While professional electricians are cognizant of the potential dangers that come with conducting business on or nearby live electrical equipment, most people are not. Unfortunately, there only needs to be a single incident in order for an arc flash explosion to occur. Moreover, if the proper steps have not been taken to prevent or mitigate these events, they can be fatal or they may cause severe and disfiguring burns. Proper procedure and adequate amounts of training can limit these and many other risks. Following are several ways for companies to get started.
Ensure Regulatory Compliance
For growing companies, there are countless reasons why ensuring regulatory compliance must be a top priority. Foremost among these is the fact that the penalties and costs of failing to do so can be financially devastating. In the most basic and practical sense, however, maintaining compliance is ultimately the surest way to keep employees safe. In terms of arc flash explosions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes the legal guidelines that all operations with a risk of arc flash explosions must adhere to. Conversely, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows companies how to implement an electrically safe working environment so that the risk of arc flash explosions can be effectively minimized. Thus, businesses can use NFPA guidelines to both ensure OSHA compliance and to limit the frequency, severity, and impact of workplace incidences.
Invest Routine Hazard Analysis
An arc flash hazard analysis is performed to determine the amount of available incident energy at all electrical devices across the entire electrical system, particularly those devices that people will be working on or around. This study also determines the boundaries at which workers can no longer be harmed by arc flash events when using specific forms of equipment. These calculations are performed for all circuits and at every location or station at which people typically work, including those areas that are often classified as being low-risk. More importantly, this testing additionally gives companies the opportunity to identify equipment and areas that are especially high in risk, and to take concerted steps to minimize these risks.
Determine The Right PPE
Given that countless companies are becoming increasingly reliant upon electrical equipment for the performance of routine operations, it is no longer enough for employees to have general, personal protective equipment (PPE) that’s only specific to the needs and nuances of their individual industries. It is also important for PPE to be reflective of the work environment itself, and of the risks that are directly associated with arc flash events. While equipping team members with the best PPE for their roles and physical work stations will not actually prevent an arc flash event from occurring, it can definitely limit the likelihood of fatal events as well as the likelihood of severe burns and other potentially disfiguring and debilitating injuries.