To ensure effective operations of a workplace, everyone must be aware of what they are doing and how it may affect those around them, and they must be prepared to accept the consequences. Electrical dangers such as shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast are essentially unavoidable in many types of workplaces, but proper training and safety strategies minimize the likelihood of injuries and fatalities.
By providing online and PC based software for short circuit calculations and arc flash hazard assessment, ARCAD INC. helps create a safer working environment for individuals who service electrical systems. ARCAD service includes resources and convenient tools that allow facility managers to perform short circuit incident energy, arc flash protection boundary, level of personal protection equipment (PPE) calculations, and to create customized arc flash warning labels.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an arc flash is "a dangerous condition associated with the release of energy caused by an electric arc." An arc flash is an explosion causing severe burns, injuries and/or death on the severity.
Currently there is a great deal of activity in the electrical industry concerning electrical safety. The focus lies on the two greatest electrical hazards to workers: shock and arc flash. The latter hazard arises whenever a worker carries out duties on or near exposed electric conductors or circuit parts that have not been placed in a safe work condition. If an arcing fault occurs the tremendous energy released in a fraction of a second can result in a serious injury or death. Statistics indicate that the explosive energy released during arc faults will send more than 2,000 workers to burn centers this year. Most of these people have not been properly, if at all, warned of the magnitude of the hazard. Although injuries from an arc blast are not as frequent as other injuries, their severity makes the cost to human life and to the industry as a whole much, much greater. The monetary cost alone can easily exceed 1 million dollars, and includes not only medical expenses, but the costs of equipment replacement, downtime and insurance.
There is now a great challenge in getting the message to the populace of the electrical industry so that safer system designs and safer work procedures and behaviors result. While the potential for an arc flash has existed for as long as plants have been powered by electricity, two factors have pushed arc flash prevention to the forefront. The first is a greater understanding of arc flash hazards and the risks they pose to personnel. Research into arc flash and arc blasts, including testing conducted by high power labs, has begun to quantify the powerful forces they unleash. The second factor is increased vigilance on the part of OHSA and NEC. OSHA is using the requirements of NFPA 70E, the industry's consensus standard for electrical safety, to judge whether an employer "acted reasonably" in protecting workers from arc flash hazards. In many cases, this has resulted in employers facing substantial fines after arc flash events. Employers have always had a moral obligation to their workers to minimize the chance of catastrophic arc flashes. But never before have their financial obligations to their stockholders and their legal obligations to OSHA been as great as they are today.
To this date workers continue to sustain life altering injuries or death. In U.S.A., NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workers is the foremost consensus standard on electrical safety. CSA Z462 Workplace Electrical Safety Standard is the most often utilized in the industry to perform arc-flash hazard analysis in Canada. The NFPA 70E and CSA Z462 formulas are based on incident energy testing performed and calculations conducted for a selected range of prospective fault currents, system voltages, physical configurations, etc. The new edition of the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) has a rule that improves safety for workers by requiring special field marking of electrical equipment:
" 1) Electrical equipment such as Switchboards, panel boards, industrial control panels, meter shock enclosures and motor control centers that are installed in other than dwelling units and are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing or maintenance, while emerged shall be field marked to warn persons of potential electric shock and arc flash hazards.
2) The marking referred to Sub-rule (1) shall be located so as to be clearly visible to persons before examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance of the equipment.
For anytime when work must be done on or near energized electrical equipment a flash hazard must be completed.
1) The incident energy exposure to select the level of PPE needed to complete the task.
2) The flash protection boundary to know the approach point to the equipment where PPE will be required. "
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