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.
Obtain the 2015 Edition of NFPA 70E
NFPA 70E is on a three year revision cycle so if you have not done so already, obtain a copy of the 2015 edition which contains many significant changes. A preview of the major changes was published in the May 2014 edition of Electrical Contractor Magazine – Change is on the Way! 2015 NFPA 70E.
Update Electrical Diagrams
Electrical drawings can be a critical component in the verification of an electrically safe work condition as well as lockout/tagout procedures. The drawings should be kept up-to-date but with so many other projects receiving higher priority, updating old drawings often remains near the bottom of the list. If electrical drawings are not up-to-date, add this to your 2015 resolutions.
Review The Existing Arc Flash Study (Risk Assessment)
Incident energy calculations are based on the available short circuit current and protective device clearing time along with a few other variables. The results are used to determine the protection requirements for the arc flash hazard. Have there have been major modifications or renovations to the electrical power system since the last arc flash study was performed? If so, the calculated incident energy and protection requirements may also have changed so the study should be reviewed. As a minimum, NFPA 70E requires that the study be reviewed at intervals not to exceed five years.
Maintenance of Protective Devices
The arc flash duration is defined by a protective device’s clearing time. Will protective devices operate as expected? During an arc flash, if a device takes longer to operate than predicted, the resulting incident energy will increase proportionally with the increase in time. When was the last time the protective devices were inspected or tested? If the answer is something like “never”, “I don’t know”, or “quite a long time”, 2015 is the year to develop a maintenance program based on the manufacturer’s instructions or industry consensus standards.
Review Arc Flash Labels
Is the information on the arc flash warning labels still accurate? Although it may seem like every new edition of NFPA 70E brings some change to label terminology and/or requirements, remember one of the more important items is the information for selecting the appropriate arc flash PPE. Whether using the Hazard Risk Category method (obsolete in 2015), PPE levels, categories, incident energy or arc ratings, the accuracy of this information needs to be periodically reviewed and verified. In addition, affected employees need to be trained to understand how the information is used.
Employees responsible for responding to medical emergencies are required to be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Training in the use of an automated external defibrillator is also required if it is part of the employers emergency response plan. NFPA 70E requires annual refresher courses in these topics so add this to the 2015 list.
Obtain PPE for the Arc Flash and Electric Shock Hazard
If your company still has employees working on or near energized electrical equipment without proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for arc flash and shock protection, correcting this dangerous situation should be one of the top priorities for 2015. The process begins by performing an arc flash and shock risk assessment.
Incident energy calculations are typically based on IEEE 1584 – IEEE Guide for Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations and are used to define the severity of the arc flash hazard. However the risk must also be evaluated. 2015 is a good time to review the available methods for further reducing or eliminating the risk of electrical hazards.
Even the best electrical safety program is not very useful if employees do not know about it or do not understand it. Employees that are exposed to electrical hazards are required to be retrained at intervals not to exceed three years which coincides with the three year revision cycle of NFPA 70E. If workers have not been brought up to speed with the 2015 edition, this should rank high up on the list.
Zero Energized Work in 2015
2015 should have an even greater emphasis on eliminating energized work. Although not always possible with some industries and systems, placing equipment in an electrically safe work condition should be the primary focus of electrical safety programs for 2015 (and beyond).
It’s easy to make the check up – the hard part is getting started.