Arc Flash Loss Prevention

Arc Flash Loss Prevention

AFLP - Arc Flash Loss Prevention is a six-step program designed to help businesses and organizations comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements for protecting employees against arc flash electrical explosions.

An AFLP Program includes more than the arc flash analysis required by the NFPA. AFLP incorporates discovery, engineering, identification, reporting, administrative planning, training, field execution, documentation control, program review, and annual program updates.

Cost of an arc flash

Arc flashes occur five to ten times a day in the U.S., causing people serious injures, severe burns, and even death [] . The pressure wave created by an arc flash can damage eyesight, hearing, and brain function. The heat, four times hotter than the Sun, vaporizes metal and melts clothing to the skin. Debris is thrown for feet and flames shoot out causing severe burns up to ten feet away and fatal burns five feet away from the center of the flash. []

Each year, arc flashes impact businesses and their operations, causing over $250 billion in losses and generating:
*Lawsuits from workers and families
*Business disruptions
*OSHA citations and penalties
*Increased insurance premiums
*Canceled insurance
*Bad public relations
*Damage to corporate reputations

AFLP Steps

The six steps for a sustainable AFLP program that helps a business protect against arc flashes include:

*Discovery and Engineering - This step includes the gathering of pre-existing engineering data. This could include design and construction drawings as well as interviews, historical failures and fault data collection and data gathering on a facility's department operating process. Information from this stage will result in updated risk assessments, recommended system improvements, engineered and design improve coordination studies and updated electrical diagrams.

*Identification and Documentation - Each electrical asset is labeled and identified with a warning label that meets ANSI Z535.4-1998 specifications per National Electrical Code (NEC) 2002 reference (or later version). This also includes accumulated data used for risk assessments, electrical asset inventory list, arc flash category results, engineered drawings, TCC curves, breakers and fuses, set points and copies of labels.

*Program Preparation and Administration - Key elements in this AFLP stage involves:
**Listing staff responsibilities and documenting the AFLP Program process for internal coordination
**Creating the AFLP Program document designed for electrical asset control
**Selecting personal protective equipment (PPE) based on the probability of use, AFLP Program category classification, number of personnel, size, voltage classes, boundary levels
**Preparing a AFLP Program Standard Operational Procedure manual tailored to the specific facility.

*Program Training and Certification - Initial start-up, ongoing and new employee training is conducted to ensure compliance. Among those trained in various aspects of AFLP are the administrative staff who approve and issue issue work tickets, coordinate with outside contractors, and maintain activities logs. Field workers are trained and certified to qualify personnel to work on the facility's electrical system. This includes initial start-up, ongoing and new employee training, as well as the methodology

*Field Execution and Document Control - During this phase, AFLP methods are integrated into:
**Internal maintenance work tickets, change control and service history records.
**Work with external service providers such as outside contractors. This includes credentialing, control of scope of work, change control, and as-built documentation.

*Program Review and Update - On a quarterly or bi-annual basis, depending on the complexity and history of the program, the previous period's experience and activities are reviewed. This includes interviews with field personnel, staff and management and a review of field documentation and field inspection (visual) for accurate records, logs, and electrical system modifications that need to be labeled and classified. On an annual basis, all the maintenance records, interviews and system modifications are reviewed and records updated. From this, the AFLP Program Standard Operating Procedural manual is updated and maintained.

OSHA Requirements

In 2007, OSHA required that U.S. employers shall protect any personnel from arc flash hazards. On February 14, 2007, the agency recorded new electrical safety standards in the Federal Register with [ mandates] for equipment design, equipment classification, electrical system installation and electrical maintenance practices. On August 17, 2007, the OSHA requirements became effective.

According to the Federal Register, OSHA "determined that electrical hazards in the workplace pose a significant risk of injury or death to employees, and that the requirements in the revised standard, which draw heavily from the 2000 edition of the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces (NFPA 70E), and the 2002 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC), are reasonably necessary to provide protection from these hazards. This final rule focuses on safety in the design and installation of electrical equipment in the workplace."

OSHA regulations state in 1910.333 (a) that workers should not work on live equipment (greater than 50 volts) except for one of two reasons:
* If de-energizing introduces additional or increased hazards such as the shutdown of ventilation to a hazardous location, interruption of life support equipment, or deactivation of emergy alarm systems.
* If it is infeasible due to equipment design or operational limitations such as when voltage testing is required for diagnostics.

When necessary to work on energized equipment, workers should follow safe work practices including assessing the risks, wearing proper Protective Protection Equipment (PPE), and using the propert tools.

NFPA Regulations

Besides having to follow OSHA rulings, organizations must also adhere to the electrical codes established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA's 300 codes and standards influence every building, process, service, design, and installation in the United States, as well as many of those used in other countries.

NFPA publishes both the NFPA 70 National Electrical Code (NEC) and the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplaces (NFPA 70E). [] These publications provide the industry’s acceptable standard practices used by federal, state and local building authorities to regulate safe electrical installation and maintenance.

The NFPA 70E standard provides guidance on implementing appropriate work practices required to safeguard workers from injury while working on or near exposed electrical conductors or circuit parts that could become energized. Some requirements of NFPA 70E-2004 [] include:
* Equipment must be placed in a safe working condition;
* Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn when work is conducted within a flash protection boundary. This work includes lockout/tagout, testing, and inspecting visual breaks within flash boundaries of energized equipment; and
* Facility owners are required to perform a flash hazard analysis prior to allowing a worker to work on energized equipment. This is necessary for determining the flash protection boundary and type of PPE required.

Who Is Responsible?

In addition to the employers who directly employ the exposed electrical workers and others to electrical arc flashes, building owners, property managers, facility managers and general contractors are responsible.

According to OSHA and a posting on its web site, the four employer role categories [] include the following:
* Exposing: This is an employer whose own employees are exposed to the hazard.
* Creating: This is an employer who creates a hazard to which a different employer’s employees are exposed.
* Correcting: This is an employer who has been brought in to specifically correct a hazard.
* Controlling: This is an employer with general supervisory authority over the worksite with the authority to have safety and health violations corrected.

Based on OSHA and NFPA, when workers must work on energized electrical equipment, they must be qualified to do so, be made aware of the hazards and follow proper work practices as described in NFPA 70E. This includes wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) [NFPA 70E, 2004 Edition, Ray A. Jones, page 25, section 130.3 (B)]


External links

# [http:// AFLP White Paper]
# [ CDC Arc Flash Awareness]
# [ NFPA Journal- The 70E Connection]

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