Top 10 Mistakes of an Arc Flash Program
1. deciding not to implement a program because of the cost or waiting for an accident to happen
Completing an arc flash analysis can be an expensive proposition, but it is a small investment compared to the potential injuries or death it can cause for workers and the cumalative costs of the equipment, downtime, fines, insurance and legal problems. The bottom line is that there is no defense for "it cost too much money" to keep our workers safe for any court or OSHA inspector. OSHA has been tightening it's grip on organizations that have not complied, including millions of dollars in fines against the US Post Office.
By doing an arc flash analysis today, you will avoid that electrically related accident that causes grief, suffering, financial settlements, business losses, investigations, and citations.
2. Purchasing flame-resistant (FR) clothing without proper reference
FR clothing is needed to to protect workers from an arc flash, but purchasing the clothing prior to an arc flash analysis and without any reference to the type of protection requried for each piece of equipment can be dangerous and expensive.
You don’t want clothing that is too light-weight exposing your employees to a hazardous injury nor do you want to burden them with wearing too much clothing that can overheat them or hinder their visibility or movement. Until an arc flash analysis is properly done, it’s almost impossible to tell what the ideal PPE is for your employees. Furthermore, arc-flash hazards can often be reduced or in some cases even eliminated by making changes in fuses or circuit breakers, possibly avoiding the need for heavier PPE.
Most facilities will find that 80% of their equipment is rated Category 0, 1 or 2, so you are safe in having Category 2 PPE as daily wear. 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 task for most organizations and once completed, they believe they go on to the next project and put the arc flash report on the shelf. An arc flash analysis is only good for the moment in time when the data was collected and should be updated whenever major changes are done to the electrical distribution system or every five (5) years. If the changes to the electrical system are not documented, the organization will not know what has changed, will have equipment with the wrong labels on it and will be forced to redo the entire arc flash analysis in five years. A best practices measure should be taken to document equipment that has changed and have that equipment updated on a periodic basis.
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
A short circuit study and protecive device coordination study are not required to get the results of an arc flash analysis and create the mandated labels, however, 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 FR 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 maintenanc 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.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation on How We Can Help You with Your Arc Flash Hazard Analysis & Labeling Needs.