Arc Flash Study & Risk Assessments

Arc Flash Studies

Arc flash incidents pose significant risks in industrial settings, potentially causing severe injuries or fatalities to workers and damage to equipment. To address these hazards, maintenance, and facility managers are increasingly seeking arc flash studies as part of their compliance efforts with NFPA 70E® requirements. Allied Reliability understands the importance of ensuring a safe working environment and offers comprehensive arc flash and short circuit study services to assist clients in identifying and mitigating arc flash hazards effectively.

Understanding Arc Flash Hazards

Arc flash hazards present in electrical systems can lead to devastating consequences if not properly addressed. Electric shock and arc flash incidents are among the most common electrical injuries encountered in the workplace. Electric shock occurs when contact with live parts allows current to pass through the body, potentially causing severe harm, especially if vital organs are affected.

Arc flash incidents also result from electrical currents passing through the air, generating intense heat reaching temperatures as high as 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit. These high temperatures can ignite clothing and cause severe burns to workers in proximity to the arc flash event. Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and adherence to safe work practices are crucial to mitigate these risks.

arc flash assessment

When is an Arc Flash Study Required?

In critical environments like commercial buildings, industrial plants, manufacturing facilities, and healthcare centers, ensuring the safety of workers and property is paramount. Arc flash hazards demand proactive mitigation strategies. Here's when an arc flash study becomes crucial for your facility:

Mandatory Compliance:

  • NFPA 70E® Standard: The National Fire Protection Association mandates an arc flash hazard analysis every five years (Section 130.5). This reassesses potential dangers and guides safety protocols.
  • OSHA Regulations: While not explicitly requiring studies, OSHA's General Duty Clause (29 CFR 1910.132) emphasizes protecting workers from known hazards. Arc flash falls under this category, making studies essential for compliance.

Beyond Compliance:

  • Significant System Changes: Any major alterations to your electrical system, like adding/removing equipment, changing wiring configurations, or altering protective device settings, trigger the need for a fresh study. These modifications can alter arc flash risks, requiring updated assessments.
  • Enhanced Safety Measures: Even if your study meets the five-year mark, consider revisiting it if you've experienced near misses or safety concerns related to electrical equipment. Proactive evaluation helps identify and address potential issues.
  • Insurance Requirements: Some insurance companies may require up-to-date arc flash studies as a condition for coverage. This ensures informed risk management and reduces potential liabilities.

Benefits of Arc Flash Studies Beyond Compliance

While arc flash studies are essential for regulatory compliance with NFPA 70E®, their benefits extend far beyond mere adherence to standards. Companies can significantly enhance workplace safety, minimize equipment downtime, and reduce insurance costs by conducting comprehensive arc flash studies.

Understanding and mitigating arc flash hazards through detailed risk assessments and appropriate protective measures not only protect workers from injuries but also safeguard critical assets and infrastructure. Moreover, proactive management of arc flash risks demonstrates a commitment to employee welfare and fosters a culture of safety within the organization.

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Overview of the Arc Flash Study Process

An arc flash risk assessment comprises several critical steps to assess and mitigate arc flash hazards within a facility accurately:

  • Data Collection: Gathering pertinent information about the power system, including electrical equipment specifications, single-line diagrams, and fault current data.
  • Short Circuit Calculations: Analyzing the available short-circuit current levels to determine the maximum potential fault currents in the system.
  • Incident Energy Calculations: Estimating the incident energy levels at various points within the electrical system to assess the severity of potential arc flash events.
  • Arc Flash Boundary Determination: Defining the safe distance from the arc flash source where the incident energy falls below the threshold for causing second-degree burns.
  • PPE Selection: Recommending appropriate personal protective equipment based on the calculated incident energy levels and arc flash boundary distances.
  • Report Generation: Compiling the findings and recommendations into a comprehensive report, including hazard analysis results, equipment labeling requirements, and PPE recommendations.

By meticulously following these steps, Allied Reliability ensures thorough and accurate assessments tailored to each client's specific needs and requirements.

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What Factors in the Cost of an Arc Flash Study?

The cost of a study isn't a one-size-fits-all answer, but it's shaped by several key factors relevant to your facility:

Scope and Complexity:

  • Size and Type of Facility: Larger facilities with more complex electrical systems naturally require more extensive studies, impacting the cost.
  • Amount of Equipment: The sheer number of transformers, switchgear, and other components directly influences the time and effort involved, affecting the cost.
  • Accessibility of Equipment: Easily accessible equipment simplifies data collection, while hard-to-reach components can increase time and cost.

Additional Considerations:

  • Starting Information Availability: Having accessible single-line diagrams, equipment specifications, and other relevant data can streamline the process, potentially lowering costs.
  • Electrical Workers Utilization: Studies factoring in worker exposure during specific tasks can add complexity, impacting the cost.
  • Travel and Logistics: Location and any travel requirements for the engineer can influence the overall cost.

Remember, while upfront study costs might seem significant, they pale in comparison to potential consequences of an arc flash incident, including worker injuries, equipment damage, production downtime, and hefty legal ramifications.

Why Choose Allied Reliability for Arc Flash Studies

Allied Reliability is a trusted partner for arc flash hazard analysis and risk assessments. With a team of experienced electrical technicians and engineers, we deliver unmatched expertise and comprehensive support throughout the arc flash assessment process. With our streamlined processes and professional team, we offer one of the quickest turnaround times in the industry without compromising quality or accuracy. Our commitment to excellence, state-of-the-art technology, and adherence to industry standards ensure that clients receive the highest level of service and satisfaction.

Our electrical services encompass a wide range of capabilities to address our clients' diverse needs effectively. From initial data collection and analysis to equipment labeling and PPE selection, we offer end-to-end solutions designed to enhance workplace safety and compliance. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you mitigate arc flash risks and electrical hazards.

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