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Properly Labeling Electrical Equipment Can Prevent Arc Flash Incidents in the Workplace

This simplified method to label electrical equipment includes accurate arc-fault values and is a cost-effective way to reduce arc flash hazards

By Robert E. Henry, PE, President of R. E. Henry PE LLC

up close arc flash label

 

 

 

 

Costly damage to equipment, delays in production, danger to workers are all results of arc flashes in electrical equipment. Federal law requires arc flash labels on electrical equipment, and since 2000, OSHA has required labels too.

According to this article in EHS Today, there is struggle with compliance because of budget considerations, workers overloaded with tasks, or unwanted focus on National Electrical Code violations in the facilities (or the fear of violations being revealed). Additionally, some employers consider code requirements as advisory only, when, in fact, the majority of local governments have amended their building codes to include the labeling requirement.

A lengthy survey of the facility and compiling of details of the electrical system is the standard labeling procedure.

The system is analyzed, calculating bolted fault currents, arc-fault currents and incident energies at each of the panel boards, motor control centers, switchboards, transformers and medium-voltage equipment on the premises. From the compiled calculated values the labels are prepared, and then applied to the equipment.

This analysis requires engineering-level workers. Electricians apply the labels and the typical number of labels at an average-sized workplace can range from 100 to 300. A large refinery can require as many as 3,000 labels.

The article goes on to say that half this procedure is no longer necessary and a simpler method of labeling electrical panels exists. In this process an electrician familiar with the premises performs a survey.

To read the entire EHS Today article, click here

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