Arc Flash Hazard Info

If you heard the talk and wonder about electrical Arc Flash and Shock hazards, OSHA requirements, National Fire Protection Assoc. NFPA 70E Standard, proper Hazard Warning Label requirements, employers providing proper personnel protective equipment (PPE) for employees, and safety information for them and outside contractors who service your facility, we can answer your questions, inform you of what's needed, how to go about doing something, and provide all those services to complete the job.

(Using Warning label shown only meets the NFPA Electrical Code, not NFPA 70E)
Here are some questions and answers:

Q1.   Why does the Company Owner or Management who represents the Company need to do this?
A1.      JOB SAFETY... an Owner/Employer needs to furnish their employees a place free from recognized hazards.  Even to visiting Service Contractor workers.   As an Owner/Employer, it's your job to recognize and Warn them of Building and Equipment and Production Hazards and provide them protection of some sort.   See Q2. 


is that picture displayed above.   Someone while working on live electrical equipment, "working a panel hot" had an accident.   (example: using a screw driver they accidentally touched the live panel bus or main lug to ground or phase to phase).    It created that fire blast that burns the worker and possibly sets their clothes on fire.    He or she was not wearing, given, or told of the proper clothing protection.    Cotton clothing is still ok isn't it?    

SHOCK HAZARD is getting zapped or electrocuted by touching a live electrical source of some kind.   Any voltage 50 volts or more.   Are employees using bare hands, reaching into things to do electrical work.   Cloth or leather gloves are ok aren't they?

Q2.   Who is making me do this?....When did this happen?
A2.     The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA.   In 1970 the United States Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act because statistics showed many workers were becoming disabled or died from job related accidents.   The Act covers all employers and employees.  It covers safety issues for everything from scaffolding to diseases, construction, and ELECTRICAL SAFETY.    

What if I don't allow anyone to get into this stuff.    Haven't had a problem yet.    What if I just keep putting it off.    
If an accident happens and it makes attention, sends someone to the Hospital, OSHA can get involved, investigate the event, issue a citation, and levy fines to the owner/employer.     Check the OSHA web site for more info.   

Remember, OSHA has these enforceable laws that owners/employers need to follow to safely protect their employees and  service contractor workers from your recognized hazards in your Plant or Building.   

Q3.    So what are the requirements and where are all those rules I need to follow for electrical safety?
A3:       Now that gets allittle if you want to say "kinda wishey-washy".    Briefly stated here, OSHA made up some general rules, for example..."Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees".  

Another one is...."Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall be provided with, and shall use, electrical protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed."     You can find more on OSHA's web site under OSHA 29 CFR 1910 AND 1926.

You'll discover reading OSHA requirements and descriptions as a general guidance, and does not give specific detail or what is appropriate to do ELECTRICAL SAFETY.    That's where another book standard comes into play, see Q4.

Q4.    Where can I find this described ELECTRICAL SAFETY info?
A4.       Again in brief....OSHA could not get detailed so they asked the NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION or NFPA, to come up with standards to follow.    NFPA in 1976 put together a consensus standard called  "Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces, NFPA 70E" published in 1979.   It's a work practice standard.  The 2000 edition brought attention to the hazards of Arc Flash.  
Then in 2004 the seventh edition was renamed "Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace."    The 2005 edition added the requirements for Arc Flash hazard equipment labels.   NFPA sells the book standard on their website.   Covers many topics.   There is also a NFPA 70E Handbook that explains with helpful commentary's.    At this writing the latest standard is 2018.  
They are not law but when an accident happens, OSHA can point to those Concensus Standards.   The standard is a nationally recognized standard, developed by industry consensus, used as part of electrical safety practices.    It is getting a lot more attention these past years.

You can follow electrical work tables and procedures in the NFPA 70E book, figure out personal protection clothing (PPE), only if it pertains as described to what your doing and the noted limits are not exceeded.   But if it does not, or you do not know, then a more detailed analysis needs to be performed....a site survey and study needs to be performed to figure out those Electrical Safety values.   You can do it if you know how, or you need to hire someone who can do it for you.   

Electrical Equipment manufacturers who build new switchboards, panelboards, Motor Control Centers, Production Control Panels, etc. do not normally perform this type of work, nor can they just install that detailed warning label as described in
NFPA 70E.  

You can add a Arc Flash & Shock Hazard Warning label as shown above, and some Manufacturers have installed them on their equipment.    It will meet the National Electrical Code requirements in your area, although it's not enough safety info to satisfy OSHA.     It is not all about Warning labels, but having a Work Safety Program enforce and written that employees follow too.

Q5.   Why do I need this Electrical Shock and Arc Flash work?
A5.      Because people work on energized electrical stuff instead of turning it off.   Doing it for years.    And if you turn it off you need to check if it's really off.   A voltage testing check.   That person requires some sort of body protection in-case say a slip of a meter test probe, a screwdriver, or you touch the wrong thing, or when opening an electrical cover, operating a switch, inspecting an energized cable or connection, something wrong was going to accidentally expose that person or people around them to a electrical hazard.   This is why OSHA is calling for "JOB SAFETY", so that person can go Home after work.  

That person needs to know what hazards they are getting themselves into and to others around them.  Do they follow a Company Safety Program.     Were they trained to do the work.    Book Training yes, but have they actually demonstrated the skills.    Do they really know what can happen if they have an accident.   They really need to know.   How do you know what to do?  

Are your employees or visiting service contractors still wearing normal cotton clothing that will burn or clothing that will melt while performing electrical work??    
As of 2018 NFPA 70E Standard minimal clothing shall be Electrical Arc Flash rated Category 1.    What's that?

That is what the Electrical Shock and Arc Flash Analysis will reveal.   It is to identify the hazards and their severity, a study of your electrical distribution system to determine will it be just a small spark or a threatening explosion of fire and flying debris if something goes wrong.   

Probably never gave it a thought that electrical gear could cause such a problem.

If you still have doubts as to why you need ARC FLASH WARNINGS please visit or type in to this youtube informative web site presentation/discussion.   Worth viewing.

Q6.    So what needs to be done in my Building/Plant to get me the safety labels I'll need and to satisfy OSHA?
A6.      To start, (and this is a brief break-down) a site survey to observe what type of electrical equipment you have, how much, how new and old, and how accessible it is.   Then questions need to be asked.   Do you have up to date electrical diagrams of what is electrically fed from what and from where.   (Do you know what is actually fed from what to where??)  If you have up to date electrical diagrams, great.    If not, here is were most of site work begins to gather all the electrical info.   A floor plan of your facility is also needed.   This is detailed work and where we requiring the necessary info, will work together with qualified electrical individuals who will open covers and together gather detailed electrical info of panels, conductors, fuses, breaker info, etc. 
There's more...Then there is the analysis of the equipment.    Develop a electrical diagram of what feeds what from the detailed info.   Assist you in developing your electrical safety program for your in-house personnel and visiting contractors.     Inform your building/plant personnel and you of the electrical hazard findings.  Then install the safety labels. 

So the NFPA Electrical Code 70, a National Electrical Code that your City and town Building Department uses in electrical installation safety and site inspections, requires you to have those Warning Labels you see above so far.   So you can buy and install them yourself.   But NFPA 70E, a work practice standard, describes what has to be done when someone is to perform electrical work, opening covers, trouble shooting, testing, installing.    Give us a phone call today to answer your questions.

Call 815-444-1340 or e-mail

NOT YET COMPLETED, Under construction

THERMO-OPTICS LTD. serving Chicago and the Greater Chicagoland Area Since 1991
Office Located Northwest of Chicago, Illinois Phone: 815-444-1340                           e-mail: