What Is an Arc Flash Analysis, and Why Is It Important?

Safety is a top concern for all electrical projects. In addition to protecting the electrical contractors with proper personal protective equipment, it’s important to run tests and analysis to ensure the project will undergo a safe installation and operation thereafter. One of those analyses is an arc flash analysis.

Here’s some more information about this analysis and why it may need to be performed by a power supply company.

What is arc flash analysis?

An arc flash analysis is a study used to identify safety protocols for qualified electrical contractors working on electrical equipment and circuit parts that are unable to be placed in a condition safe for electrical work.

In this engineered incident energy analysis, the shock and arc flash boundaries are calculated, which are used to establish protocols, such as appropriate levels of personal protective equipment. This type of analysis will also include updated facility electrical paperwork with one-line diagrams and equipment locations, as well as a short circuit and coordination study.

Why is arc flash analysis important?

This analysis will determine the incident energy available at a specific electrical device, which will reveal how much energy electrical workers may be exposed to while interacting with the equipment at the facility. As mentioned, this helps determine what type of personal protective equipment is needed on-site, which is required by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 1910.132.

The standard for electrical safety in the workplace, NFPA 70E, states, “The employer shall implement and document an overall electrical safety program that directs activity appropriate to the risk of electrical hazards. The electrical safety program shall be implemented as part of the employer’s overall occupational health and safety management system, when one exists.” This goes on to specifically cite arc flash analysis as a requirement before any work can begin.

The details of NFPA 70E include not only the analysis but also proper labeling containing information about the risk identified through the analysis. It also includes requirements of the host employer to notify the contractor of any hazards that may be encountered, meaning that an arc flash analysis is still required even if the facility owner hires licensed electricians for the work.

How to be compliant as a facility owner

As a facility owner, in order to be compliant with NFPA 70E regulations surrounding arc flash analysis, it’s important to ensure electrical safety and arc flash training of electrical workers on the jobsite. It’s also imperative to properly label equipment with the nominal system voltage, arc flash boundary and either the required personal protective equipment level, available incident energy at working distance or minimum arc rating of clothing.

When you need essential electrical service or mission-critical power specialists, it’s important to work with a power supply company with the right experience for the job. With 24-hour emergency service as well as experience in design, installation and maintenance since 1986, make sure Ham’s Electric, Inc. is your first call for any power supply installation needs. We look forward to assisting you soon.