While electrical injuries as not as common as other job-related injuries, they are disproportionately dangerous, especially in the case of arc flash incidents. Approximately 2,000 American workers receive burns from arc flashes every year, and of the 350 annual workplace deaths attributed to electricity, approximately half are due to arc flash.

Due to the significant risk of fatalities and life-changing injuries, OSHA has strict requirements for electrical standards, requiring employers to prove they took reasonable precautions to prevent injury. Non-compliance results in substantial fines, in addition to the costs of medical expenses, downtime, insurance costs, and equipment replacement. One of the most important ways to remain in OSHA compliance is to perform an arc flash analysis.

What is Arc Flash Analysis?

Typically performed by independent arc flash analysis services, arc flash analysis calculates your facility’s risk of arc flash, identifies areas of key concern, and recommends ways to reduce the risk of electrical injuries in the workplace. You should consider hiring arc flash analysis services if:

  • changes have been made to your electrical distribution or utility systems.

  • facilities insurance is up for renewal and needs a safety audit

  • no arc flash analysis has been performed in the past three years.

  • no short-circuit and protective coordination studies have been completed in the last five years.

  • you are considering expanding or modifying your electrical distribution system.

While it is possible to perform an arc flash analysis in-house, most facilities lack the expertise to complete the process. Using independent arc flash analysis services also offers a fresh, unbiased evaluation of the state of your electrical systems.

Information and Documentation

To begin an arc flash analysis, all electrical drawings, floor plans, and riser one-line diagrams for the facility need to be compiled in one location. This will require field verification to ensure all one-line schematics are complete and accurate, and documenting and generating any missing information.

Much of the information needed can be found inside the equipment covers, including:

  • Cable type and length

  • KVA sizes

  • Manufacturer and equipment type

  • Protective devices

  • Sizes and settings

  • Transformer impedance values.

Equipment which requires field surveying includes, but is not limited to:

  • Cables

  • Circuit breakers

  • Fuses

  • Generators

  • Motors

  • Panels

  • Power lines

  • Single wire ground returns

  • Switches

  • Transformers

  • Utility equipment

What is Arc Flash Analysis Going to Involve?

Arc flash analysis services will perform the following functions:

  • Short Circuit Calculations: required to identify arcing fault levels throughout your power distribution system.

  • Protective Device Coordination: necessary to determine the duration of potential arcing faults.

  • Arc Flash Hazard Calculations: determines the incident energy level, flash hazard boundary, and the protective gear required for each location.

  • Unsafe Work Locations: identifies areas with incident energy levels in excess of present PPE ratings.

  • Arc Flash Hazard MitigationRequirements: recommends changes to system protection and operational procedures to decrease arc flash hazards.

  • Arc Flash Hazard Labels: arc flash analysis services will provide field labels detailing flash hazard boundary distances, incident energy levels, PPE categories, shock categories, and shock hazards for all equipment and hazardous locations.

All this information will be delivered to the facilities team in a comprehensive report containing all the information you need to comply with regulatory requirements.

Arc Flash Training

After arc flash analysis is complete, employees should be trained in arc flash safety procedures, so only qualified workers wearing appropriate PPE work on systems where the danger of arc flash exists. Regular review of safety procedures helps keep the risk of arc flash incidents to a minimum.