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Electrical safety is a nebulous thing, but we define it as the set of systems designed to lower the risks associated with the electrical hazards of shock, arc flash and arc blast, to an acceptable level. In our day-to-day life this is handled for us, behind the scenes by the engineers and electrical workers designing, installing and testing the systems around us. The power system, from a users perspective is safe by design.
Depending on your workplace, you may have an electrical safety program. The purpose of the electrical safety program is to educate the workers so they understand the hazards and risks they represent, and how to do field risk assessments. The electrical safety program will outline the various steps that have been taken to limit the risks to acceptable levels, and what the worker can do to ensure they work safe.
Depending on where you are located, the requirement for an electrical safety program may be more or less explict. For example, it is pretty clear that every jurisdiction in the USA requires an electrical safety program to meet with requirements of OSHA 1910 Sub-part S, in Canada it's a bit murkier. For example, Newfoundland and Labrador uses the term "electrical safety program" in their regulations; where as Nova Scotia implies that a "hazardous voltage" level only exists over 750V.
An electrical safety program will include training on the various labels that are throughout the facility, what the various hazards are, how to care for PPE, when PPE is required, what an energized work permit is, and why its important, and much more. We have created a report outlining the steps needed to create an electrical safety program.
You will hear people use incident energy study and arc flash in the same breath, however they are two different things. The incident energy is only one of the potential causes of injury as a result of and arc flash event, the others include blindness, hearing loss, blunt force trauma, etc.
The incident energy study only represents the potential heat energy associated with an arc flash event. An arc flash analysis however should holistically review a potential arc flash event and provide mitigation techniques that will limit all the results of the arc flash.
The calculation of the incident energy is the most mature, however we have seen PPE recommendations evolve over the years as the sound and light hazards have become better understood.
One of the outputs of an arc flash analysis is the label. During orientation, or general electrical safety training, workers will be trained on reading the label and determine how to choose PPE for the task at hand. We develop arc flash analysis reports for our clients and if you would like to learn more you can learn more here - JMK Engineering Power System Analysis.
If you would like to learn how to develop an arc flash analysis for yourself, or someone else at your company, well we are putting together a course just to do this.
You've made it this far, at JMK Engineering we analyze your power system, documentation, processes, etc and help you make decisions around capital spend regarding electrical safety. Rarely does a company have to start from scratch, it is more likely that all the information is available and it just has to be put in one spot, that all employees have access to.
We will identify areas that you will need to improve to meet industry standards, provide an arc flash analysis (or update your existing) and work with other experts to ensure that you have a complete electrical safety program and a plan for continuous improvement. It is MUCH less important to have a complete electrical safety program at the onset, it is more important to have a process to continuously improve the systems and processes you have today.
No matter how small or bare-bones a system you start with, when you are continuously improve it on a monthly or quarterly or yearly basis, over time it will become one of the best in the business and perfectly fit your evolving business.
Still want to learn more about Electrical Safety, check out our article archive.