Protecting Facilities Against Arc Flashes

In any building or facility, it is essential that safety is a top priority, especially when it comes to the facility’s electrical systems. As the National Fire Protection Association is an organization that focuses on fire safety, it is no surprise that the NFPA has recently turned its sights onto facilities’ electrical systems. NFPA 70E is the standard that addresses workplace electrical safety requirements, a universally important element in buildings of all types and purposes. Specifically, NFPA 70E targets arc flash.

This is an instantaneous explosion that can result from a short in the electrical system. The danger from this event is extreme, with very high arc flash temperatures and pressures that can propel shrapnel at speeds of 700 miles per hour. The electrical industry is constantly aware of the dangers of arc flash, as workers who maintain and repair electrical equipment sometimes are exposed to the risk of this catastrophic event. Some of the causes of an arc flash include touching a probe, tool, or other foreign object to the wrong surface. Breaks or gaps in electrical insulation are another possible cause, as well as equipment failure due to substandard parts, improper installation, or dust and corrosion on the surface of conductors.

To provide the strongest protection against arc flash, it is imperative to follow NFPA 70E. Professional services that provide design analysis, arc flash hazard assessments, and employee training can offer invaluable assistance to builders and designers in all different areas. Qualified engineers and licensed electricians can perform field surveys to assure that arc flash hazards are kept to an absolute minimum.

Compliance with NFPA 70E affects not only industrial facilities, but commercial buildings and schools as well. More and more schools are focusing on ensuring that their facilities and staff are safe by complying with this standard. When it comes to the electrical systems and arc flash, it’s better to be on the safe side.