Arc Flash, Second Degree Burns (My Wife and a Chili Cookoff)

Yes, you read the title correctly – Second degree burns, my wife and a chili cookoff! And it all took place at home. But, before I get into that story, let me back up a bit.

Standards such as NFPA 70E, IEEE 1584 and several others address the arc flash hazard in terms of incident energy with the severity quantified in terms of calories per square centimeter (cal/cm2).  The generally accepted value for “the onset of a second degree burn” is 1.2 cal/cm2 as shown in the following examples.

The NFPA 70E definition of the Arc Flash Boundary contains an Informational Note that references the “the onset of a second degree burn on unprotected skin is likely to occur at an exposure of 1.2 cal/cm2

“The onset of a second-degree skin burn injury based on the Stoll curve.” is also found in Informational Note 3 of the definition of Arc Rating. Continue reading

IEEE 1584 Status Update

I have been receiving many questions lately about the status of the next edition of the standard: IEEE 1584 – IEEE Guide for Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations.  As Vice-Chair of the IEEE 1584 working group, I would like to provide an update about the progress and current status.

The formal voting process (known as a Sponsor Ballot) for the next edition of IEEE 1584 was actually completed during August of 2017. However, that was only the beginning of a very long process.  As part of the first round of balloting, many comments were submitted by the voters which needed to be formally addressed.  There are over 160 people in the ballot pool that represent a wide cross section of the industry.

The IEEE 1584 Working Group voted to establish a Ballot Resolution Committee (BRC) which includes the Chair, Secretary and me along with a few others that represent various sectors of the industry.  Continue reading

Arc Flash Study Top 10 FAQs Part #2

How Does Everyone Else Do This?

By Jim Phillips

3-Part Series



  1. Does your company or client permit energized work where the incident energy is greater than 40 calories per centimeter squared (cal/cm2)?

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Face equipment or face away during switching?

Weekly Question:

This week’s question was submitted from one of our forum members. I will post it here

When locking out or resetting a tripped breaker on a CAT 4 system (actually extreme danger), I have one electrician that says he feels more comfortable facing the distribution than facing away. He argues that the shield will protect him better than the Balaclava. He also says that the force needed to reset a tripped (1200 Amp) breaker is easier when facing the breaker. Our lockout rules say to face away, close your eyes and hold your breath (and pray), using your left hand. Which is safer?

To summarize, here is this week’s question:

When switching equipment, do you believe it better to face the equipment or face away.
Face equipment
Face away
Doesn’t matter
Something else


If you have a question you would like to see submitted as a “Question of the Week” pass it along to me and I’ll get it posted! – Jim

Hot Stick Testing

Question: Everyone, I got this question from a client. He asked if it’s necessary to have their hot sticks tested? Understand this company has nothing higher than 480 volts on site and only uses these hot sticks to switch on and off 480 volt 30- to 200 amp bus duct fused disconnect switches.

The bus in this factory is hanging well above the floor. If an employee needs to reach a bus plug, he uses a hot stick to access the handle from the floor. I can’t see any reason to get the hot sticks tested, but wanted to get your views. I’d think they’d want to put some sort of notice on each stick that indicates the stick is not to be used for real hot work, or words to that effect. What’s your take on this?

Answers: If insulation isn’t required, my first thought is why not use conductive pipe instead. I suspect the answer is to be safe from inadvertent movement and contact. So if insulation is needed for this aspect, I suggest testing the insulation. READ MORE.

Jim Phillips, P.E. Joins Electrical Safety UK as Associate Director

Jim Phillips, P.E. Joins Electrical Safety UK as Associate Director

NASA Shuttle Jim Phillips

October 3, 2016, Scottsdale, AZ: On August 4, 2016 Jim Phillips P.E. joined Electrical Safety UK as an Associate Director.  He brings his 35 years of experience to ESUK which includes helping tens of thousands of people around the world understand electrical power system design, analysis and safety. Having taught over 2000 training seminars during his career to people from all seven continents, he has developed a reputation for being one of the best trainers and public speakers in the electric power industry. The highlights include:

  • International Chairman of IEC TC78 – Live Working
  • Secretary of IEEE 1584 IEEE Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations
  • Head of U.S. Delegation to European Based IEC TC78 Committee – Live Working
  • Liaison Officer between IEEE 1584 and European based IEC arc flash committees
  • Author of the book: Complete Guide to Arc Flash Hazard Calculation Studies
  • Is a Contributing Editor for Multi Award Winning – Electrical Contractor Magazine
  • Founder of the internationally known website: 

Located in Rotherham, (Sheffield), England, Electrical Safety UK is a specialist company concerned with the safety of workers who carry out electrical work. We advise industrial & commercial organisations and utility service providers on matters of electrical safety, write procedures and rules, and train their staff and contractors.

About Brainfiller Inc.: Founded in 1987 by Jim Phillips, P.E. in Scottsdale, AZ; began as T2G Technical Training Group, an alternative to University sponsored short courses. Over the last 30-years, has grown to be one of the most reputable Electric Power and Arc Flash Training companies worldwide. has a library of online resources of Jim Phillips books, DVD’s, training programs, global training schedule and e-learning courses.

For additional information, please contact [email protected] or 800-874-8883.


How far would you go?

All – I found this installation the other day while in an area I am not officially in charge of. I called the person in charge and recommended he have it removed form service that day before something bad happened. Obviously that didn’t happen. If your electrician installed this would he still be working for you? How about his supervisor who did not have it removed? The other option would be I’m the crazy one and it’s no big deal. After all it’s a welding plug…………………….  :D READ MORE.

Short sleeves versus long sleeves

The industrial plant I work in has a policy that you must have long sleeves when inside an electrical room. Yesterday we had our annual “cold day”, where all turbine generators are offline and we are disconnected from the electric utility. During that period it is common practice for electricians to where short sleeves only. However, there doesn’t appear to be a facility policy to that effect, so someone made a fuss and we are having to clarify the policy.

The first part of the discussion is is that an appropriate practice? The proposed policy would be that you can have short sleeves as long as you have all power sources to the room locked out.

The second part of the discussion is does it really matter if you have long sleeves or short sleeves? To my thinking if you aren’t wearing a full set of arc flash hazard equipment (e.g. 4 cal, 8 cal, 40 cal, etc) then it doesn’t really matter what you are wearing, except that it not be flammable. READ MORE.

X factor for Disconnect switches

Hello What is the optimal X factor for disconnect switches. I assumed it is 2 because that’s the default value that ETAP gives you. Am I correct for assuming this? Furthermore, It falls under the low voltage category (0.208-1), so it can be the value for MCC’s and panels which is 1.473. Which value is optimal for Arc Flash calculations? Thanks READ MORE

PPE Selection when Interacting with non-labeled Equipment

Hi All, To put my question in context, I train Industrial Maintenance and Construction Electricians at a Community College. Some of the students are new to the field and are receiving training to gain employment. Many of the students are already employed and are taking classes to enhance their skill set. Many of these folks are involved with service work that takes them to a variety of locations from 7-11s to industrial sites. Where I am troubled is how to advise them about what PPE to wear in READ MORE

Utility Short Circuit Current Data, Arc Flash and Change

Webinar – Utility Short Circuit Current Data, Arc Flash Studies and Change
by Jim Phillips, P.E.

[See more about Jim Phillips]

Agua Caliente 1It goes up, it goes down, sometimes it is thought to be infinite (although it really isn’t!) and other times it seems impossible to find. “It” refers to the available short circuit current from the electric utility which is one of the more important pieces of information for an arc flash hazard calculation study. Used to help define the severity of an arc flash hazard, it represents the magnitude of current that could f
low from the electric utility during a short circuit. Continue reading

2015 NFPA 70E – 10 Item Check Up

With the 2015 Edition of NFPA 70E being published and all of the changes that it brings, it is time to review your arc flash study, labels and overall practices.  There are many key areas that should be evaluated.  Here ten of the more important areas to look at to give your site a check up. Continue reading

NFPA 70E – Qualified Workers

“Raise your right hand”  Pretty intimidating words – especially if they are said in a court room and the trial is about an injury or death.  –  and you are on the wrong side of what happened.  Let’s face it in the litigious society that we have in the United States, it seems anytime there is an accident where there is a significant economic loss, personal injury or worse – someone died, there will almost certainly be legal actions. Continue reading

NFPA 70E – 2015 Edition – Update of Changes

NFPA 70E – Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, was first published in 1979 and consisted of only one part, The 2015 Edition marks the tenth edition to NFPA 70E and with it, many sweeping changes. This article provides a review of the major changes to the latest edition of this important electrical safety standard. Continue reading

Electric Shock – It CAN Happen to Anyone – Like Me!

Electric shock happens to more people than they care to admit. In almost every NFPA 70E / electrical safety training class that I conduct, I ask the group “how many of you have NEVER experienced an electric shock.” I have yet to see a hand go up. In today’s “Modern World” electricity is part of daily life and as a consequence, an electric shock can happen to anyone – Including Me! Continue reading

NFPA 70E Major Updates for the 2012 Edition – Part 2.

Although beginning with an erratic schedule with revisions to NFPA 70E being spaced anywhere from 2 to 5 years apart, this very important electrical safety standard is now on a regular 3 year revision cycle. In early 2011, I wrote an article about the significant changes that were about to be part of the 9th Edition, the 2012 Edition of NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. This article will take us a little further into the standard and address some changes that I was not able to include in the previous article. Continue reading

Arc Flash Training – Keeping Skills Current in a Down Economy

Electrical Power Training and Arc Flash Training remain even more important in a down economy.

What if you had been stranded on a deserted island for the past five years? By the time you were rescued, you would have missed the explosion of social media usage, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, as well as advancements in smart grids and wind and solar energy—it would be more than you could imagine. You may think, “How could the industry have changed so much? I was only lost for a few years.”

What if you were stranded for just one year? You would have missed the latest tablet computer, the rapid development of smart phone apps and quick response (QR) codes (those odd looking bar codes for smart phone scanning). You even would have missed the latest edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) and the 2012 edition of NFPA 70E. Continue reading

U.K. Article – Arc Flash – Not Just an Electrocution Hazard – Part 3

Arc Flash – The need for risk assessment is embodied in European Law through directive 89/391 and is transposed into UK Law through Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. Most people are familiar with the general principles of prevention as laid down in these documents and in other UK regulations. They say that “Where an employer implements any preventative measures, he shall do so on the basis of the principles of prevention” shown below. The authors discuss how these principles can be interpreted when it comes to arc flash prevention.
Jim Phillips, P.E. and Mike Frain, FIET – October 2009 – Electrical Review U.K.

Download:  U.K. Article – Arc Flash – EAWR – Part 3 of 3

How Did We Get Here? The History of Electrical Safety

BUY NOW: 2018 NFPA 70E Changes Part 1

It seems like the more you attempt to learn about arc flash and electrical safety, the more confusing it becomes. A mixture of letters such as OSHA, NFPA 70E, NEC, IEEE 1584, ASTM F1506 seem to be the secret language used by the electrical safety industry. Who created this alphabet soup of standards, and how did we get here?

Continue reading

Arc Flash – Unplugged

Arc Flash – Dynamite, gasoline, gunpowder and electricity: What do these have in common? Each one can explode. Something as simple as the slip of a screwdriver can cause the electric power system to act like a bomb. Technically known as an arc flash, this potentially devastating explosion can occur when accidental contact is made between energized conductors or between one conductor and a grounded surface, such as an equipment enclosure.

Continue reading