Written by Steve Hudgik
Many industries are now including power generation as a part of what happens within their facility. Waste heat, for example, can be used for power generation that reduces the facility's electric power costs.
Power generation, and the associated need for switches and breakers, brings with it the potential for arc flash hazards. An arc flash assessment includes evaluating your response to these arc flash hazards and assuring the appropriate hazard prevention, control and protection methods and systems are in place.
OSHA provides a free online eTool that is helpful during an arc flash assessment for power generation and transmission equipment. It covers arc flashes (which include arc flash burn and blast hazards), electric shock, falls, and thermal burn hazards that can cause injury and death.
The purpose of the OSHA eTool is to inform employers of their obligations to implement the safe work practices and worker training requirements of OSHA's Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Standard, 29 CFR 1910.269.
The OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269 standard, also simply known as "269" is a complex set of requirements that can be technically challenging. The key parts of this standard are covered by the OSHA eTool, with a focus on clarifying the parts of the standard that are often questioned or misunderstood. This is done by explaining the "269" requirements, referencing OSHA interpretation letters and related industry consensus standards such as IEEE and NESC, and highlighting some best practices.
The "269" Standard applies to the operations and maintenance of equipment used for the generating, transmitting, or distributing electric power and for which only "qualified employees" have access. Unqualified employees are not permitted to work on electric power generation, distribution, or transmission installations, and the "269" standard does not apply to unqualified employees near such installations. However, the "269" standard does require employers to protect unqualified employees from contact with those installations. For instance, the "269" standard requires, under certain conditions, that employers post signs to warn "269" unqualified employees to keep out of particular rooms and spaces in substations and generation facilities.
The OSHA eTool can be accessed at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/electric_power/index.html