process automation

Arc Flash Studies

What is an Arc Flash Hazard?
What is an Arc Flash Analysis?
Why should you be concerned about arc flash?
What is NFPA 70E?
How can Excel Engineering help?
Why choose Excel Engineering?
Resources Page

What is an Arc Flash Hazard?

An electric arc flash is the result of the intense heat created when an electrical short circuit occurs. The arc flash itself can vaporize copper or aluminum conductors almost instantly. The electric short circuit which causes the arc flash can be caused by equipment failure and/or accidental contact with an electrical component by an employee with a conductive item such as a tool or piece of wire. Even though the flash may only last a fraction of a second, it can result in devastating personal injury and significant property damage. An arc flash study will provide you with the knowledge and understanding of these hazards. This knowledge along with labeling, training, personal protective equipment (PPE) and appropriate work procedures will mitigate the risk of personal injury and property damage.

What is an Arc Flash Analysis?

An arc flash study (arc flash analysis or a hazard analysis) is a study of the electrical power system in your facility. This study is performed by gathering detailed information about the design and layout of the electrical distribution in the facility, including information from the electrical utility about the supply of power. An analysis of the system is then performed which identifies electrical equipment that requires the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) to work safely. In addition, equipment is evaluated to ensure it is adequately rated for a potential fault and visually inspected for safety concerns including code violations and maintenance concerns. The study will produce a report containing information required to keep workers safe and to improve the safety and reliability of your electrical system.

Excel Engineering has a department that focuses on arc flash analysis (or arc flash study). Our department has completed hundreds of arc flash studies around the country – from small industrial plants to very large corporate campuses. We welcome the opportunity to understand your unique situation and assist you with all your arc flash needs.

Why should you be concerned about arc flash?

In order to provide an electrically safe working environment for your workers, you need to assess the shock as well as arc flash hazards in your facility.

NOTE: Even though arc flash burns accounted for 38% of the total electrical related injuries, they caused a disproportionately high number of days lost from work because of the “burn type” nature of arc flash injuries.
A combination of NFPA and OSHA standards require that arc flash hazards be labeled and that personnel are properly warned and trained on how to identify and protect themselves from these hazards. Even highly skilled electricians will not be aware of the level of the hazard that may be present, or the proper PPE required for equipment, if the label and information are not available. Other reasons to be concerned with arc flash include:

  • Protecting your employees from serious harm that can result from Arc Flash events
  • Minimizing expensive down time and equipment damage
  • Avoid unnecessary fines from OSHA
  • Minimizing the chances of a personal injury lawsuit that may follow “lost time injury accidents” that are associated with OSHA violations

What is NFPA 70E?

NFPA 70E is a standard for electrical safety in the work place, which can be thought of as the “how to” standard. It provides guidance as to the specific steps that must be taken by a facility owner and worker (whether employee or contractor) in order to comply with the more general statements and safety regulations made by OSHA.
A subtle but important difference between the National Electrical Code (NEC / NFPA70) and Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace (NFPA 70E) is that the NEC applies to installations, whereas NFPA 70E applies to workplaces.
NFPA 70E states that facility owners must provide:

  • Arc flash hazard analysis
  • Arc flash labels on equipment with incident energy or PPE level
  • Required PPE for the workers
  • Tools for safe work
  • A safety program with defined responsibilities
  • Training for the workers

How can Excel Engineering help?

Analysis
Arc Flash: Our team of engineers can perform a comprehensive arc flash analysis and provide a facility owner with the necessary information for workers to safely work on electrical equipment and to be compliant with OSHA and NFPA standards. Based on the results of the arc flash study, we provide custom arc flash labels for your equipment, updated electrical drawings, a full report including analysis and recommendations to reduce and/or properly address arc flash hazards which are present.

Short Circuit: An electrical equipment rating study/evaluation to determine if existing electrical equipment is properly rated for the available electrical system fault duty. Underrated equipment may appear to operate correctly, but may not perform as designed during a short circuit or ground fault which could result in far greater harm to workers, extensive equipment damage, and unnecessary down time.

Coordination: An electrical system fuse, circuit breaker and relay selective coordination study/review. This evaluation determines the correct settings of the equipment to ensure problems on the electrical system, should they occur, are isolated and not allowed to cascade throughout the system causing more systems to be shut down than was necessary.

Training
We can provide and/or assist you with the necessary training to meet OSHA and NFPA70E requirements. Training is an essential component to an overall safety program and compliance process. Many states as well as NFPA70E require development of an “Electrical Safety Program”. Excel can assist you with development and implementation of electrical safe work practices and required electrical safety training can be tailored to suit your facility and staff needs. Trained workers understand the correct selection of proper PPE and tools, and safe work practices required for OSHA/NFPA 70E compliance. See our Electrical Safety Training page for more details.

Safety Policy Development/Review
In addition to training, we can assist with the development of a site electrical safety policy or review of an existing policy. This development or review process will ensure that your facilities electrical safety policy is meeting the requirements of NFPA 70E.

Why choose Excel Engineering?

Excel Engineering’s “Power Systems Group” has been performing electrical power system studies for over 20 years and is one of the premier electrical safety consultants in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. We have a staff dedicated to Arc Flash and system studies and have performed over 1000 studies Comprised of Licensed Professional Engineers and seasoned Master Electricians, we can boast over 75 years of collective industry knowledge and experience.

We have performed studies all across the world and our clients include 3M, Medtronic, and several other Fortune 500 companies. We are also the preferred arc flash hazard assessment vendor for 3M World Headquarters located here in St. Paul, MN. Our experience gives us the wisdom to understand new, old, and complex electrical systems and perform all aspects of critical system evaluations including harmonic analysis. Our attention to detail and thorough process will provide you with accurate and concise professional reporting.

We are located in St. Paul, Minnesota; however, we regularly travel to sites across the US performing onsite arc flash hazard assessments. Our onsite assessments provide your facility with the most efficient and accurate results and provide you with the recommendations you are looking for to bring your facility up to compliance with the National Electric Code.

For more arc flash information and resources, visit our resources page.