Arc Flash Training and Electrical Safety
OSHA standard 29CFR1910 Section 332 says that employees facing higher than normal electrical exposure risk must receive arc blast awareness and arch flash, or flashover, training. Companies must comply with OSHA law, and failure to achieve compliance may result in the assessment of penalties and fines to the employer firm. More importantly, training is intended to protect employees who work with electrical elements to prevent serious injuries or death.
Safety training is typically presented around NFPA (70E: Standard for Electrical Safety) and OSHA’s regulation 29CFR1910, Subpart S. Training should explain federal regulations in place to protect workers and ensure their safety as well as the history of electrical safety. Trainers should stress the many benefits of accident prevent and the potential consequences of working without the OSHA regulations in mind.
Reasons to Train Personnel
Employers with construction personnel or skilled maintenance workers who interact with live electrical circuitry should receive electrical safety training. This training should assist workers in gaining increased awareness of potential arc flash dangers. Arc flash training is essential.
Many employers report that electrical safety training can be accomplished by employees in just a few hours. That said, it’s important for employees who work with electrical circuitry to take the time necessary to understand the essential safety standards put forth by OSHA and the National Electrical Code.
OSHA and NFPA Laws Regarding Electric Safety
NFPA 70 of the National Electrical Code has long been considered the standard for electrical equipment installation in the U.S. All licensed electricians learn about the law and most study it in trade school or in an apprenticeship. There’s no grey area about electrical installation issues. It’s either done to NFPA standard or not.
Conversely, Section E of NFPA 70 (Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace) isn’t as widely accepted as “code,” although OSHA states that businesses and their workers must comply with electric safety standards put forth in it.
Perhaps some skilled electricians who acquired their skills before Section E was passed into law resist embracing it. As tempting as it may be for experienced construction or maintenance staff to pass off the law because he or she hasn’t had an accident yet, it’s important for employers to present and train all staff in the law. Failing to do so can have serious physical and financial consequences to workers and employers.
Supervisors of these staff must insist on keeping and following safety rules as dictated under NFPA 70E. Training is one of the most time and cost-efficient ways to reinforce the law and the rules associated with it.
Electrical Safety and Awareness Training
OSHA clearly details the dangers and risks associated with arc flash. Training employees in OSHA and NFPA law can be addressed separately or as part of a larger educational program that addresses each employer’s needs.
Some firms offer online safety training modules as well as classroom and hands-on instruction. Obviously, online training allows the employee to study and grasp the law at his or her own pace. Online training can also serve as a refresher or reference tool for the employee to access at any time.
Any staff in contact with electric current or circuits should be trained to understand both arc blast and arc flash risks. Some employers include all staff in electrical safety training. Increasing staff’s safety awareness is positive for all involved.
Equipment Labeling and Arc Flash Analysis
NFPA 70E also says that the employer’s electrical equipment must be properly labeled and regularly assessed. All electrical equipment in use other than in personal dwelling spaces must be properly marked with arc flash warning labels according to requirements established by NFPA 70E (2012).
Although labeling equipment under the law can’t prevent an arc event at an employer firm, doing so provides workers with the information necessary to protect or lessen the potential for injuries should an arc event occur.
Article 130.5 also details the importance of arc flash hazard analysis and “personal protective equipment” used by workers in the arc flash boundary.
Employers need an expert independent evaluator to perform analysis and power system studies on a regular basis as required by law.
NFPA 70E compliance is an ongoing requirement for employers. Engaging experts with electric power systems and safety experience is a must to keep business operations running smoothly and without safety incidents.