There are three studies that will have to be performed to get your company into compliance with the new arc flash signage laws. These requirements are stated in the National Electrical Code Book Art.110 on “Requirements For Electrical Installations.” In article 110.16 under the paragraph on flash protection it states that electrical gear should be marked to protect the maintenance personnel and others from the dangers of arc flash hazard. However, how it is marked falls back to the standards in NFPA 70E. OSHA governs this process.
An arc flash is a phenomenon that occurs when air becomes ionized and electricity leaves its intended path – travels through the air creating a fireball of energy. (Please view “YouTube” videos on arc flash.) When an arc flash occurs and injures someone the owner/manager of the property is liable if these labels are not in place.
OSHA also requires that personnel be properly dressed for their tasks. By placing these labels on the equipment, personnel would be warned and the liability for the company will be reduced as well as avoid costly OSHA non-compliance penalties. This is one benefit from getting the study done.
The second is that the application of your electrical gear will be verified properly for the amount of energy for which it is being employed. Thirdly, the gear will be verified to coordinate with its counterparts up and downstream. So that when something goes wrong, for instance a motor shorts out, it will not turn off your entire plant. Only the circuit breaker immediately up stream of the short circuit will be effected.
In order to make these warning labels, first your electrical system will be mapped out—lengths of wire, breaker types and sizes, motor sizes, etc. The resulting information will be used to conduct a short circuit study that will tell the engineer how much energy is available at any point on the system. Thereafter, a coordination study will be conducted to determine if the circuit breakers, fuses, and the system ground are sufficient. If the location they are currently installed in is not right they will have to be replaced. There will be an additional charge to remove and install the right parts and adjust any breakers appropriately. Afterwards, the arc flash labels will be installed on the switchgear.
At the end, the customer will be given a full report and a riser diagram outlining the short circuit values in their system, as well as a safer system with less liability.