The second to last line of defence with arc flash mitigation, according to the Hierarchy of Hazard Mitigation, is administrative controls. Administrative controls are implemented after a facility is designed and built, and equipment has been purchased and installed. What the administrative controls really boil down to is your electrical safety program. I’ll break down what that is below.
Electrical Safety Program
An electrical safety program is a list of rules and procedures that must be followed by employees working with electrical equipment at your facility. You may already have a safety program in place, but it is important that you have a safety program that is specific to working on energized equipment. I’ve already written a series of articles to help you get started in putting together your own electrical safety program. I’ll highlight a few key parts here with arc flash mitigation in mind.
There are a few major standards that need to be followed when working with energized equipment. The odds are high that you will need to adhere to one of CSA Z462 (if you’re in Canada), NFPA 70E (if you’re in the United States), or EN 50110 (if you’re just about anywhere in Europe). Broader organizations that produce standards include OSHA, IEC, IEEE, and ANSI. This is in addition to any standards specific to your location, including provincial and state regulations. These standards will have specific guidelines for performing work on electrical equipment (both energized and de-energized), covering everything from work practices to label and PPE selection. All workers should be familiar with the standards. At the very least, the standards should be readily available to read and should be reviewed prior to any job on electrical equipment.
Job Planning/Maintenance Scheduling
Speaking of jobs, another administrative method for arc flash mitigation is job planning meetings. These should take place before a job dealing with energized equipment begins. In general, you want to make sure to plan your jobs and schedule maintenance around the critical operations of the facility. Proper planning can include work procedures such as Lock-Out-Tag-Out. You always want to try to schedule your work so that it can be done when equipment is de-energized. An arc flash cannot occur if there is no electricity. Proper scheduling also has the double whammy effect of ensuring that maintenance on one system does not impact the operation of another system. This leads to higher operational uptime for your facility.
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A major cause of electrical accidents, arc flash being no exception, is untrained workers wearing insufficient PPE. Well trained, well informed workers will be able to properly identify arc flash hazards and assess the risks, thereby reducing the likelihood of an arc flash incident occuring. Job specific training is mandatory before performing any new job. If the job is performed infrequently, establish a set period of time that can pass before it becomes necessary for an employee to repeat the training for that particular job. If it has been at least a year since an employee has performed a task, that employee must be trained again. Something to stress here is diligence: complacency with work can be just much of a hazard as anything else. Everyone should always be up to date on their training for any job.
Another thing that workers should be aware of is clear communication in the workplace. You can find our article on clear communication here.
Standards, scheduling, and training are just some administrative controls you can implement for arc flash mitigation. As always, thanks for reading!
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