Arc flashes are among the most dangerous hazards in the workplace. They can occur in far less than a second, are unpredictable, and can be deadly. For this reason, all employers need to make sure that their systems are kept in proper working order, and know how to identify when there is an elevated risk of an arc flash occurring. This is done by performing an arc flash hazard analysis on a regular basis. This analysis consists of several steps that will help you to identify the risks in your facility.
Review Electrical Documentation
The first step is to get all the electrical documentation for any systems that you are reviewing. If you are looking at a machine, you’ll want to get the original documentation that came with it. If you’re looking at the electrical systems installed into your facility, you’ll want to get the documentation that was provided by the electricians. This will allow you to know exactly how the system is set up so you don’t miss a thing.
Review the Systems
Next, you will need to compare the documentation with what is seen when looking at the systems you are analyzing. This will allow you to spot any changes or upgrades that have taken place over the years. If there are any changes, you should have the documentation updated to ensure it accurately reflects your systems.
Test the Systems
Next, the systems will be tested with a short circuit study. This is often done using software that will analyze the electrical paths throughout the system. Where there are protective devices such as circuit breakers or fuses, the test will identify whether those devices are sufficient to handle the maximum level of current that is present. If those devices are insufficient, they may fail, which can result in an arc flash.
Establish Safety Areas
One of the most important parts of an arc flash hazard analysis is determining what will happen should an arc flash occur. The engineer performing the analysis will determine how large an arc flash may be so that the area within that distance can be marked off for people to avoid. Anyone entering the arc flash risk area will need to wear personal protective equipment at all times.
Performed by Experienced Engineers
An arc flash hazard analysis is an important safety process for all facilities. They must be done by experienced electrical engineers who know how to properly test large systems to ensure the information is accurate. A good analysis will provide a comprehensive set of information that can dramatically improve the safety of the facility.