Common Arc Flash Mistakes

Arc flash analysis is key to keeping your workers safe and your workplace compliant. Following are some common mistakes people make when implementing an arc flash analysis:

1. Not Having An Arc Flash Program

Some organizations may perceive that any financial cost to implement a program is too costly.  But the truth is that it is a small investment in security when looking at the possibility of injuries, death of workers and the cumulative costs of downtime, fines, insurance and legal issues.

2. Buying the Wrong PPE

AR clothing is not only needed but required of you as an employer to protect workers from an Arc Flash.  However, purchasing clothing is not your only responsibility.  Without conducting an arc flash analysis, there is no way to ensure the AR clothing is appropriate and will keep workers safe.   Until an arc flash analysis is conducted, it’s almost impossible to tell what the ideal PPE is for your employees.  In addition, arc flash hazards can often be reduced or in some cases eliminated by making simple changes in fuses or circuit breakers, possibly avoiding the need for heavier PPE .

3. Postponing the Electrical Safety Training

Training is crucial and sometimes overlooked or postponed due to busy schedules.  However, priority must be made is reserving the time as it is not only required by OSHA, but it’s an important part in fulfilling an arc flash analysis or electrical safety program.  Workers need to know how to properly understand the program; read the labels that have been placed; in addition to properly care and wear their PPE .

4. Not Implementing the Corrective Recommendations

Recommendations to mitigate an arc flash hazard down to a lower category can be fairly simple and inexpensive.  However, often due other priorities at the time organizations fail to implement the recommendations in the report.  Leaving their workers exposed to a higher risk of harm than necessary.

5.Purchasing Inappropriate Insulated Tools

NFPA 70E requires employees to use insulated tools when working inside the Limited Approach Boundary.  Make sure the tools you select are appropriate for the tasks at your location.

6. Failing to Monitor the Changes after the Arc Flash Analysis is Completed

An arc flash analysis captures only a snapshot in time.  Therefore, major changes to the electrical distribution system need to documented not to exceed 5 years.  A best practices approach would be to document equipment any equipment that has changed and have that equipment updated on a periodic basis.  Without this practice an organization will have incorrectly labeled equipment resulting in another arc flash analysis in five years or worse an injury or death to a worker.

7. Lack of a Preventative Maintenance Program to Support Equipment Safety

It is important to monitor your electrical distribution equipment on a regular basis.  By keeping on top of the situation you can identify potential hazards before they become big risks to your employees and your organization.

8. By-Passing the Short Circuit Study and Protective Device Coordination Study

A short circuit study and protective device coordination study are the keys to mitigate higher risk hazard categories.  Although these studies are not required for an arc flash analysis or for the creation of the mandated labels it is necessary to lower your risk and cost.

9. Not Remembering Shock Hazards

At the forefront of everyone’s mind today is arc flash hazards and AR Clothing.  However, we must not forget the risks related to shock.  Statistically, more people go to the hospital with arc flash injures than shock but there are more deaths from electrocution than an arc flash. Therefore, as an organization cultivate shock awareness with communication, policies, training and when ordering PPE .

10. Not Enforcing the Implemented Policies

As an organization you have spent the time and money to create the Electrical Safety Policies.  However, it is only the first step in demonstrating your compliance.  The facilities with the best safety results are those that have zero tolerance for non-compliance.

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