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 Post subject: Z535 Signal Words
PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2021 7:18 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 7:20 am
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Are ANSI Z535 signal words required on arc flash labels?

I've been in a discussion with another engineer over whether or not arc flash labels should include ANSI Z535 signal words. In my view, OSHA requires the use of alerting techniques and ANSI Z535 defines those alerting techniques. The other engineer contends that using signal words (1) create a "false sense of security" and (2) that an arc flash label is an "informational label only" and that NFPA 70E doesn't require signal words.

Part 1 has no merit when referring to a single label, though there is an argument to be made around information overload when referring to all of the various labels that might be on a piece of equipment. My best guess is they've somehow taken the understanding that the commonly used 40cal/cm2 delineation is arbitrary and we shouldn't understand an IE of 40.0001 to be significantly more dangerous than 39.999 and shifted it to if there's no difference then why bother?

For Part 2, I don't agree with an arc flash label not being a type of warning label and while NFPA 70E itself may not specifically require the use of a signal word, OSHA certainly does. The discussion isn't even over when/whether to use "Danger", but solely whether the arc flash label should have a signal word at all.

I've already convinced this engineer to remove non-site-specific PPE levels from their labels (which took some doing despite it being explicit in NFPA 70E), but they're adamant that signal words should only be used for overduty equipment. I haven't found any interpretations directly addressing this issue.

Much obliged for any opinions or advice,

-WDM


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 Post subject: Re: Z535 Signal Words
PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2021 1:02 pm 
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https://www.google.com/search?q=arc+flash+label&newwindow=1&rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS756US761&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjX3O2xoNfzAhVJo54KHcIbDsgQ_AUoAnoECAEQBA&biw=1804&bih=834&dpr=1.13

It would seem that signal words are used commonly enough, although which one to use might be somewhat in question.


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 Post subject: Re: Z535 Signal Words
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 8:48 am 
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Location: Wisconsin
If you use signal words, then your entire label should follow the ANSI standard wording and general layout.

In my opinion arc flash labels containing PPE and boundaries are informational only and do not lend themselves to following the ANSI standards.
The company I used to work for always installed two label one with a signal word and the other with the required information. This is similar to using a Warning label saying there is a voltage hazard behind a door, and then a separate label showing how to open the door.


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 Post subject: Re: Z535 Signal Words
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 12:21 pm 
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Quote:
Danger Indicates an imminently hazardous situation which, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury. Safety Signs identified by the signal word DANGER should be used sparingly and only for those situations presenting the most serious hazards.

Warning Indicates a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury. Hazards identified by the signal word WARNING present a lesser degree of risk of injury or death than those identified by the signal word DANGER.

Caution Indicates a hazardous situation, which if not avoided, could result in minor or moderate injury. It may also be used without the safety alert symbol as an alternative to “NOTICE”

Notice is the preferred signal word to address practices not related to personal injury. The safety alert symbol should not be used with this signal word. As an alternative to “NOTICE”, the word “CAUTION” without the safety alert symbol may be used to indicate a message not related to personal injury.


Even an informational tag is covered by the standard, but I would submit an arc flash label is not simply informational. Following the label is necessary to lessen the hazard, and it is also a condition of continued employment.


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 Post subject: Re: Z535 Signal Words
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:00 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 7:20 am
Posts: 2
Is there any set definition or delineation between what constitutes an "information only" label versus a "warning" type of label? Near as I can tell there is not.


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 Post subject: Re: Z535 Signal Words
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 9:21 am 
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Location: Wisconsin
wdmcgugan wrote:
Is there any set definition or delineation between what constitutes an "information only" label versus a "warning" type of label? Near as I can tell there is not.


In my opinion a true 'warning' label follows the ANSI Z535 standard and contains nothing more than that.
[list=]Proper signal word
Proper color to match signal word.
Proper safety alert symbol.
Correct content (components = level of the hazard, what the hazard really is, how likely is the hazard, and what to do to avoid the hazard).[/list]

For equipment purchased in the past decade or so, the manufacturer has likely included an appropriate safety label such as "DANGER, Contact may cause electric shock or burn, Turn off power before servicing".
I don't know how many times I have seen people add 'Warning - Arc Flash' labels right next to a manufacturer's 'Danger - Energized Equipment' labels. Treating the arc flash label only as informative prevents or at least reduces this type of conflict.

But like most safety issues, there is no single correct answer, everything depends on the company's safety policy and programs.


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 Post subject: Re: Z535 Signal Words
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 1:01 pm 
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I would argue the arc flash "information only" tag supplies the information needed to avoid a a potentially hazardous situation which could otherwise result in death or serious injury. In other words, it is a warning label.

All labels provide information. Some provide information critical to safety.


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 Post subject: Re: Z535 Signal Words
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:40 am 
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stevenal wrote:
I would argue the arc flash "information only" tag supplies the information needed to avoid a a potentially hazardous situation which could otherwise result in death or serious injury. In other words, it is a warning label.

All labels provide information. Some provide information critical to safety.


Where on a typical arc flash label does it say what specific steps to follow to avoid the hazard? Something like 'avoid contact' or 'deenergize equipment' or even 'follow company safety practices' is required by the Z535 standard.

IMO, any label should be vetted by the company safety department and maybe even the legal department. Label content should be described in the Electrical Safe Work Policy and safety training.


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 Post subject: Re: Z535 Signal Words
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2021 9:22 am 
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Hi All,
Great conversation as usual. Looking at my copy of ANSI Z535.4, 5.2 “When no federal, state or local government code, regulation, standard or guideline specifies a particular signal work, selectin of the signal word shall be made in accordance with the definitions provided in section 4”

Section 4 lists the signal words, colors and urgency that many are familiar with. i.e. Danger, Warning etc.

There can also be a “message panel” From memory, I recall hearing a long time ago about a legal case where the plaintiff won because the old-style sign just stated “Danger” The argument was what action should have been taken, Danger didn’t convey the action of “keep out”. There are still many of these old signs out there.

So, the typical arc flash label usually states something like “Shock and Arc Flash Hazard” to define the hazard and “Appropriate PPE Required” to define the action.

The 2015 Edition of NFPA 70E used to directly reference ANSI Z535 in 130.7(C)(1) Safety Signs and Tags In the 2018 edition it was deleted and language referring to: "applicable state, federal, or local codes and standards" was added with a reference to an informational note that contains ANSI Z535 in an informational table along with other standards. From what I understand, other standards can not be listed as mandatory text so in 2018 ANSI Z 535 along with other standards were bumped to informational text.

Here is an article from a few years ago on the subject. Article: Arc Flash Labels and ANSI Z535


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 Post subject: Re: Z535 Signal Words
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2022 4:18 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:02 pm
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Location: Washington
As Jim mentioned, there once was a time where 70E called out specifically to use ANSI Z535. Now it is more generic and states to follow applicable state, federal, or local codes and standards. OSHA doesn't specifically call out a labeling standard as they don't call out the use of labels for arc flash hazards the way 70E does.

When I obtained a copy of Z535, it became obvious that many folks making safety labels had never bothered to understand that standard. A great deal of the information contained in the standard is in the Appendices. The phrase "Appropriate PPE Required" is one of those phrases that do not follow the guidance in Z535 where is states to use active language. It would be more appropriate to say something like "Use Appropriate PPE as Required". This of course is going to push them to some other document or sign where the Required PPE is spelled out. I hate it when PPE is listed on a tiny 4" x 6" label and is trying to share space with a bunch of tiny little numbers representing the information required by 70E. My eyes can't read that without being inches away. That leads into other guidance in Z535 such as label text size (often violated by companies plastering their logos all over the labels), lighting, sign material, and sign placement.

Z535 is a very useful document. Why wouldn't the folks making labels want to take advantage of all the expertise and experience represented by that document? If you are making safety labels or signs you have no excuse for not having a copy for reference.

The discussions on the use of DANGER vs WARNING never made much sense to me. First, the labels almost always cover both arc flash hazards and voltage, so even if the AF hazard is low, you still have that voltage that is almost always going to push you to Dangerous. I'm pretty sure the use of DANGER for IE over 40 came from the old days when that was as high as the 70E PPE tables went and folks were also under the impression that anything over 40 cal/cm^2 automatically equated to a dangerous blast condition (a myth debunked previously by Jim). However, as a WARNING sign still conveys the possibility of death should the hazard not be avoided, that seems like it might be splitting hairs. As colors other than black and white in the message panel are not recommended by Z535, I suspect folks were using the Danger red as a workaround to color code the labels.


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