An arc flash audit, otherwise known as an arc flash risk assessment, is necessary to ensure that a company’s workplace remains up to safety standards. Businesses that do not follow guidelines and perform routine arc flash audits could face serious consequences, including severe injury or death. Keep yourself informed on what must be done to make a workplace safe for all personnel.
An arc flash occurs in high-powered electrical equipment where the electrical current leaves the intended pathway and flows through the air due to a fault or short circuit. These arc flashes are dangerous, as they can produce a highly toxic cloud of plasma and particles attracted to metal objects.
Often, arc flashes can lead to arc bursts, where the air in the surrounding area rapidly heats up, resulting in a supersonic shock wave that can destroy equipment and injure nearby employees. These temperatures can exceed 35,000 °F, vaporizing solid copper conductors and increasing their volume.
Though these arc flashes can occur at any point when high-powered electrical equipment is live, they are often caused by human error during maintenance. Failure to use the recommended equipment, disregard for guidelines, and improper care of machinery can all lead to an arc flash.
Arc flashes are sudden and devastating. Once they are set off, there is no time for someone in the vicinity to protect themselves or nearby equipment from the fallout.
While ensuring your equipment is installed correctly and maintained is key to avoiding arc flashes, the risk of an arc flash is still present. As such, NFPA 70E® Standard for Electrical Safety In The Workplace® states that a factory should have an arc flash risk assessment performed every five years or in the event of significant changes in the electrical system–whichever occurs first.
An arc flash audit is an on-site analysis performed by an expert in electrical safety who visits a facility and determines the risk of any particular equipment’s chance of causing an arc flash. During this assessment, they will search for any violation of codes or safety guidelines so that a facility may remedy them. They may also suggest changes to procedures and protective measures that a facility can take to mitigate the danger.
According to the National Electrical Code, all facilities must properly label equipment to inform workers of its arc flash hazard, voltage, arc flash boundary, and any PPE necessary while handling the equipment. A professional engineer can discover this information during an arc flash audit.
The expert will determine the maximum current that can flow through the system and identify any weaknesses where an arc flash can occur. From that point, they can determine the arc flash boundaries, or the farthest point away from the arc flash source that would leave a worker with only curable second-degree burns.
They will also be able to test what personal protective equipment (PPE) an employee would need to wear while engaging with the potential arc flash risk. With this information, a facility can minimize the risk or possible damage of an arc flash or burst.
When deciding where to turn for your arc flash risk assessment, it is essential that you don’t attempt to have just any engineer perform the audit. Instead, the arc flash audit must be performed by a licensed expert.
Many in-house engineers will not have the proper equipment or software to perform the assessment or print labels properly, which is required to fully meet standards. An improperly performed assessment could lead to the injury or death of employees and the shutdown of a facility.
Instead of attempting an assessment in-house, consider contacting a company that provides arc flash audits, which you can trust to offer the best service.
As a multi-craft contractor, we offer our expertise to businesses in Southeastern Georgia looking for a company that can do it all. Since our beginnings in 1945, we’ve provided everything from turnkey services to plant relocation to arc flash audits. We have hands-on experience with every process step, promising a safe and thorough job with a quality performance guarantee.
With our assistance through the arc flash study, you’ll know that your workers are safe and informed while interacting with high-powered electrical equipment in your factory. In the event of an incident, your facility will be able to minimize damages and avoid it developing into a catastrophic failure, promising that you’ll be able to return to business as usual quickly and efficiently.
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