likely to be effective and up-to-date.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *