Arc Flash Program
By Steve Hudgik
An Arc Flash Program is an overall plan that covers all aspects of arc flash safety and compliance. The purpose of an arc flash program is to keep those working on or near an electrical system, safe. The arc flash program, through a variety of methods, ensures workers and contractors follow the safety rules related to electrical work.
The most important safety principle underlying all electrical work is to avoid working on energized equipment. This is the foundation of an arc flash program. Electrical equipment should be de-energized before someone works on it, unless one of the following conditions exists:
- De-energizing will result in new or increased hazards or risks.
- De-energizing is not possible due to operational limits or the design of the equipment.
- The energized equipment does not present a hazard, for example, it operates at a low voltage.
Real-world advice and insight into preventing arc flash accidents.
An Arc Flash Program is typically defined in a written document. That document will usually include information such as:
- A description of the overall purpose of an Arc Flash Program.
- Definitions of key terms.
- Establishes who does what. Responsibilities are defined by department and job title.
- Describes the training that is provided. Training required by the NFPA/NEC code for anyone who is exposed to an electrical hazard. The type of training varies based on whether the worker is a "qualified" or "unqualified" person.
- Provides the work rules that apply to electrical work. This includes Lockout/Tag Out procedures, the procedure for testing to ensure a circuit is de-energized, the use of PPE, boundaries, required grounding, and the procedures for obtaining an energized work permit.
- Provides the rules and procedures that apply to contract employees, contractors and vendors.
- Establishes the alerting techniques that will be used. These are the barricades, signs, and if needed, attendants who warn people away from the hazardous area.
- The written document typically will provide copies of forms such as the Engerized Work Permit form.
- Establishes method to determine arc flash boundaries. This is typically called an "Arc Flash Hazard Analysis." It determines the amount of energy that would result from an arcing fault in your electrical equipment.
- Provides the labeling standards that will be followed. Arc flash labels are required by NFPA 70E, and are an important part of an arc flash program. Having consistent labeling, based on an established facility-wide standard is important for effective communication of hazard information.
The Arc Flash Program document should be available for anyone to read at any time. Regularly scheduled retraining, which includes reviewing the requirements of your Arc Flash Program, should be conducted as needed. For example, a review of your Arc Flash Program might be appropriate just before the start of a major maintenance outage.
Labeling is a key component of an Arc Flash Program. The NFPA 70E requires labels and that certain information must be on your arc flash labels. However, it does not specify label design. With a DuraLabel printer you can make arc flash labels that meet whatever design requirement you have. Call 1-888-326-9244 to get information about DuraLabel printers. Ask for some free sample labels and ask about DuraLabel Arc Flash Labeling Kits.